Melbourne: One-day cricket was the brainchild of Sir Donald Bradman and it was only money and nothing else which encouraged its introduction into the international arena, believes former Australian captain Bill Lawry.
The game which had been embraced by the domestic circles of England for over eight years, finally began its international journey on January 5, 1971.
Distraught at losing their annual MCG cash cow with rain forcing players to stay indoors during the third Ashes Test at Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) on the onset of 1971, there was only one man which the Australian Board looked to, Sir Donald Bradman.
“My memory is Sir Donald came up with the idea to make some money. He was good at that,” Lawry quipped.
“They got around 46,000 which raised over USD 30,000, good money back then. I don’t think there were any pre-sold tickets, just people walking up on the day after the Test match was abandoned on day three (January 2),” Lawry said.
Recalling the events, the former captain said, “We didn’t know how to play a one-day game. In that game against England we went after them like a Test match with three slips and a gully because that was what you did.”
“There were no field restrictions and we thought it was just a matter of really getting on with it. We later worked out you had to construct a total otherwise you just ended up getting in trouble,” the veteran told the reporters.
Australia however came out smiling, under the blue sky which had eluded Melbourne for a week, even though they did not have enough experience at the sport.
One of the success stories from the one-off game was Alan “Froggy” Thomson, who etched his name into the record books after he claimed first ever one-day wicket when he had Geoff Boycott caught behind square leg for eight.
The uncanny fast bowler drew his name “Froggy” from the windmill action that saw him bowl right-arm fast off the wrong foot. Lawry, who took the catch, remembers Thomson with obvious enthusiasm.
“He had come down to Northcote to bowl a few balls to me in 1968 on someone’s recommendation. The first ball went over my head into the Merri Creek and the second nearly killed a kid in the next net,” Lawry expressed.
“So I said he should go back to his local Presbyterians side and gain a bit of control. Instead he went to Fitzroy and within a few months was playing for Victoria and taking plenty of wickets (184 at 26.72 in first-class cricket),” he said.
The One-day International at Melbourne apparently was among the last few games where Lawry marshalled the Australians, before the formidable batsman was axed by the selectors for the final Test in Sydney, with England leading the series 1-0.