by Paul George
Paul Sheahan, the Chair of Lord’s Taverners Tasmania rang me with the news that Max Walker had left us.
A lot has been written about Max and his cricket career, his football career, his academic qualifications, and his extraordinary success as an author.
So I thought I would tell you about my personal Max Walker moments.
I was at Eden Park, Auckland when Australia played New Zealand in the second of a two test series in February 1977. Richard Hadlee was in his pomp, Greg Chappell got run out after spanking a streaker with his bat and losing concentration, Dennis Lillee took 11 wickets and Australia won by 10 wickets.
The memory that has stayed with me, though, is Max Walker coming in to bowl from the hill end of Eden Park and as he released the ball something went wrong. The ball travelled exactly the right distance for a good length ball, but back in the direction he had just come from.
Everyone thought it was hilarious, but Max didn’t have a bad match either, taking five wickets.
As someone who attends Lord’s Taverners functions to photograph them and write about them, I have had the good fortune to photograph some of sport’s luminaries.
At my first Lord’s Taverners function, for instance, I photographed Graham Gooch and Alastair Cook, and sat next to Kristen Beams, a 2004 Tasmanian Junior Lord’s Taverner who has just destroyed the Sri Lankan batting in the Southern Stars September 2016 tour.
On January 23, 2015 Max Walker was the guest speaker at a Lord’s Taverners function before the Australia v England ODI.
As is my habit at these events, I started prowling the room with my camera in hand.
Max looked up, saw me, understood what I was doing, nodded and maintained eye contact. I took this pic, gave him a thumbs up, and he went back to his conversation.
A passionate Tasmanian, Max entertained us that day with stories that included facing Joel Garner under lights, growing up in Hobart, and playing alongside Dennis Lillie and Jeff Thomson.
He also talked about his love of cricket, and the pride he felt wearing the baggy green.
And then, holding his baggy green in one hand and the microphone in the other, he turned and looked straight at me again, giving me the photo (top) that I rate as the best I have taken at a Lord’s Taverners function.
He was entertaining, generous with his time, funny and more than happy to have his picture taken with our guests wearing his baggy green
I took the opportunity to remind him of the backwards delivery at Eden Park. “Yeah,” he said, “I’ve had one or two come out not quite right…”
We’ll miss him.
R.I.P. Mr Walker
“And then, holding his baggy green in one hand and the microphone in the other, he turned and looked straight at me again…”