Max Walker: former Australian cricketer dies aged 68
The former Test cricketer, whose unconventional bowling action earned him the nickname ‘Tangles’, had battled cancer post-retirement
Cricketer Max Walker shakes hands with the Queen with the rest of his teammates watching on. Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images
Max Walker, the former Australian Test cricketer and commentator, has died at the age of 68. He died overnight following a two-year battle with cancer, it was reported on Wednesday.
Ian Chappell, Walker’s former captain and co-worker, told 3AW he had found out only days ago that Walker was “in bad shape”. Commentator Kerry O’Keefe tweeted that he was a “gentle ... decent ... respectful” man: “Vale T Foot!”
In a statement on behalf of Cricket Victoria, chief executive officer Tony Dodemaide said: “It is with great sadness that we learned of Max’s sudden passing today. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the Walker family and their friends at this difficult time.”
“A gentlemen of his era, Max was able to be part of some moments that will be cherished forever in cricket history and will continue to inspire future generations.”
Dean Jones, the former Test batsman, said he was “so sad” to hear of Walker’s passing: “What a great cricketer, author and story teller. Ripper bloke whose smile lit up a room!” Jones signed off with the hashtag “#263” – Walker’s baggy green cap number.
Commentator Drew Morphett tweeted that Walker was “everyone’s mate”, while former all-rounder Tom Moody said he was a “wonderful man who gave so much colour to all our lives”.
“An unmistakeable bowling action, presence and voice,” tweeted Bill Shorten, the Opposition leader. “A humble servant of the game he loved.”
Walker made his Test debut in 1973 and took 138 wickets in 34 Tests as a medium-fast bowler. His unconventional bowling action – which he described as “right-arm over left earhole, legs crossed at the point of delivery” – earned him the nickname “Tangles” or “Tanglefoot”.
“Against a good player, you might only get one or two chances in an innings,” he told ESPN’s CricInfo magazine. “Once you’ve shown him what you’re going to do, it’s all over, you have to come up with something else.”
Gideon Haigh wrote that Walker was a “strapping paceman whose convoluted wrong-footed action ... was imitated in backyard games across the country”.
Walker’s performances in the 1972-3 tour of the West Indies, when he took 26 wickets to help win the series 2-0, and in the sixth Test of the 1974-5 Ashes series in Melbourne, when he claimed 8 for 143, are widely regarded as career highlights.
Cricket Australia (CA) CEO James Sutherland also paid tribute to the former star. “Max was an outstanding cricketer who played an important role in the emergence of successful Australian cricket teams in the 1970s,” Sutherland said in a statement on behalf of CA.
“The cricket world will be deeply saddened to hear of Max’s sudden passing. As a cricketer, with ball or bat in hand, Max was always fiercely competitive. He was a genuine crowd favourite wherever he played – and nowhere more so than at his beloved MCG, where he had also played senior football prior to his Test debut.
“On behalf of everyone at Cricket Australia our deepest sympathies go out to Max’s family, friends and all those in cricket who had the pleasure of dealing with him. He was a great character, with a big smile and positive approach to life. He will be sadly missed.”
After retiring from playing, he became a cricket commentator, media personality and bestselling author, including a stint as co-host of Channel Nine’s Wide World of Sports program. He was a member of the Nine Network’s commentary team between 1986 and 1991, and worked with the network until 1999, hosting the AFL Sunday Footy Show between 1993 and 1998 and presenting sport for Nine News in Melbourne.
“At Nine and across the game we have lost a genuine hero of Australian cricket with Max Walker’s sad passing,” said Hugh Marks, CEO of Nine. “He was terrific bowler as his Test record shows, but an even better bloke. He will be missed by the whole Nine family.
“Larger than life on and off the field, a huge character with that laconic, laid-back approach to sport and life. Just a big, cuddly colourful bloke whom everyone really liked – his opponents just as much as the rest of us. Max leaves an indelible signature on Australian cricket and its culture. He will be profoundly missed.”
Nine director of sport Tom Malone said: “Max was a pioneer of the industry, making the transition from elite sportsman to television host seamlessly. He was a true Aussie character, whose enthusiasm and love for life was infectious. He will be sorely missed. Max was and will always remain, a treasured member of the Wide World of Sports family.”
Walker was named a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to cricket and the community in 2011. He was born Maxwell Henry Norman Walker in Hobart, Tasmania, on 12 September 1948. He qualified as an architect in 1973 with a fellowship diploma in architecture from RMIT, and went on to practise for 10 years.
He also played 93 matches in six years of VFL football with the Melbourne football club, before giving up the winter game at the age of 22 to focus on cricket and his architecture career.https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2016/sep/28/max-walker-former-australian-cricketer-dies-aged-68