Former Australian rules footballer and Test cricketer Max Walker displays his trademark bowling action in the Long Room at the Melbourne Cricket Club in Melbourne.
Former Australian rules footballer and Test cricketer Max Walker displays his trademark bowling action in the Long Room at the Melbourne Cricket Club in Melbourne. JULIAN SMITH

'A larrikin who loved life and loved the game'

AS a cricket-tragic youngster growing up in England in the 1970s, Max Walker was part of my life.

Along with Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Ian Chappell, Walker was one of the players we would try to mimic in the nets as we dreamed of playing on the hallowed turf at Lord's.

Walker, of course, was the hardest to copy.

I remember going to Lord's on my 15th birthday for the first Ashes Test of the 1977 series marvelling at how Walker managed to bowl the way he did.

We had all gone to watch Thomson and Greg Chappell but I recall that Craig Serjeant got a big 50 and Walker was in the wickets as England managed a draw.

Once again we returned to practice and tried to be like Walker.

Everyone could (almost) do Thomson and once in a while replicate (or so we thought) a Greg Chappell cover drive or an Ian Chappell square cut, but Walker left us all, appropriately enough, in a tangle and usually on the floor in a heap.

Walker was a hero then and continued to be so when he went into commentary and presenting.

I never saw much of the man in action in Australia but will always think of Big Maxy with a fondness because of Billy Birmingham and the Wired World of Sports.

Those 12th Man skits were part of the reason I travelled to Australia in the 1980s.

Max Walker was recently on Fox Sports' Cricket Legends talking to Robert Craddock and he still had that trademark moustache and the big smile.

To me Walker came across as a larrikin who loved life and loved the game of cricket more.

He was also a lot more than the bloke who came on to bowl after Lillee and Thomson.

Walker was the perfect foil for those two quicks and became arguably part of one of the greatest Aussie bowling attacks of all time.

And that's how Walker should be remembered.

PHIL DILLON



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