South Coast author Jeremy Wilshire talks with the who’s who of world cricket

WHAT AN EXPERIENCE? Jerrara author Jeremy Wilshire has released his latest book Test of Character Confessions of Cricket Legends.
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE? Jerrara author Jeremy Wilshire has released his latest book Test of Character Confessions of Cricket Legends.

WHEN author Jeremy Wilshire interviewed former Australian opening batsman and member of Bradman’s Invincibles, Arthur Morris, he never dreamed it would lead to a book.

Or him speaking to some of cricket’s greats from around the world.

But that’s the journey the Jerrara (west of Kiama) writer has undertaken.

Test of Character Confessions of Cricket Legends,  is Jeremy’s latest book, which takes readers onto the field and into the dressing room.

Unflinchingly honest, evocative and at times controversial Test of Character allows readers to witness cricket’s seminal moments and explores the biggest issues facing the game today.

“This book has been about 10 years in the making,” he said.

“I was fortunate to interview Arthur Morris in 2004 about the ’48 tour and the big run chase he was part of with Sir Donald Bradman.

“He gave me some great insights into the sport and how he went about his game.

“At the time I didn’t know what I was going to use it for. I later spoke to Greg Chappell for my other book One Of Those Days and with his thoughts I could see the makings of a book.

“With the help of the LBW Trust I was able to launch this project and with their association and contacts we were able to get other legends onboard.

“I was focussed on a single match players could nominate that epitomised Test cricket for them.

“While that was very interesting it soon became apparent there was a deeper book around their personal experiences and some of the burning issues in the game.”

What transpired was interviews with 30 of the game’s biggest names and characters from across the globe.

“I wanted to make it truly global and was lucky to have representatives of all eight cricketing nations,” he said.

The likes of Greg Chappell, Ian Chappell, Michael Clarke,  Alan Davidson, Rahul Dravid, Adam Gilchrist, David Gower, Sir Richard Hadlee, Michael Holding, Kim Hughes, Brett Lee, Brendon McCullum, Muttiah Muralidaran, Mohammad Nabi, Bishan Bedi, Kerry O’Keeffe, Ellyse Perry, Barry Richards, Kumar Sangakkara, Craig McDermott, Graeme Smith, Alec Stewart, Graeme Swann, Mark Taylor and Mark Waugh are featured in the book.

“I was lucky in 2015 the World Cup was held in Australia and a lot of ex-players were here and were happy to sit down and chat,” he said.

“There were some great interviews and memorable moments.

“At times I did have to pinch myself that I was interviewing some of the legends of the game.”

He also spoke to former umpire Dickie Bird, cricket writer Mike Coward, commentator and writer Harsha Bhogle and television personality Waleed Aly.

Australia’s Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove wrote the forward while there is also an interesting piece with huge cricket fan John Cleese.

There’s first-hand accounts of the famous tied Test of 1961, the drama-charged Centenary Test, India’s miracle comeback in Kolkata and the Edgbaston thriller of 2005 are all recounted.

“It was great to speak with the players or commentators who were part of these pivotal moments,” he said.

“I was able to talk to Michael Clarke about his feelings in making that century after Phillip Hughes’ death.  Kumar Sangakkara about the terrorist attack on the team bus in Pakistan and why Muttiah Muralidaran finds it hard to forgive then Prime Minister John Howard for calling him a ‘chucker’.

“It was great to be able to talk to players from different eras. Alan Davidson was a prime example. A thorough gentleman, who at 87 rolled out his memories from the ’50s and ’60s and in particularly the Tied Test like it was yesterday.

“I really enjoyed chatting to David Gower, who can be quite eccentric, but is also very self analytical and not afraid to address his failings of foibles.

“Bishan Bedi and Graeme Swann were wonderfully entertaining, while Sir Richard Hadlee, Graham Smith and Alex Stewart, who might not been that positively represented in Australian media, were wonderfully generous and had great insights into the game.

“John Cleese and Waleed Aly offered different perspectives on the game. The half an hour with Cleese was amazing. He’s so sharp with figures and performances, had lots of anecdotes and regularly attends games. While Aly was interesting about cultural integration within the game and gambling on sport which are issues.”