Greg Matthews Personal information Full name Gregory Richard John Matthews Born 15 December 1959
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Nickname Mo Batting style Left-handed Bowling style Right-arm off-spinner Role All Rounder International information National side Australia Test debut (cap 322) 26 December 1983 v Pakistan Last Test 6 January 1993 v West Indies ODI debut (cap 78) 8 January 1984 v West Indies Last ODI 18 January 1993 v West Indies Domestic team information Years Team 1982-97 New South Wales Career statistics Competition Test ODIs FC LA Matches 33 59 190 122 Runs scored 1,849 50 8,872 1,366 Batting average 41.08 16.72 38.91 18.71 100s/50s 4/12 -/1 13/49 -3 Top score 130 54 184 61* Balls bowled 6,271 2,808 39,103 5,584 Wickets 61 57 516 119 Bowling average 48.22 35.15 31.80 31.85 5 wickets in innings 2 - 22 2 10 wickets in match 1 - 5 - Best bowling 5/103 3/27 8/52 4/22 Catches/stumpings 17/- 23/- 149/- 42/- Source: CricketArchive, 6 April 2010
When Australian cricket was in the doldrums in the late 1980s "his dashing batsmanship and growing ability as a spin bowler suddenly elevated Matthews to a position of a national hero". He made centuries in times of crisis against New Zealand and India in 1985-86, took ten wickets in the Tied Test at Madras and batted well against England in 1986-87. Thereafter his career declined as the "effervesent and unorthodox" Matthews did not fit in with the rest of the Australian Test team. As Australia rose to dominance in the 1990s Matthews proved to be "not good enough in either of the game's main departments to make a lasting impact as a Test all-rounder" and despite a century against England in 1990-91 he played only irregularly and was finally dropped in 1993. He continued to play with success for New South Wales until he retired in 1997.
During his youth Matthews attended Ermington Public School and played for the Rydalmere Cricket Club, where he won the Under 11s Northern Districts Cricket Association Cricketer of the Year Award in 1970-71 and 1971-72. Prior to his cricket career taking off, Matthews played Colts (under 20's) Rugby for the Eastwood Rugby Club and was a pro for the Cumbrian side Whitehaven Cricket Club for three seasons, starring in the clubs 1981 league championship victory. At the conclusion of a successful season for Eastwood there was speculation that cricket may be put aside for Rugby, but he opted to play cricket.
Early Test Career
Matthews is a tough, useful, determined little cricketer; a steady, flat, off-spin bowler; a staunch, correct left-hand bat; and a brilliant fielder. He is also a cocky, slightly zany character.
Early in his cricketing career Matthews was regarded "as a bowler who fielded energetically and could bat a bit" and a "complete extrovert, dressing to shock". He was usually referred to a Greg, but his teammates nicknamed him 'Mo', "short for 'misère', which he always called when we played five hundred". Matthews enjoyed clubbing and ignored the midnight curfew imposed by New South Wales fast bowler Geoff Lawson as "these were his socialising hours and the time he came to life", and his mantra was "'live each day as if it's your last'". He was first picked for the Australia against Pakistan in the Fourth Test at Melbourne in 1983-84, taking 2/95 and 2/48, running out Zaheer Abbas in the first innings and bowling him in the second. With the bat he joined Graham Yallop (268) on 354/7 and together they added 185 runs for the eighth wicket. The Test was drawn and Matthews was kept for the Fifth Test and was Greg Chappell's batting partner when he was dismissed for 182 in his final Test innings. Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh also retired and the Australian Test team was further weakened by the Rebel Tour of South Africa in 1984-85. This provided opportunities for ambitious young players, but Matthews was initially unable to capitalise. He was taken on the unsuccessful tour of the West Indies in 1983-84, where he played in the Fifth Test and was a makeshift opener in the second innings as Steve Smith was injured. At home he played another one-off Test against the West Indies in the Fourth Test, dismissing Viv Richards (208) and Clive Lloyd (91) in his 2/67 in a draw that ended their 11 match winning streak. He was not one of the three spinners chosen for the Fifth Test on his home ground at Sydney where Australia won by an innings. Nevertheless he was taken to England England in 1985, where he proved popular in the county matches. In the One Day Internationals Matthews batting at number eight and hit the winning runs at Old Trafford (22 not out) and Lord's (29 not out) as Australia won the Texaco Trophy 2-1. in the Third Test at Trent Bridge he mixed with the crowd and read a newspaper in the stands; "Matthews of the petit-punk hair and puppet movements...has a happy knack of winding up crowds". In the Test series he only played in the Fourth Test because Graeme Wood was injured and again volunteered to open in the second innings, but also ran out Allan Lamb from extra cover. Matthews had now played in five Test matches, but had only made 139 runs (19.85) and taken 7 wikcets (45.28) and was far from establishing his place in the Australia team.
