It is always a fun to write about ones childhood heroes in sport or cricket in this case. Jeff Thomson of Australia was a rage during the 1970s in World cricket being widely regarded as the fastest bowler to have ever played the game. Yours truly, actually got interested in cricket after watching 30 minute highlights of India v Australia test matches in 1977-78 when Thommo was running into bowl with that intimidating presence of his ,which endeared him to the kids. His handsome frame, thundering pace and his intimidating presence drew crowds to the stadiums whenever Australia took the field in that era. As it is, Australia had a strong team which played attractive cricket during the 70s under the Chappells ,but Thommo’s presence added further fuel to the madness.
With a rhythmic runup to the wicket, bouncy flowing hair and a slinging point of delivery action enough to turn the heads of fans and fill in the seats ,Thommo was extremely fast at almost 100 mph and had the ability to bowl lethal short pitched stuff from a good length spot ,moving the ball just enough and with a scorching yorker. There were incidents when his bouncers hit the boundary at half volley making the batsmen freeze at the sight . Thomson built up a tremendous partnership with the great Dennis Lillee during the 70s which demolished batting lineups of England and West Indies during 1974 to 76 tests in Australia . During those two seasons of test cricket in Australia, Thomson played 11 tests and took 62 wickets at lethal pace against strong batting lineups of England and West Indies . He picked up a nasty shoulder injury in 1977 series vs Pakistan in an on field collision with Alan Turner going for a catch,which reduced a bit of his pace subsequently. However still after his return he bowled fast enough to rattle opposition batsmen and also ended as the fastest bowler in a speed competition of top dozen of pace bowlers held in 1979 beating Holding and Imran to top the speed charts.(and that was 2 years after his shoulder injury). Thommo ended with 200 test wickets in 51 tests. One needs to be a great athlete to have a demanding bowling action like him.
A fast bowler not out of coaching manual but most exciting to watch and savour, Thommo is now an old man of 69 but still very fit and jovial . Here’s wishing him on 16th August , a happy birthday and a grand time ahead !!!