Sport

Greats salute Big Max

MAX Walker said he was always happy playing second fiddle to Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson but after his death from cancer aged 68, the lovable larrikin should be remembered as more than a bit-part player.

Walker first came to note as an Australian rules footballer after signing for Melbourne in 1966.

He was still at high school when Demons coach Norm Smith went to the Walker home in west Hobart.

The following year he made his VFL debut and spent six seasons with the club, playing a total of 85 games and earning one Brownlow vote in 1968 as a ruck/defender.

At the same time he had been playing Sheffield Shield cricket for Victoria and also earned a call-up for the Australian Test side, and was juggling the two careers.

Then, after coming home from the Australian cricket team's 1972-73 tour of the West Indies, he told the Demons his footy career was over.

Football's loss was cricket's gain and Walker went on to be one of the country's best-loved players of the 1970s.

Recalling his career recently on Fox Sport's Cricket Legends, Walker said he did not mind being in the shadow of Australian greats, but his career figures suggest he should be remembered as more than the bloke who came on after Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.

"You're sitting in the dressing room and you look around and see Dennis Lillee, Rodney Marsh, Ian Chappell, Greg Chappell, Dougie Walters, Ashley Mallett, (Ian) Redpath, (Keith) Stackpole, and you think 'my goodness I come from Hobart, Tasmania, what am I doing sitting here?'," he said.

"It was such a privilege to be selected and to bowl behind and in collaboration with Lillee and Thomson, arguably one of the best fast-bowling attacks ever.

"For me at leg gully to watch them bowl was extraordinary."

Someone who knew him best was his captain for most of Walker's 34 Test matches, Ian Chappell.

Speaking to 3AW Mornings, Chappell recalled Walker's second Test against Pakistan when he took 6-15 at the SCG with the visitors only needing 156 to win and with Lillee struggling with a back problem.

Walker's spell won Australia the game and the legend was born, and so was the nickname.

"Tangles (Walker) was all elbows and arms and thrashing around. As you said, he wasn't the quickest ... and he certainly wasn't the best-looking player, but I reckon he would have been a nightmare to play against," Chappell said.

Greg Chappell, who played with Walker in all of his 34 Tests, said the man with the strange bowling action was a true Aussie great.

"What did he come over from Hobart as, a footballer who could bat a bit? And he finished up playing a significant part as a bowler in a successful era of Australian cricket," said Chappell, 68.

"Max had a degree in architecture, even if he claimed the only thing he ever designed was a chook shed.

"He must have been clever because as he often joked, he managed to transform a career in cricket, football and architecture into talking and writing bull***t and getting well paid for it.

"I still meet people regularly who have either read one of 'Tang's' books or heard him speak and loved his work.

"And that was because he always gave value for money, either on the field or off it.

"There was a degree of truth in all those stories he told and the rest he embellished very cleverly, often concerning his father Big Max.

"I can't remember a day when he was less than happy and I was very saddened to hear of his passing."

Chappell was Walker's captain in the 1977 Centenary Test against England at the MCG, and said one of the many highlights to come out of that game was Walker's performance.

"The right arm over left earhole is how he described his bowling," Chappell said.

"Maybe Mike Proctor and Lance Cairns were similar but part of Max's distinguishing feature was his unusual action meaning batsmen were never always sure where the ball was coming.

"In the Centenary Test he knocked over English captain Tony Greig prompting a massive roar. The only difference was the roar came largely from Tangles as he charged down the pitch."

Another of Walker's teammates from those great Aussie sides of the 1970s, Keith Stackpole said his public persona was exactly the same as the one he had on the field.

"He was lovable, uncomplicated and a very astute man," said Stackpole, his captain for Victoria.

"In fact he became a legend when you put everything together that 'Big Tang' did.

"He was loved around the world by teammates and opponents alike and, to my mind, (was) seriously underestimated in part because he was first change to Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.

"You think of 'Thommo' and Lillee as the tearaways whereas 'Tang' was a medium-pacer with the biggest heart I have come across on the cricket field.

"Once he realised he wasn't a fast bowler, as distinct from a medium-fast bowler, he became a very, very good player.

"He changed, giving away the bouncers, and relying on his swing and line.

"In the West Indies in 1973 when Lillee broke down he carried the attack. Bob Massie was a spent force, Jeff Hammond did his job up one end, we had a pair of medium-pacers in Doug Walters and Greg Chappell plus a couple of average spin bowlers. 'Tang' did the hard work, but that's what he was always happy to do."