Australia vs New Zealand 1985-86
Greg Matthews joined me at the wicket to start an innings which was to 'make' him as a Test cricketer...I think we had all regarded him as a bowler who fielded energetically and could bat a bit. We'd misjudged him, and that century put the true all-rounder stamp on him.
The First Test against New Zealand at the Woolloongabba saw Australia lose their third Test in a row by an innings as Richard Hadlee took 15/123. Matthews was Australian's best bowler (3/110) and joined the Australian captain Allan Border at 67/5 in the second innings with 307 runs required to make the New Zealand bat again. He made his first Test century - 115 off 229 balls with 10 fours and a six - and most of the 197 runs added with Border (152), a record sixth wicket stand for Australia against New Zealand. This was backed up with 50 and 32 in the Second Test at Sydney, which Australia won by 4 wickets and he was second in the Australian series batting averages after the captain with 247 runs (41.16).
Australia vs India 1985-86
New Zealand was only the third country to beat Australia at home after England and the West Indies and India looked set to be come the fourth. They made scores of 520, 445, 59/2 and 600/4 in the Tests and Matthews suffered with the other Australian bowlers, taking only two wickets (118.00) in the series. In the Second Test at Melbourne he came in at 109/5 and made 100 not out adding 46 for the last wicket with his New South Wales team-mate Dave Gilbert (4) - who came in when Matthews was 59 - to hoist the Australian total up to 262. Lacklustre Indian batting and late rain saved the match after Allan Border (163) and Gilbert (10 not out) made a reargaurd action in the second innings. Though they outplayed Australia in all three Tests this was the nearest they came to winning a Test and the series.
Benson and Hedges World Series Cup 1985-86
After the two Test series there was a triangular World Series Cup One Day series between Australia, New Zealand and India, who were the current World Champions, and Australia and India made it into the best out of three finals. In the First WSC Final Matthews was run out for 7 in Australia's 170/8, but returned an econmonical 9-0-27-3 to bowl out India for 159 to win by 11 runs. In the Second WSC Final he took 10-0-37-2 to restrict India to 187 and saw Australia win the game by 7 wickets and the Finals 2-0 without the need for a third game. Matthews was voted Player of the Finals and it was a considerable boost to Australian confidence as the team completed a lap of honour round the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
New Zealand vs Australia 1985-86
I could never analyse why, right from the outset, sections of the New Zealand crowds had taken a set against Greg. Perhaps it was his juanty manner on the field. Perhaps he was a shade too successful for the liking of the more rabidly parochial Kiwi fans...You could never understand the mentality behind the crank phone calls Greg received in New Zealand, the egg-throwing and the incident in Wellington where a toilet seat was thrown on the field.
