My Ashes Debut
It seems a long, long time ago now but with the dawn of a new Ashes series starting next week it got me thinking back to my first Ashes Test match.
My earliest memories of watching cricket on TV were when I was at school in 1976 as a spotty 10 year old.
My head of year a Mr Owen (a shame he was Welsh) was a very keen sportsman and once had the chance to play against the mighty Somerset in a benefit game. The crowd had flocked in, mainly to see Viv Richards; Mr Owen was bowling when Viv came in and as Viv faced up to his first ball, he straight drove the ball (slightly uppishly), only to see Mr Owen take a caught and bowled to dismiss the legend first ball.
Oh how happy the crowd were to see some Welsh bloke send the best batsman in the world back to the pavilion first ball!
Anyway, Mr Owen would always have the TV on at lunch and break time so people could catch up on the cricket.
I was mainly a football and rugby player in those days but I vaguely remember seeing a load of black men giving a load of white men the run around on parched outfields.
It was the following summer where I had really got into cricket. I can't remember watching anything of the first 2 Test matches of that summer but I remember sitting down at the start of the summer holidays with my new scoring book to watch the whole of the 3rd Test match from Trent Bridge on the TV and hopefully score every ball.
The memory is a bit hazy but I seem to remember Geoff Boycott was brought back into the team after his self imposed exile and Ian Botham was brought in for his Test debut.
Also the local lad Derek Randall was playing his first Test match on home soil ,Trent Bridge, this after his magical 174 in the centenary Test played earlier in the year at the MCG.
Looking back at the Test match now it says that the Aussies were severely depleted due to the fact that Kerry Packer's World Series had signed up many of the players and the ACB refused to pick them.
England had also stripped Tony Greig of the captaincy due to his WSC connection.
As for the game itself, I remember Boycott doing the cardinal sin of running out the returning prodigal son Randall by a country mile, much to the displeasure of the locals - I'm sure Randall wasn't Boycott's first or last run out dismissal!
I remember England were struggling until Alan Knott joined Boycott and put on a good partnership. Boycott ended with 107 off of 2000 balls and Knott scored a more rapid 135.
The only thing I can remember about the Aussie innings was Ian Botham's first Test wicket. As a taste of things to come re: wicket-taking, after bowling some good stuff he went on to bowl a very wide, medium-paced delivery to Greg Chappell who could of whacked it anywhere but instead dragged it onto his stumps.
It was the start of a great wicket-taking Test career for ITB.
England won the Test and I remember Randall and Boycott seeing England home and walking off Trent Bridge together (the run out forgiven)
The rest is a blur but I do remember being glued to the TV I must have known then just how special these England v Australia games were.
I remember even less of the next Test match which was played at Headindgley.
But, the one thing that I will always take away from this match was seeing Boycott clipping Greg Chappell away between mid-wicket and mid-on to the boundary to bring up his 100th hundred. The first person to achieve this feat during a Test match.
Cue the pitch invasion! People from the north didn't have much to celebrate in those days! After a long delay, during which time someone pinched Boycott's England cap (it must have been a scouser in the crowd) play resumed but not before Boycott had called for his Yorkshire cap to replace his nicked one. Boycott went on to score 191.
England went on to win this match and also the series 3-0 to regain the Ashes last won in 1972.
Player memories from the series were seeing Len Pascoe tearing in to bowl; Jeff Thompson with his funny action; Bob Willis starting his run up from wide long off (before he straightened his run up); Max Walker with his funny action and Kerry O'Keefe with his funny action - Lots of funny actions in those days! Weird what things stick in a youngster's memory.
Looking back at the tour on Wikipedia it shows that as well as 5 Tests the Aussies played 3 one day internationals and also 19 other matches! Those were great tours, where people had the chance to see the great touring teams all over the country as they played every county.
The first match of the tour was at Arundel against the Duchess of Norfolk's Xl at the end of April and the last game finished at the end of August. Proper tours.
I do think it's a great shame that today's tours are so short with just 1 or 2 county games but I do understand why.
The highlight of my working life at Wormsley was when the Aussies played against my bosses Xl in July 1997.
A near full strength Aussie team played against Sir Paul Getty's side which included the likes of Martin Crowe, youngsters Ben Hollioake and Alex Tudor, Graeme Hick, Dougie Brown, Karl Krikken and a few other county/Test players.
The boss laid on the best day possible for 400 invited guests all of who got wined and dined. We had marching brass bands to keep the 1500 crowd amused during the extended lunch hour and a jazz band; Free ice creams for who ever wanted them and a great game of cricket which ended in a draw with Sir Paul's Xl just running out of time for a win.
The highlight being Martin Crowe, playing his first game for 3 years since injury cut short his career, spanking a magical hundred having had to borrow kit from every team mate as he had diddly squat of his own.
He asked the boss if his plaque for getting a hundred could be placed above the home changing room door in the pavilion so everyone using that room would see his name above the door. The boss happily agreed and to this day this is the only plaque out of sequence in the pavilion!
Great memories and very happy days.
With this series about to start you just feel the excitement building. It is just a great sporting event and I have some very fond memories from the ones above to the 2 three month tours down under watching every day of every Test match
Unfortunately, I can't see us winning the series and I think we may go down 3-1. I'm hoping I'm very wrong!
Have a great summer hopefully cheering the boys onto a great summer victory.