Jeff Thomson

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Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust, if Thomson don't get ya, Lillee must.

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 a lower position than is typical. 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.[ citation needed ] He once described his bowling as, "I just roll up and go whang". [42] Although he regularly bowled the bouncer, it was his ability to make the ball rise sharply from a length that earned him many wickets. [2] 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. [42]

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 Test 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. [39]

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. [43]

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. [44]

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. Australia's performance was said to suffer by the revelation that most of the team had signed to play World Series Cricket (WSC) in opposition to official cricket, although skipper Greg Chappell concedes his side would have been beaten anyway. [45]

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.[ citation needed ]

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.[ citation needed ] Thomson, meanwhile, had success at domestic level, taking 6/18 in his only Gillette Cup appearance, against South Australia in Brisbane, which was enough to be voted man-of-the-series, winning him a prize of two return tickets to Fiji. [46]

Simpson lobbied for Thomson's appointment as vice-captain of the team to tour the West Indies. Thomson produced his fastest spell since his comeback in the second Test at Bridgetown, Barbados, when he knocked off Viv Richards' cap and finished with 6/77. [42] However, his bowling fell away in the later Tests.[ citation needed ]

During the winter, Thomson expressed a desire to join his teammates playing WSC, which paid for a court challenge to his contract.

The ACB had a rare[ vague ] victory over WSC when the judge ruled against the proposed move, and criticised Thomson's business acumen.

Thomson played a single limited-overs match for Queensland, taking 6/18, and then in September "retired" from Test cricket from 30 September onwards. He said he would remain available for Sheffield Shield. [47]

As part of the negotiations for the peace treaty between the two organisations, the ACB agreed to let Thomson play in WSC's tour of the Caribbean in the spring of 1979. Reunited with Lillee, he returned 16 wickets in five "Supertests", including 5/78 at Trinidad.

The reunion of the partnership for Test cricket was less successful. A number of fast bowlers had enjoyed success for Australia during Thomson's absence from the team, yet the selectors were keen to see Lillee and Thomson attempt to reprise their success of the mid-1970s. However, Thomson managed only two Tests in 1979–80 when he was dropped. He played four ODIs in the first World Series Cup, but bowled erratically in two-day/night matches against England at the SCG that confirmed his unsuitability to limited-overs cricket. Thereafter, injuries contributed to his absence from the team.

Overlooked for the 1981 Ashes tour of England, he decided to spend the season with Middlesex in the hope that he might be needed as a late replacement in the Australian team, but he got injured. [48]

Thomson reclaimed his place in 1981–82 when he played eight of the nine Tests against Pakistan and the West Indies (in Australia) and in New Zealand. His figures were pedestrian: 20 wickets at 36.4, with a best of 4/51. However, he found a regular place in the ODI team and took 19 wickets (at 27.42 average) in 13 matches during the World Series Cup.

On the tour of Pakistan later in the year, he took just three wickets in three Tests.

Dropped for the first Test at home against England, Thomson owed his recall to a knee injury suffered by Lillee. In the remaining four Tests, he enjoyed success in taking 22 wickets at 18.68. At times, he reached top pace, claiming 5/73 at Brisbane, and 5/50 at Sydney in the fifth Test, his last in Australia. His performance in the World Series Cup, 19 wickets in 13 matches with an RPO of 4.01, was his best in an ODI tournament.

Continuing with Queensland as captain, Thomson was chosen for the 1985 tour of England. The rebel tours to South Africa had stripped the Australian team of pace bowlers. In the first Test, his match figures were 2/174, and he was omitted until the Fifth Test, when he scored 28 not out in the first innings, his highest Test score since 1977. His only wicket was Graham Gooch, giving him 200 Test wickets. [49]

Thomson never represented Australia again; he did, however, help Queensland reach the Sheffield Shield final in his last season of first-class cricket in 1985–86, [50] but they missed out to NSW.

Personal life

Prior to his marriage, Thomson's dashing good looks, skill, and strong physique made him "very much a cynosure of ladies’ eyes". [51] His reputation as a ladies' man came to a head during the 1979 Cricket World Cup when he was greeted by Queen Elizabeth II, who Thomson claimed remarked: "So you're the chap who has been giving our girls a hard time." [52] [53] He added in 2015 that the "lady-in-waiting saw me two years ago in Canberra and she told me those exact words, 'word for word'." [54]

Thomson married model Cheryl Wilson after they caught each other's eyes during a cricket game; they have been a couple for more than 40 years. [55] The wedding flowers were supplied by the legendary fast bowler and florist Ray Lindwall. [56] [57]

Thomson bought a Ford Falcon Phase III GTHO for $23,000 in the late 1980s, which in modern times is in incredibly high demand with collectors and investors. Thomson sold his Phase III for A$1,030,000 in 2018; it still bears its original seat belts, carpets, spare tyre and log books. [58] This demand is, in part, due to a small production run—only 300 were ever made, and it’s believed that fewer than a third of these vehicles remain. [59] [60]

In 2015, Thomson joined Ian Chappell, Len Pascoe, and Doug Walters in a charity luncheon to raise money to fight depression. [61]

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Jeff Thomson
LILLEE AND THOMSON (2877049442).jpg
Dennis Lillee (left) with Jeff Thomson (right)
Personal information
Full nameJeffery Robert Thomson
Born (1950-08-16) 16 August 1950 (age 72)
Greenacre, New South Wales, Australia
NicknameThommo, Two-Up
BowlingRight arm fast
Role Bowler
International information
National side
Test debut(cap  262)29 December 1972 v  Pakistan
Last Test20 August 1985 v  England
ODI debut(cap  28)1 January 1975 v  England
Last ODI3 June 1985 v  England
Domestic team information