Cult Cricketers- Greg Matthews

22 Mar

To mark the cricket world cup final week I have put together a random group of posts to some cult cricket stars…not sure why.

In the Mid 1980’s it looked like the rebuilding of the Australian Cricket team would be built around Greg Matthews. In 1985-1987 he seemed to be on fire. However he was soon relegated to a bit player and …well lets return to that.

Matthews is one of those players considered an enigma. In reality it just meant he was different. Theres a great story in”Calypso Cricket” where Matthews tells Chris Reid he doesn’t rate the Beatles. Reid is shocked. The exchange tells you all you need to know. 80s 90s cricket was still dominated by the almost mobish hard straight man of Chappel/Lillee…don’t get me started on Marsh. The image dominated for a long time. Matthews was labelled a “punk in a baggy green cap”( Possibly by O’Reilly I can’t remember) or one journalist called it petit-punk hair..which means what ? In reality he had slightly spiky hair, an earring and didn’t like the Beatles. His hair was never as good as Colin Millers (Sorry Greg) but he was seen as a rebel for it and his dress sense none the less. Again just remember that Marsh would wear budgie smugglers on a good day.

As a cricketer he was a fairly solid left hand batsmen. He could easily hold his place on runs alone and in the 85/6 season they came a plenty. His bowling was match winning at times and as an off spinner who seemed 30 years younger than every other spinner in Australia played himself into history in the tied test in India. Bowling often in a double sweater in the 90 degree heat. However it seemed his ability to play air cricket bat and a so-called argument over a barbecued steak put Matthews on the outside and soon he was dropped and picked back up with regularity. This does nothing for a players confidence and it showed.

Matthews never seemed supported to concentrate on his batting game at the expense of finding a role for him as an all-rounder. You cant help but notice the different approach with the Waugh’s who both dropped bowling from the selection equation to create long careers.

His cult status is assured, a fan favourite ( though many particularly in New Zealand seemed antagonized by him ) who seemed to run the establishment up the wrong way for being himself. The golden summer of 85/6 will always be his with 3 centuries and some important bowling contributions. He was an entertainer and gave 110%. He scored 79 in his last test innings but was still dropped. It seems the Border era never really supported or engaged him and was happy to move on.

Hopefully one day he will release an autobiography to finally give his side of the story. Many less successful and certainly less entertaining cricketers have done so.

1987 Greg Matthews t-shirts

I wonder if you can still get these …


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