Crio’s Question: Darkest before dawn

“They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn
And in the hour of greatest slaughter the great avenger is being born”
(Paul Kelly, “Bradman”)
I’m certainly not casting Moises Henriques as the savior of Australian cricket but it is true that sometimes it takes a tough situation to unveil the sort of character needed to succeed.
“Flat track bullies” can flourish in any conditions but it is often instructive to look to so-called weak sides to find the next wave of stars. Maybe it is because, freed of the expectation of continued success, selectors can follow a hunch.
I reckon it’s a trend common to many sports.
Who has emerged from the mire? And who is the next one to watch?


  1. Crio – obviously Allan Border is the classic example. But maybe the other classic example is Lionel Rose. A black fighter who emerged in the toughest sport, in a racially charged environemnt. What a champion.

    Anthony Mundine should study Rose’s career.

  2. S K Warne was pretty much plucked frm obscurity and went alright (after a rocky start).

  3. I just thought of an inspiring example.
    South Adelaide have been a poor SANFL side. That is generous. Their history has few highlights.
    In the early 60s they recognised that their recruitment zone was small and weak and that they could never compete equally with the likes of Port Adelaide.
    In an initiative a generation before the “Irish Experiment”, they looked further afield and approached St Mary’s in Darwin asking for a tall player.
    They got David Kantilla….and one of Australia’s most fascinating sports stories.
    In a weak side, Kantilla became a star, winning 2 B+Fs.
    When Neil Kerley and some other recruits joined the Panthers in 1964 after another wooden spoon, they embarked on an historic season resulting in a Premiership win over despised Port. (read Michael Sexton’s magnificent book “1984” reviewed elsewhere on this site)
    Kantilla was a hero -= although very much still under strict controls of the Church which had to approve his visit.
    Kantilla’s story is amazing – his mute wife couldn’t handle Adelaide and Kantilla eventually returned North; dying too young in a car accident.
    South’s “desperation” uncovered a champ and opened up opportunities for generations to come – there’s even a link to Sheedy’s later enthusiasm for recruiting St Mary’s boys (via Whale Roberts, would you believe?!!).

  4. An obscure character who came to mind for me was David Steele, the 33YO bespectacled, prematurely grey county cricketer picked to bat for England against Lillee and Thompson in 1975. He would automatically prop on the front foot and take whatever was hurled at him, with little style but plenty of guts.
    Steele scored 50, 45, 73, 92, 39 and 66 in successive Ashes innings.
    At his debut at Lords he walked down one stair flight too many and got lost in the basement toilets. He narrowly escaped being “timed out”, but still went on to get 50.
    Hardly the Messiah, but certainly a “David” who used his slingshot to stand up to the Goliaths of fearsome quick bowling.

  5. Remember him well Peter. How frustrating. Played that little tug off the front foot.
    That, though, was his series of fame – did he kick on?

  6. Got a hundred in 1976 against an even more fearsome West Indies pace attack. Then dropped for the winter tour to India because “he couldn’t play spin”.
    Go figure.
    Only played 8 tests averaging 42 against a couple of the best attacks of all time.
    I always love the battler who comes up trumps when he has his/her time in the limelight.
    Which brings me to another question Crio. How come racing is providing all the feel good stories??
    Lauren and Miracles; All too Hard at evens; Saturday form seems honest; and the stewards are launching into all the interstate shonks bringing their ‘magic potions’ to Melbourne.
    All good stuff, but in my case “500 hundred times bitten, twice shy”. Still as a casual observer these days, it seems Melbourne racing has been all good news lately. Who knew?????

Leave a Comment