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My love of and for cricket started at an early age.

During WW2 the interstate cricket competition, The Sheffield Shield, was suspended. It resumed in the 1946/47 series and traditionally, the match between Victoria and NSW started on Boxing Day. I was 11 at the time and went to the game every day it was played. 

I sat in the upper deck of the old Southern stand at the MCG.  That stand no longer exists. It has been demolished to make way for the present bigger facility but in its heyday the old Southern stand was famous for housing the loudest and most entertaining coaches, they being the knowledgeable spectators.

At the time we were living at my grandparents’ boarding house at 102 Kerferd Road, Albert Park. I took my cut lunch and went alone in the tram to the MCG. Not all that far but a big adventure for an 11 year old.

Not Happy Expat but I couldn't resist putting it in. Taken from the 1980 movie " Fatty Finn " which was about another young Aussie lad's love of cricket

There was a large crowd and I had to stand in line to get a ticket. I forget what the admission price was but it could not have been much because I paid for it out of my pocket money which wasn’t much either.

It was all pretty exciting waiting for the game to start. I had been an avid reader of it all in the sporting pages of The Sun and the Sporting Globe, known as The Pink Paper and was familiar with the names of the leading players. The stand outs of the Victorian side were Keith Miller, Sam Loxton and Lindsay Hassett. Lindsay Hassett was captain and Miller was the star.

“Free-spirited, generous, sometimes bloody-minded, altogether bonzer” = Keith Miller ( as described on wisden.com ) By night, “Dusty” Miller flew first Beaufighters and then Mosquito fighter-bombers in raids over Germany; on summer days, he played cricket. “Flight Sergeant Keith Miller … revealed the ability and temperament of a champion and showed every promise of developing into one of Australia’s best all-rounders,” Wisden forecast in 1944. forecast in 1944.

I was sitting in the stand at about half forward flank at the Richmond end. Every ball had me on the edge of my seat. Miller was the crowd favourite and in those days he played cricket and football for Victoria. In later years he transferred to NSW when he won the rights to conduct the state lottery of NSW. He had a big reputation from his wartime days in the RAAF. Big things were expected of him and he did not disappoint.

 

I clearly remember one over that set the crowd on fire. Miller was facing the NSW medium pacer named Ginty Lush. He was actually classed as a fast bowler but even to my juvenile eye he did not seem to be all that fast. Miller had long hair which he used to toss back with a flick of the head to get it out of his eyes. He faced up, took a glace in the direction of where I was sitting, flicked the hair off his face as Lush started his run. Lush bowled and the WHACK. Miller hit him for a six that landed just below where I was sitting. The crowd roared.

 

 

Next ball Miller faced up again, glanced over to the same spot, Lush started his run, Miller flicked the head, Lush bowled the, again WHACK. Another six in almost the exact same spot. The crowd was delirious.

Next ball was no run but the ball after that went through the same motions. The result was a four into the same place on the field. The next ball Miller faced up again with the same routine. A glance to where the two previous sixes had landed, the flick of the head then WHACK again, another six in the exact same spot.

I forget what the result of the rest of the over was but in four hits Miller ran up 22 runs. In those days an over was 8 balls. I don’t recall Lush bowling again and it may well have ended his career because he did not represent NSW again after the 1946/47 series.

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Miller made 153 in that game and was run out. Victoria won the match easily by an innings and 114 runs and also won the Sheffield Shield that season. The Victorian team had the nucleus of the team that made up Bradman’s 1948 Invincibles. Hassett, Miller, Loxton, Ian Johnson, Doug Ring and Bill Johnston. Opposing them was a NSW line-up that included other members of Bradman’s Invincibles; Ray Lindwall, Arthur Morris, Syd Barnes, Ernie Toshack. I find it hard to recall any other interstate game where there was such an eminent collection of true champions all competing in the same match, on the same ground against each other. The only missing giant was Bradman himself because he played for South Australia, but that is another story.

 

RAY LINDWALL TALKING ABOUT HIS LIFE AND CRICKET Raymond Russell Lindwall MBE (3 October 1921 – 23 June 1996) was a cricketer who represented Australia in 61 Tests from 1946 to 1960. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time. He also played top-flight rugby league football with St. George, appearing in two grand finals for the club before retiring to fully concentrate on Test cricket.

When I go to the MCG now and look across to that half forward flank position my mind goes back to that game in 1946 as if it were yesterday. Of course all of those famous names have passed on to all those wickets in the sky but how fortunate was I to have seen all of those famous names at the height of their careers and all in action at the same time. A month later I saw them all again together, led by Bradman himself giving the Poms a right old flogging.

 

 

 

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