After his cricket career ended, Walker had a successful career in commentary, presenting and writing books.

A lot of people will know him for his time on Channel Nine's Wide World of Sports.

But he should be remembered, as his career statistics suggest, as one of Australia's best medium-pace bowlers.

He certainly should not go down in history as the other bloke who bowled with Lillee and Thompson.

Big Maxy was much more than that.

MAXWELL HENRY NORMAN WALKER

Born: September 12, 1948, West Hobart

Tests: 34, wickets: 138, best bowling: 8-143, average: 27.47

ODIs: 17, wickets: 17, best bowling: 4-19, average: 27.30

First-class games: 135, wickets: 499, best bowling: 8-143, average: 26.47

Topics:  max walker obituary sportfeature



Positive signs for Clarence Valley property market

Yamba had the most expensive units and houses over the year to October.

Yamba houses sell for median of $500,000 each

Top Pub raise a glass to Lower Clarence's revival

CHEERS TO THAT: Lower Clarence Magpies' captain-coach Dan Randall with new club sponsors, managers of the Maclean Hotel Zoe Jamieson and Mark Kirkland.

"If we can contribute to getting them on the field ... that's great”

Pauline Hanson calls Trump protesters "clowns"

 Thousands rally in support of equal rights, in Sydney, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Hundreds of rallies are due to take place in over 30 countries around the world following the inauguration of US President Donald Trump.

“Don’t these clowns have anything else better to do?"

Local Partners

Lifeguards commended after rescuing eight at Pippi

Lifeguards Harry Fahey and Mikey Gilliman talk about their 'textbook rescue' of eight swimmers while on patrol at Pippi Beach


Festival director joins stars at Sundance

ACTION: Wendy Gibbs, director of the Bent Bridge Film Festival, before heading off to the Sundance Film Festival in the US.

Rubbing shoulders with celebrities at film festival

5 things to do this weekend

Lower Clarence Relay for Life Swim

Looking for something to do this weekend?

Puppetry of the Penis secrets revealed ahead of show

The famed Puppetry of the Penis is coming to the Sunshine Coast for shows in Noosa and Caloundra.

WARNING: This interview contains adult themes and traces of nuts

Nicole reveals her biggest parenting challenges

Actress Nicole Kidman.

Nicole Kidman says her kids are ‘deeply attuned' to her moods.

Suicide Squad director reveals his regrets about the film

Margot Robbie in a scene from the movie Suicide Squad.

DIRECTOR of superhero flick on what he’d change about ‘flawed’ film.

Meet the new Marco on MasterChef Australia: Yotam Ottolenghi

Israeli-born, London-based chef Yotam Ottolenghi will be a guest chef for a week on the 2017 season of MasterChef Australia.

AFTER Marco’s defection to Seven, MasterChef signs a true food hero.

Big Bang spin-off to be about kid Sheldon

Jim Parsons in a scene from the TV series The Big Bang Theory.

Actor Jim Parsons has dished on an upcoming Big Bang Theory spin-off

How Adam Brand’s Nashville dream fell apart

Country music singer Adam Brand talks about how heartbreak stopped him chasing his Nashville dream.

SINGER reveals how heartbreak stopped him from chasing his dream.

JADA goes to the nation

RELIABLE: Shannon Piddock and Troy Sievers from S&D Welch Transport pick up the 2016 JADA artworks to take back to the depot for loading onto its specialist transport.

Clarence promotes its art by the truckload

Positive signs for Clarence Valley property market

Yamba had the most expensive units and houses over the year to October.

Yamba houses sell for median of $500,000 each

Thousands of jobs part of $1b retirement village project

THIS YEAR: An artist impression of the new Aveo retirement village in Springfield.

Aveo Springfield unveiled this month, homes ready by July

Rates safe from land value hike

DRIVING GROWTH: The Pacific Highway upgrade has been linked to improved land values.

Figures up in latest valuer-general report

KNIFE-EDGE: The housing tightrope we now face

Even the smallest interest rate rise will be hard for some to handle.

One if five home owners at risk, according to new analysis

Historical home leaves family's hands after 75 years

SALE CONFIRMED: The Gympie Regional   Realty team which sold the Ramsey property are (back) Mel Gastigar, Dorothy Palmer and Margaret Cochrane, with (front) home seller Terri-Jayne Ramsey.

Ramsey family played a huge role in Gympie's growth.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!