Australia toured New Zealand in 1985-65 and lost their second series against them in the same season despite several improvements. In the First Test Matthews (130) came in at 166/4 and added 213 for the fifth wicket with Greg Ritchie (92), a record for Australia vs New Zealand and Matthews' highest Test score. Rain ensured a draw in both the first two Tests and in the Second Matthews had the unusual bowling analysis of 3-3-0-1 when he caught and bowled Bruce Edgar in New Zealand's second innings of 16/1. Australia lost the Third Test when they collapsed to 103 in the second innings and lost by 8 wickets. Matthews had taken his then best Test bowling of 4/61, dismissing Bruce Edgar (24), Ken Rutherford (0) and Martin Crowe (0) with the score on 73. This gave him 8 wickets (29.50), his best series bowling so far, but he had taken only 23 wickets (43.69) in 14 Tests to add to his 725 runs (32.95). The Australian captain Allan Border threatened to resign if Australia did not win the four game One Day International and then saw New Zealand go 2-0 up. Fortunately Australia won the last two games and Matthews was Man of the Match in the Fourth ODI at Eden Park, where he made 54, took 9-1-33-3 and held onto three catches in Australia's 44 run win. This allowed Border to announce that the team had improved enough for him not to resign, much to the advantage of Australian cricket.
India vs Australia 1986-87 and The Second Tied Test
There were many heros throughout the exhausting five days of play, but with a doubt, the most unsung of them was Greg Matthews, who scored 44 and 27 not out and took five wickets in each innings. His stamina and resilience were absolutely staggering, especially on the last day, when he bowled 39.5 overs just about consecutively to keep us in the game and then ultimately tie it. Making his feat all the more noteworthy in the eyes of his fellow players was the fact that he wore two sleeveless sweaters throughout the day. Actually, he gave one to the umpire when he fielded and only wore them both when he was bowling. We just shook our heads in disbelief, because it was so hot with 90 degree humidity, but as usual Greg had a theory. He explained that nomadic herders in the desert wore woollen coats because they kept the cool air in, thus acting as a kind of air-conditioner.
Australia toured India at the start of the 1986-87 season and played the First Test at Madras, a huge concrete bowl which radiated the intense heat, which rose to 50°C with 90% humidity. Allan Border won the toss and Australia declared on 574/7 on the third day when Matthews was out for 44. In the Indian innings he took 5/103, his first five wicket haul in Test cricket, as his dismissed Sunil Gavaskar (caught and bowled), Krishnamachari Srikkanth, Ravi Shastri, Chandrakant Pandit and Kapil Dev as India were bowled out for 397. Declining to enforce the follow on in the heat Border batted again and Matthews made 27 not out in Australia's 170/5, which set India 348 runs to win on the last day. Matthews dismissed Srikkanth, Mohinder Amarnath and Pandit as India collapsed from 200/2 to 291/6. His 40th over was the last that could be played in the match, bowling to Ravi Shastri, with India's last man Maninder Singh at the bowler's end. India needed four runs to win from the 6-ball over with only one wicket remaining;
- 1st ball : To Shastri: no run. Four runs required off five balls.
- 2nd ball : Shastri took two runs, retaining the strike. Two runs required off four balls.
- 3rd ball : Shastri pushed the ball to square leg for a single. The scores are now tied, with one run required for victory, but the Indian 11th man was now on strike.
- 4th ball : To Singh: no run. One run required off two balls.
- 5th ball : The ball hit Singh on his back leg and umpire Vikram Raju gives him out leg before wicket after a loud appeal.
India were all out for 347, Matthews having taken 5/146 (10/249 in the match) and the match was the Second Tied Test in cricket history. It was the second and last time that he would take five wickets in a Test innings and the only time that he took ten wickets in a Test match. Dean Jones (210) was 'man of the match', but to applease local opinion so was Kapil Dev (119). Greg Matthews was later made 'all-rounder of the match'. The Second Test began with three days rain and Matthews did not bat or bowl. The Third Test was a draw, Matthews taking 4/158 to dismiss Gavaskar, Srikkanth, Amarnath and Mohammad Azharuddin in India's only innings. He took 14 wickets (29.07) and made 91 runs (45.50) in the series, his most successful with the ball.
