Pace legend Jeff Thomson and former wicketkeeper Wally Grout will be inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame (ACHoF) at the Allan Border Medal here on January 27.
ACHoF chairman David Crow today announced that Thomson and Grout were the selection committee’s choice for induction this year.
“Wally Grout was one of Australia’s finest wicketkeepers,” Crow said of the gloveman, who represented Australia in 51 Tests from 1957 to 1966.
“Luminaries such as Bob Simpson and Wes Hall claimed he was the finest gloveman they had ever seen.
“Wally Grout was the first player in Test history to claim six dismissals in an innings and that remains an Australian record which has since been matched by Rod Marsh, Ian Healy and Adam Gilchrist.
“Wally also set the record for the most catches taken in a Sheffield Shield innings, eight, which is now held jointly with Darren Berry.
“But Wally’s contribution went beyond immaculate wicketkeeping. He was highly regarded for his honesty, integrity and sense of humour.
“As captain, Richie Benaud relied on Wally for the team’s strategy because of his great understanding of the game.”
Thomson, still universally referred to as “Thommo”, was a terrifying fast bowler with a sling shot action who gained steep bounce to unsettle batsmen and in the process compiled an impressive haul of wickets.
“Only a handful of Australian cricketers had taken 200 Test wickets and Jeff did it at a strike rate of almost four wickets a Test, which is exceptional,” Crow said.
“But of course he was most famous for his pace and outright aggression, and it is was these qualities that people came to see when he played. He was a major drawcard for Australian cricket.”
Thomson, who played 51 Tests and 50 ODIs between 1972 and 1985, feels the recognition is a reward for all those who helped him during his cricket career.
“It’s for my wife and kids, my parents, my brothers, my mates, all those people who took me to cricket when I was young and helped me along the way,” Thomson said.
“I got a ring from a mate of my brother’s who I hadn’t spoken to for 30 years. He was rapt and said how weird it was for a bunch of kids who used to play cricket for hours against a telephone pole that one of us was now in the Hall of Fame.”
Thomson rates winning the Ashes in 1974-75, after a difficult debut two seasons earlier with a broken foot, playing the 1975 World Cup Final, which Australia lost to the West Indies at a packed Lords, and beating the West Indies during 1975-76 as his career highlights.
“I had to work really hard to get back (into the Test side), and I never doubted I was good enough,” he said. “I always knew I was going to brain them, I just needed the opportunity.”