Big Mac wanted to kill us

“Bic Mac couldn’t pick Warnie at all, he didn’t have a clue. Before the tour we had decided not to sledge Brian because he was bigger than all of us and we didn’t want to provoke him, but Warnie couldn’t resist it: ‘Hey, Big Mac, I’ll call them out to you – maybe that’ll help’.”

“So for the next three or four overs Warnie called every ball: ‘leg spinner’ – and Big Mac would play and miss. Next ball: ‘wrong’un’ – and it would hit Big Mac on the pad. Next ball: ‘flipper’… and so it went on. It didn’t help Brian much, though. He couldn’t score a run. Couldn’t lay a bat on it.

“Eventually Brian had had enough and he walked down the pitch to Warnie at the end of the over. ‘Hey, Shane…you’re coming to South Africa next month. Hundreds of people go missing or die in our country every day…another one won’t make any difference.’

“Well, Warnie turned white. He couldn’t bowl – suddenly it was full tosses and half trackers. I ran up from first slip at the end of the over and asked him if he was OK. ‘Do you think he meant it?’ was all he could say.”

The story is told by former Australian captain Mark Taylor, speaking at the Primary Club breakfast on the morning of the Sydney Test. His topic is ‘sledging’ on the 1993-94 series and how effective it could be.

Taylor has loved the forthright views and opinions expressed by players before and during the current series and emphasises that, as long as it isn’t personal, there will always be a place for ‘chat.’

He recounted the tale of McMillan telling Alan Border that he was “going to shoot” him at the close of play. Sure enough he entered the Australian dressing room with an SAP regulation issue handgun and demanded to see Border.

“AB was 38-years-old at the time,” said Taylor, “and were all prepared to sacrifice him. ‘Down there’ we all shouted, pointing to where AB was sitting. Big Mac walked slowly up to him, put the gun down on the bench and slowly reached into each pocket pulling out a couple of cans of Castle.

‘Fancy a beer?'”

The Patron of the Primary Club is none other than Richie Benaud and I had the pleasure of sitting next to his wife, Daphne. She is as charming, witty and down-to-earth as I’d always heard. One of the prizes in the charity raffle was a signed copy of Richie’s latest book, ‘My Spin on Cricket’.

“I hope I don’t win the book,” she said, straight faced. “I’ve read it.”

At a lunch of 480, each of whom had bought an average of four raffle tickets, the odds on the person next to Daphne Benaud winning her husband’s book had to be remote. But I did. “I’m sure Richie will be delighted to write a message in it,” said Daphne. The great man had left the breakfast early, soon after his speech, to prepare for the day’s production in the Channel Nine commentary box.

Talking of his speech, he had some interesting things to say about the public ‘sledging’ being carried out in the country’s newspapers between the likes of Glenn McGrath, Graeme Smith and Shane Warne during the series.

“Love it,” he grinned. “It’s created wonderful interest in this series.

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