He was very modest and said that it was the boys who worked hard and they deserve the success. This opened the conversation. He was very co-operative and answered my queries in detail. He was brilliant in speech and displayed amazing depth in his knowledge of the glorious game.
Your memories of your 7 for 27 against the mighty Aussies from 12.3 eight ball overs?
I guess I was lucky. Taking seven for 50 is good bowling. Taking seven for 27 is plain lucky and good bowling.
Your transition from a player to coach, how and when did it happen?
It is largely because by profession I am a teacher. In 1960 I was offered a job as a teacher in Kerry Baptist Grammar School in Australia. Part of the condition laid down by the school was that I would take up the coaching of the school side. This is a position I occupied from 1960 to 1975 during which period I was also associated with schools cricket coaching in Victoria under V C A. By the end of 1974 I was a part of the working committee established by Australian Cricket Board (A C B) which was drawing up the national coaching plan which has eventuated in what is called the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme in Australia and the National Cricket Academy in Adelaide.
So, in 1975 I became the inaugural director of coaching for Victoria. I left Kerry and joined the V C A as a professional coach, a position I occupied for 15 years
Between coaching and playing what is it you enjoy more?
That"s a very difficult question. The pleasure you get from playing - nothing can take its place. This is why I say the people at the present moment are continually castigating Steve Waugh and saying you must retire, I say to Steve Waugh don"t retire and play as long as you possibly can because there will come a time in your life when physically you will not be able to play and then you will say why didn"t I play more when I could.
The actual thrill of playing is irreplaceable I am not talking about just playing Test cricket I am talking about any level of cricket. On the other hand you must look at the sort of vicarious enjoyment you get from coaching. I get a great deal of satisfaction knowing that what I have learnt in cricket is going to be passed on to the future generation.
At the Kerry Grammar Baptist School, the insignia was a torch, which they handed on in a ceremony each year from the senior class to the next. This way we must pass on these traditions and ideals to the generation coming up. This way you always leave something behind you. Whether it is a good player, a good book or an idea you have implanted in somebody"s mind it becomes virtually immortal because you are passing it on & sharing. That gives me tremendous satisfaction.
To your question I would say that selfishly I got more enjoyment out of playing but unselfishly I get more enjoyment out of coaching.
How do you compare bowlers of your era with the present? What about speed measures?
The methods of measurement are different. Harold Larwood in the 1920s had the speed measured by high speed photography and his speed was recorded as between 70mph and 130 mph. Statham and I were measured in the 60s and recorded between 89 mph and 91 mph but we were measured in Wellington on a wet saturated wicket, Statham in three sweaters and I had two, we didn"t even change into whites, just put our cricket boots on and bowled in a howling gale.
What would it have been in ideal conditions I don"t know? Though Bradman said I was the fastest I am not saying so and it does not much matter to me but comparing the bowlers then and now I would say without hesitation that bowlers of my days were far more skillful. I wouldn"t say they were more successful because I think statistics have become meaningless with the introduction of various competitions and various sides.
Most of the wickets the bowlers of my age took were against, Australia, South Africa and the West Indies which were fairly tough oppositions in those days with the Three Ws, Godard, Mcglew and the strong Australian sides. You have to look at Trueman and understand the skills that went into his bowling - having to swing the ball and to control it.
Ray Lindwall was the greatest bowler I ever saw in my life. The ability he had to pitch the ball wherever he wanted it and be able to control it required immense skill which I cant see in the bowlers of today. I am not being negative but I just don"t see many bowlers who swing a cricket ball. I don"t see many bowlers who can put the ball automatically where they want to. Not in the same way as Jim Laker & Tony Lock did or Derek Underwood in more recent times. That seems to have gone now.
I think we are tending to look more and more at outcomes in cricket than we are at the processes. In other words, we are looking at winning One-day games by one run or we are looking at people scoring 50 or 60 by sort of rather agricultural, brutal slogging methods.
In my days you looked at Hutton playing a classic cover drive or Compton playing an exquisite late cut or hook. I think a lot of aesthetic qualities and skills have gone out of the game.