Former Australian fast bowler Max Walker (right) enjoys a drink with iconic sports singer Greg Champion.
Former Australian fast bowler Max Walker (right) enjoys a drink with iconic sports singer Greg Champion. Jay Cronan

Welcome back, Max Walker

TEST cricket legend Max Walker has had so many impersonators since Billy Birmingham did send-ups of his voice on the 12th Man CD series, he admits many people can ‘‘do a better Maxy Walker than I can''.

“I was playing golf the other day with an avid Sri Lankan cricket fan and he couldn't believe he was teeing off with me so he rang his brother,” Walker said.

“I got on the line and did the usual ‘yes, welcome back to the SCG' Max Walker voice and the bloke tells me his brother just did a better impersonation than I did.”

And there were plenty more Max Walker wannabes last night at a Lords Taverners dinner at the Zest Function Centre at Southern Cross University in Lismore last night where Walker was guest speaker.

The Lords Taverners help under-privileged or disadvantaged people enjoy sport.

Walker was thrilled to be back in Lismore where he played an exhibition match at Oakes Oval many years ago in the Kerry Packer era of World Series Cricket.

Walker has proven to be a confident and well-informed public speaker following a successful cricket career where he took 138 Test wickets in a golden era alongside great fast bowlers Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.

Pressed on whether Australian cricket is moving in the right direction following opening batsman Simon Katich being dropped in contentious circumstances from the nation's 25-man contracted squad, Walker understood the selectors' reasons.

“If you look at Katich's form over the last 12 months, you'd say he was hard done by,” Walker said.

“But the fact is Australia lost three Ashes Tests by three innings – that's not acceptable.

“(National talent manager) Greg Chappell has looked towards the future.”

Walker believes Aussie cricket fans should not be up in arms about the selectors' youth policy.

“Everyone was aghast when they sacked Ian Healy as Australia's wicketkeeper for a bloke named Adam Gilchrist,” Walker said.

“And look what Gilly ended up doing.

“Putting on a zoom lens is easy in hindsight (but not in the present).”

Walker believes Michael Clarke has the goods to be successful in his new role as Australian cricket captain.

“Tactically, Clarke is brilliant and he has a wonderful opportunity,” Walker said.

Walker said the biggest challenge for today's young bowlers was adapting to so many different versions of the game.

“It's like changing gears and it's very difficult,” he said.

Walker is disappointed Australian cricket did not utilise Lillee enough as a coach.

Lillee quit his Australian fast bowling coach role in 2004 over a contract dispute.

“I taught him how to bowl a leg cutter,” Walker laughed.

“But he's the best judge of a batsman's weakness I've ever seen.

“It's a shame we didn't use him enough.”



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