Jeff Thomson was one of the fastest and most fearsome bowlers cricket has seen Adrian Murrell / © Getty Images
Thomson was one of cricket’s most fearsome pacemen and took 200 wickets at 28.00 from 51 Tests, and was also regarded by many who faced him as the fastest bowler the game has seen. He formed a terrifying partnership with Dennis Lillee during the 1970s and in particular demolished England during the 1974-75 Ashes, which was just Thomson’s second Test series.
“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,” David Crow, the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame chairman, 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, now 65, rates the 1974-75 Ashes as a career highlight, along with playing in the 1975 World Cup final, and beating West Indies during 1975-76. He had made his Test debut in 1972-73 against Pakistan but went wicketless in his one Test appearance that season, which he played with a broken foot, and he was finally given another chance two years later.
“I had to work really hard to get back (into the Test side), and I never doubted I was good enough,” Thomson said. “I always knew I was going to brain them, I just needed the opportunity.”
Of the Hall of Fame honour, Thomson said: “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. 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.”
Like Thomson, Grout also played 51 Tests, and he finished his career with 187 wicketkeeping dismissals, which at the time made him the Australian record holder and the second most prolific keeper in Test history behind England’s Godfrey Evans. His Test career lasted from 1957 to 1966, and he died of a heart attack at the age of 41, less than three years after his last Test.
“Wally Grout was one of Australia’s finest wicketkeepers,” Crow said. “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.”
Grout and Thomson take the number of Hall of Fame inductees to 43 since its inception in 1996.
Hall of Fame inductees Warwick Armstrong, Richie Benaud, John Blackham, Allan Border, Sir Donald Bradman, Greg Chappell, Ian Chappell, Belinda Clark, Alan Davidson, George Giffen, Adam Gilchrist, Clarrie Grimmett, Wally Grout, Neil Harvey, Lindsay Hassett, Ian Healy, Clem Hill, Bill Lawry, Dennis Lillee, Ray Lindwall, Charles Macartney, Rod Marsh, Stan McCabe, Glenn McGrath, Graham McKenzie, Keith Miller, Arthur Morris, Monty Noble, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Ponsford, Jack Ryder, Bob Simpson, Fred Spofforth, Mark Taylor, Jeff Thomson, Hugh Trumble, Victor Trumper, Charlie Turner, Doug Walters, Shane Warne, Mark Waugh, Steve Waugh, Bill Woodfull.
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo