5 February, 2007, Crown Palladium, Melbourne, Australia
Distinguished guests ladies and gentlemen, thank you.
That is one of the most moving receptions I’ve ever been given, and I’m extremely grateful and privileged to be inducted into the hall of fame this evening.
In the twenty five who are already in the Australian cricket hall of fame, I played with or against eight of them , and I watched another eight from various stands around the Sydney Cricket Ground. And as I believe this particular hall of fame to be the best in the world, because it is, well it’s quite difficult to get into, but I do believe it’s the best in the world. I’m a selector and I know how many great players are not in there at the moment, and it is an outstanding thing Cricket Australia and the Melbourne Cricket Club have done to set it up and have, now, twenty-seven people in there.
I was lucky when I started off in cricket with New South Wales because there were three players in there who were mentors. Ian was kind enough to mention that I in some small way might have helped him by being a mentor. I had Arthur Morris and Keith Miller and Ray Lindwall in the New South Wales and Australian side when I first played, and they were simply wonderful.
For all young players, not just me, but for every young playerthat they came across, they showed them the way to play, and the way to behave, and taught them that cricket had a lot of spirit in it, and could be played with spirit, but it had always to be, the right spirit.
You saw a little earlier Sir Donald Bradman talking about Charlie Macartney, and it’s a particular honour for me to be inducted with Charlie Macartney tonight. Don Bradman was talking there seeing Charlie Macartney make 170 in the whitewash series of 1920-21, and the thing was he had gone to the ground with his father, and he’d said that he’d never rest until he played on that great ground, once he’d seen Macartney make that 170. Well coincidence is everything because my father, in 1921 was aged sixteen, and he was a pretty good country schoolboy cricketer, and his parents gave him for his seventeenth birthday present, he was born on Feb 28, for his seventeenth birthday present they gave him the train tickets from Coraki which is way up on the north coast, and money for the accommodation, so that he could see the test match. And whenever I asked him about the great players, he said, ‘well I know that Bradman must be the best, because everyone says he is and players who played with him say Bradman was the best.’ He said, ‘but aw, Macartney, he was the greatest player that I ever saw. ‘ And there was always a touch there that he’d feel disloyal, if he hadn’t mentioned Macartney in the same breath or even better than Don Bradman.
We had Glenn McGrath talking about being a country boy over there, and all the land he owns in the outback at the moment. Well I’m a country boy as well. In the Herald Sun this morning, there was a photograph of a little kid, that was me, with a bat almost as tall as myself, batting behind a motorcar. And that was when, my father was a schoolteacher, and we’d been to Penrith and to Koorawatha and Jugiong, my father was playing for the Jugiong school, and then he played for the representative Jugiong side if that’s not too grandiose a term, and the motor car was a 1929 Chevrolet, when you have a look at the Herald Sun later when you get home, you’ll see that it was pretty old. Now I was six years old at the time, and that was the match Jugiong against Berramagra, and I’ll bet not even Glenn McGrath has been to Berramagra.
Now one of the great things about being in cricket is the people you meet. I came to Adelaide and bowled against Ian Chappell very early in his career and he made a hundred against New South Wales. And it was a pretty good hundred I can tell you. But there was one thing about it that worried me. Les Favell was a good mate of mine. He was Chappelli’s skipper at the time. And we got off the field and it was 106 degrees, and we were absolutely knackered. And I went and said to Favell, ‘what’s with this young Chappell? He’s a pretty good player, ‘ and he said, ‘Yeah he is, he gave you a bit of a hammering, didn’t he?’ I said , ‘yeah, but he kept grinning at me. Is he all right?’ And Favell said, ‘Don’t worry about that. He was just gritting his teeth and he does it every ball, and he’ll make a lot of runs.’
Meeting people and being mixed up in cricket has been one of my great joys. I thank you all very much indeed, it is a privilege and an honour to be inducted, I’ve had a lot of assistance along the way from players in whose teams I played, and captains, and from everyone else whose had the pleasure of playing this game, this great game, and also from Daphne, a splendid lady who is much loved.