A Day With Jim



Many, many of us have listened to the voice of Jim Maxwell from all around the world describing cricket to Australian aficionados.  I sat next to him on day three at the second test in Kandy.

The day starts with Jim saying that he will be having an easy day.  Football finals in Melbourne and Sydney will coincide with today’s play. We did not realise that at the time we would have most of the day to chat

Cross overs will be few as footy (whichever code) will take priority.

He cross chats with fellow ABC man Peter Roebuck about worldly things and cricket statistics.

Jim loves the stats.

Marsh and Hussey continue to dominate the bowlers in the morning session with both players reaching their centuries in the same over.

Shaun Marsh became the 19th Australian to make a century on debut and he and Hussey set a new record for the 4th wicket again Sri Lanka of 268 runs.

Marsh continues and Jim wonders whether the young Marsh will break the longest standing record in Australian cricket.  Charles Bannerman on debut 165.n.o.

Jim salivates. He really does love the stats of the game.

Jim commenced with the ABC as a Specialist Trainee in Sport 38 years ago along with a great bunch of sports casters that included Drew Morphett, Peter Meares and Gordon Bray.

It was the third time he had applied for the job and it was on his mother’s instigation and handing him the advertisement for the job that he gave it one more chance. He had just returned from a six months jaunt playing cricket around the world. 90 matches in all.

A short stint playing club cricket with Hampstead was also included in this illyd.

He has called 242 test matches on radio and television and humbly suggested that perhaps only Richie Benaud has commentated on more tests.

His early mentor on radio was the silver tongued Alan McGilvray who advised him that the “pause” was so important in broadcasting cricket.

Advice also given to McGilvray by the great Australian statesman and cricket lover Robert Menzies.

“Cricket perpetrators are spoiling the game for the public and stuffing up the game” a point he reiterates when the umpires bring out the light meters.

When asked what was the best ground to broadcast from? Without hesitation he said “Sydney. It was where I started and it is now the only ground in Australia that still has the rooms where Grace, Trumper, Bradman and co strutted their stuff.

Like most of us who love cricket he says that Lords is unique.  “You cannot help but become emotionally involved’ he said.

“Not only that but the crowds in England also get so involved in the game and I recall the last two test series (2005 and 2009) at The Oval which were absorbing with the outcome of The Ashes hanging on them” he said.

‘Adelaide in its heyday was easily the most beautiful ground in Australia but has now succumbed to the push from football like most other grounds. The Bellerive ground in Hobart I regard as the best now.’’

His favourite ground in the world for atmosphere?  “Eden Gardens in India. You are in the crowd, they are in your face it’s magnificent”.  He regards the Kennington ground in Barbados with fondness as well

Hussey goes trying to force the pace as rain is imminent later in the day.  Great team man is M.Hussey.

I asked him about the “voice” of cricket on radio as I believe there is a certain timbre needed in your voice to be a good, no great caller as well as the knowledge.

“Alan McGilvray had the voice” said Jim also saying people like John Arlott, Tony Cozier and locals Tim Lane and Dennis Cometti were also high up.  In my opinion he (Maxwell) also has “the voice’ and we have all come to know it so well over the years.

What of the future of Test matches?

About the future of Test cricket he unreservedly said that it would remain. He believed that it was the one game that is worthy, meaningful and creditable.  “The other cricket (one day and t20) has its place as long as it is kept in perspective.  They draw people to the game but should never be placed ahead of Tests.  They (the ICC) will really have to have a close look at scheduling in the future” he said.

“It still astound me that cricket did not put up its name to be part of the 2020 Olympic Games. The cricket authorities would have known that there were no TV rights in Pakistan and India for the IOC and what an opportunity it would have been to show the world our game in some sort of format. Even it is only for two weeks every four years” he continued.

Lunch is taken and Australia will be looking to hurry up the score in the next session.  Marsh goes (141) and is followed quickly by Haddin (1) and Johnson first ball.

Which reminds me of Jim’s other great passion (excluding golf and gee-gees).

The Primary Club. Jim is chairman of the Australian arm of the club that was established in 1974 to raise funds for people who are visually impaired.

To become a member a cricketer must have been out first ball when playing at International Tests, One day or T20 matches.

The club has raised many thousands of dollars over the years to assist people with disabilities with 100% of the funds received going to those charities. There are chapters of the organisation in Sydney and Melbourne.

Jim is excited about the 3rd Marathon Cricket day to be held at the SCG later on this year. Games start at 7am and go through to 7pm.  “Where else in the world can an ordinary cricket person sit on the same seat as Bradman, Hammond, Larwood, Sobers and co”?  They will also be conducting a race day at Wyong and have a huge breakfast on the first day of the Sydney Test.

He would like to see the Club expand throughout Australia.

Further info on the Primary Club  www.primaryclub.com.

Play looks like being abandoned for the day as the rain continues to fall and even if the rain stops the dreaded light meter will have the final say.  Australia 7/411.  Bad luck for Usman Kharwaja who had just hit a beautiful six.  With the success of Marsh his position might be under threat.  If Australia bat on tomorrow to increase their lead he will be asked to attack.  Pretty hard for a young man trying to cement his place in the team.

Do the visitors have enough lead?  234 seems enough ( I seem to recall that is another significant figure in Australian cricket.  Oops I’m becoming Jim)

No doubt Jim and Robee will have a lengthy discussion before play starts tomorrow on this and many other subjects.

Work goes on for Jim Maxwell as he files yet another report back home to Australia. Obviously between breaks in the cricket.



About Bob Utber

At 80 years of age Citrus Bob is doing what he wanted to do as a 14 year-old living on the farm at Lang Lang. Talking, writing, watching sport. Now into his third book on sports history he lives in Mildura with his very considerate wife (Jenny ) and a groodle named "Chloe On Flinders". How good is that.

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