Jeff Thomson : biography

16 August 1950 -

Taking a relatively short run up to the crease, Thomson generated his pace with a slinging-style bowling action, clearly influenced by his former competitive javelin throwing, that began to accelerate the ball from lower than usual. He did not put a lot of work on the ball with his fingers, so he did not seam or swing the ball much and he adopted an uncomplicated approach to his work. He once described his bowling as, "I just roll up and go whang".. Retrieved 20 September 2007. Although he regularly bowled the bouncer, it was his ability to make the ball rise sharply from a length that earned him many wickets. The hard Australian pitches suited his style as he relied on bounce rather than movement to take wickets. John Benaud describes facing Thomson in a Sydney grade match:

So Thommo begins - the high stepping gait of a thoroughbred, bowling hand bobbing at waist level and the ball visible. It is conventional and comforting because facing a strange bowler for the first time invariably generates edginess. Then, in the split second before delivery, at gather, Thommo drags one leg behind the other in a sort of Swan Lake crossover, sways back and hides the ball behind his right knee - unconventional and very unsettling.

Forming an intimidating bowling partnership with Dennis Lillee, Thomson captured 33 wickets in the series and looked to set to beat Arthur Mailey's record of 36 Test wickets in an Australian season. However, he injured his shoulder playing a social tennis match during the rest day of the fifth Test at Adelaide and missed the rest of the summer. Australia's eventual winning margin was 4–1.

He was less at home on the slower wickets of England on the tour that followed and took only four wickets in five matches during the inaugural World Cup. In the subsequent four-Test series, he snared 16 wickets at 28.56. In the first Test at Edgbaston, he hit 49 from 67 balls and bagged 5/38 in England's second innings as Australia claimed the only decisive result of the series, which enabled them to retain the Ashes. At this time, Thomson hired a manager, David Lord, who negotiated a contract with the Brisbane radio station 4IP, reputedly worth A$63,000 per year for ten years. In the 1975–76 series against the West Indies, he took 29 wickets in the six Tests. He conceded a lot of runs but often induced the West Indies batsmen to play injudicious shots. Wisden thought his bowling had improved from the previous Australian season.. Retrieved 20 September 2007.

Collision

A severe injury resulted from an on-field collision with teammate Alan Turner as they both attempted a catch in the first Test match against Pakistan at Adelaide on Christmas Eve, 1976. A dislocation of his right collarbone forced him to miss the remainder of the season.. Retrieved 20 September 2007. Although he returned to Test cricket during the 1977 Ashes series in England, he was never as consistently fast again. Lillee missed the tour because of back problems, and Thomson responded as the spearhead of the attack by taking 23 wickets at 25.34 average. However, Australia's performance was hampered by the revelation that most of the team had signed to play World Series Cricket (WSC) in opposition to official cricket.

World Series Cricket

Thomson's relationship with WSC was complex. He did not hesitate to sign on, but his manager pointed out that his contract with 4IP required him to be available for Queensland. Lord extricated him from the WSC contract (along with the West Indian Alvin Kallicharan), prompting Kerry Packer to obtain an injunction preventing Lord (or any other third party) from inducing players to break their WSC agreements.

In the rebuilt Australian Test team of 1977–78, Thomson was the senior player after the recalled veteran, captain Bob Simpson. In the first Test against India at Brisbane, Thomson contributed seven wickets and 41 not out towards an Australian victory. During the second Test at Perth, he claimed six wickets and finished the series with 22 wickets at an average of 23.45. Australia had a narrow 3–2 win that helped the ACB maintain its optimism that it could win the war with WSC.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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