Alf Stone, Keith Wyatt, Steve Small and Steve Twohill prepare for the NSW Baggy Blues Country Challenge.
Alf Stone, Keith Wyatt, Steve Small and Steve Twohill prepare for the NSW Baggy Blues Country Challenge. Daniel Mckenzie

Aussie legends to load up on the Tweed

LIVING history will be on show when the Baggy Blues cricketers visit Murwillumbah in January for a T20 fixture featuring former New South Wales players.

The match, to be played on January 20 at Rabjones Oval, will feature a host of NSW cricketing legends, including feared former Australian opening pair Jeff (Thommo) Thompson and Len (Lennie) Pascoe.

The match will coincide with a Baggy Blues legends dinner to be held the night prior to the match, on January 19 at the Haven Restaurant in Murwillumbah.

The night will feature the reunion of the fearsome duo, Pascoe and the once fastest bowler in the world, Thompson.

The duo will reunite a relationship dating back to the mid 1960s, when the pair opened the bowling for Punchbowl High School in Sydney. Long before they were terrorising international batsmen, Lenny and Thommo were sending a message throughout Sydney with their pace, letting all batsmen know to beware.

Going on to play for Bankstown in Sydney grade, their reputation quickly grew. Many stories have been told about broken stumps and body parts over the years during a period of dominance when they still appeared to be growing faster. Thommo was clocked at over 160kmh, and many say he was even faster as he sent batsmen sprawling and shuffling across the crease with his thunderbolt slinging action. Many grade batsmen in Sydney waited in fear as the duo would turn up at suburban grounds in their VW Beetle with surfboards strapped to the roof, ready to terrorise another batting order on their way to international dominance.

The pair was known for their nonchalance and laid-back approach and it was an awesome sight getting out the small VW, sometimes still wet after a Saturday morning surf. They were more often late or just on time, with many opposing batsmen watching the clock prior to game time, hoping the surf was too good for the pair to leave.

But they would always turn up, already warmed up and ready to fire through the first few overs, where Thommo in particular could be erratic. In a bygone era when there was no limit on how many bouncers could be bowled, Thommo sent balls zipping past a batsman’s head, followed by a few toe - jamming yorkers. Lennie, who was more controlled with his delivery, concentrated on sharp rising balls off a good length, and he seemed to just be softening you up, with continual body blows pleasing him. Thommo’s field consisted of many slips half way to the boundary, and a young talented country boy from Albury recounts on his first ball in Sydney first grade a bouncer from Thommo that half volleyed into the sight board.

I had a few brief encounters with the pair in the late ’60s. They saw improvement in my gully glide and slip drive, and to survive the experience was exciting and rewarding. The pair were very amicable after the game, and would always have a beer with you and enquire about your bruises with a wry smile on their face. We did not have much protective equipment then, or helmets, so simply surviving their onslaught was achievement enough.

I’m sure the pair will prove very entertaining at the Legends Dinner, and the night is simply not to be missed, with a host of other NSW legends also set to be in attendance. Thommo and Lennie both had illustrious careers, and I’m sure they will share many stories from the test arena, World Series and Sydney grade also.

Visit murwillumbahcc. nsw.cricket.com.au for bookings, or contact Steve Twohill on 0412 084 105 or murbahcricket@gmail.com.



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