Almanac Cricket: Have you met your Heroes?

Can you ever have a hero who you have never met?


Or do you have to buy into every story of their life?


I’m sitting here on a Friday morning in Aberdeen. That’s the Scottish city, not the 32 other places in the world with the same name.


But I’m wondering about the myriad Australians I’ve met over the last 20 years and I just wondered if you cared. Anyway, these are my five favourite Aussies from those I’ve met.

Lots of big names.


1)DAVID CAMPESE: He has the reputation of being a diva. Nothing could be further from the truth. Campo is a strange mix of swagger and hands-up, and yet this is the man who starred for his country more than 100 times when rugby was still – ostensibly, ha ha – an amateur game.


2)TREVOR BAYLISS: He’s the England cricket coach and he’s a smashing bloke. He used to be the professional at a club called West of Scotland CC in Glasgow and he scored a pile of runs. I asked him in 1990-something about his ambition and he said simply: “Who knows?” Now, we DO know.


3)GEORGE BAILEY: I interviewed this charming lad at The Grange in Edinburgh. He didn’t seem to realise that his name was the same as the hero of the James Stewart film classic: “It’s a Wonderful Life”. It didn’t matter. He was a terrific player for the Scottish Saltires against England’s counties and he scored a pile of runs. And he said: “I didn’t realise so many people in Scotland cared about cricket.”


4)PAUL HOFFMANN: I would have the Rockhampton Rocket at No 1, but he’s such a fantastic guy it would be too obvious. This is the lad who arrived in Scotland in 1997 with no ambitions and ended up taking more wickets than anybody. Oh, and he starred for Scotland and featured in a World Cup in 2007. An amazing guy!


5)ALLAN BORDER: He shouldn’t be on this list. Or he wouldn’t be but for the great Scottish climate. The Ashes-winning captain arrived in Scotland at the same time as an anti cyclone and it rained for three days. I tried to get an interview, but all he would say was: “It’s a learning process”. Luckily for me, he told my wife who was working in the bar at the time: “You guys will never get cricket. It rains too much.”


Or maybe he was right!!



  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Some fantastic names there Neil.
    Campese was the man who first drew me in to watching Rugby Union, living in a non Rugby state. What a superstar.
    George Bailey seems like he could be the nicest guy in cricket. Bit unlucky to have not played more than 5 Tests, fantastic ODI , T20 and Sheffield Shield career so far.

  2. Neil Drysdale says

    Campese is a great guy, Luke. And he shakes things up, not because it’s cool, but because he genuinely thinks our Six Nations rugby is boring.
    George Bailey was and is a class act. So was and is Ed Cowan, who also played for Scotland.

  3. Good onya Neil, though I;m a tad worried about David Campese. Didn’t he make some racially tinged remarks about Fawad Ahmed when the bowler said he was uncomfortable about wearing clothes with a beer companies logo on them?

    Another great sporting figure linked to Scotland was Archie Jackson, the contemporary of Don Bradman. I wrote an Almanac posting on him a few years back.


  4. I introduced the elder child, then 4, to AB at Hobart airport a few years back. It was funny, we had been watching The Fire in the Caribbean just that morning at the mate’s place we were staying at. He was VERY approachable and down to earth.

    I shook Bob Dylan’s hand through the fence in 86. Patted Terry Fahey on the back many a time. Let John Emburey eat most of my box of Marella Jubes on the fence at the SCG in 79. We had dinner with Nudge from Hey Dad one night. And with Steady Eddy, another.

    We playfully razzed Keating in the city in 89, when we didn’t know how lucky we were. He cracked that beautiful smile and did the eye twinkly thing. I harassed Hawke from a koala suit in 91. He took it well.

    Rodger Davis! Sat behind him at a pub in Kirribilli one arvo while he told great stories to a bunch of his mates. I reminded him of that great shot at 18 that won him the Bicentennial, and shared sadness at his near miss in the Open in 87.

    Kenny from the Cruel Sea spreads the good will at Petty Cash most weekends.

    I faced Henry in the nets most weeks. Luckily when his back was stuffed.

    About 5 years ago I bumped into Vossy with Craig Lambert down the Opera House. Was talking to the eldest about how good this guy was – Vossy got all mock-humble. Then I explained I was talking about the Tiges’s B/F 93 winner. Giggles all round. Top blokes.

    Best moment. Bumping into Sheedy near Kelly’s office in 93, he coming out from talking sport, us going in to be administered the party line on forests etc. 50-50 ball and we both brushed it off, I gave him a sly “Come back to the Tigers, Sheeds” and he winked, and went off to win another flag.

    (and I almost killed David Stratton at the Film Festival last weekend but saved the national treasure just as he started to topple on the stairs. Didn’t manage to get into him again about 100-year Bob Mitchum theme for next year. Oh well, can’t have it all.)

    back to the theme, when In Edinburgh a while ago I had a quick chat with Ace from Dr Who. It wasn’t as good as meeting Martin Donovan, but.

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