Australia vs England 1986-87
When, at the start of the following season, Australia found themselves in trouble against England in the Brisbane Test, there was an extraordinary display of faith in his ability: up in the Press-box at The Gabba the assembed army of journalists, almost to a man, uttered statesments of relief when they saw Matthews emerging from the pavillion at number seven. He was the man to stop the rot they felt. He duly made fifty and by dogged batting and a good deal of talking managed to stave off a second defeat in the next game at Perth. But gradually his outer ebullience became crushed by inner doubts and by the end of the summer he was being viewed by some disillusioned scribes as just another player in a country which had temporarily lost its grip on international cricket
Matthews returned to Australia as with improved all-rounder credentials and the Test team's first choice spinner. Despite high hopes of regaining The Ashes against an England team that "can't bat, can't bowl and can't field" Australia found itself in trouble again. Allan Border won the toss at The Gabba and put England in to bat and watched them make 456. Greg Matthews was the most senior of bowlers, and had played as many Tests (17) as the others combined; Bruce Reid (8), Steve Waugh (8), Merv Hughes (1) and Chris Matthews (0). Still, he made a gritty 56 not out in the first innings, but Australia could not avoid the follow-on and lost by 7 wickets. In the Second Test at the WACA England made 592/7 declared and Matthews batted for 190 minutes for his 45 and 14 not out to see out the draw. The Third Test at Adelaide finally saw Australia on top, but Border declared their innings on 514/5 with Matthews on 73 not out and Waugh on 79 not out after complaining about their slow scoring rate. In any case England had no trouble drawing the match on a slow, flat wicket, though Matthews did bowl the England captain Mike Gatting for a first ball duck. The Fourth Test at Melbourne was a debacle as the Australian batsmen threw their wickets away to Ian Botham (5/41) and Gladstone Small (5/48) and losing inside three days. Although he had made 217 runs (53.75) Matthews had taken only two wickets (147.50) and could hardly justify his place in the bowling line up. With The Ashes out of reach the selectors dropped David Boon, Greg Matthews and Craig McDermott for the Fifth Test, which was won thanks to the debutant spinner Peter Taylor.
Out of the Test Team 1986-1990
He wasn't fitting in with the team. On many occasions he had breakfast alone, and he wasn't one to spend more time at a bar with the boys when there was a disco on hand. The "minor" things were causing a rift - his eating habits, his hair-style, his choice of clothes, or whatever, seemed to be an extra reason why he wasn't one of the boys.
- Rod Nicolson, Melbourne Herald
Matthews would remain out of favour with the Australian Test selectors for four years. Despite his 10 wicket hall in the Tied Test his bowling was not of Test standard and his batting average 36.82 was not enough to keep him in the team by itself when David Boon, Allan Border, Dean Jones and Steve Waugh were occupying the middle order. He did play One Day Internationals until the Sharjah Cup in 1986-87, where he had an off-field argument over a barbecued steak and was fined $1,000 by Ian McDonald and Bobby Simpson. Steve Waugh thought he "was being punished largely for previous infractions and perceived attitude problems...and straight away you could sense that a couple of guys felt their careers might be over". Bobby Simpson was Matthews' personal manager and the Australian coach and though he had been supportive in his early career, but now wanted a more disciplined team and Matthews did not fit in.
Australia vs England 1990-91
He was always excellent for the shock-value element, but also a guy who could play better than he probably ever realised and who record as an all-rounder for NSW is unrivalled.
Matthews continued to play well for New South Wales and was recalled for the First Test against England at Brisbane in 1990-91. Peter Taylor had not proved to be a long term success and Matthews was the only Australian spinner in the side, apart from Allan Border. He made 35 batting at number seven and took 1/30, but Australia won by eight wickets and he kept his place. He took 3/40 in the Second Test at Melbourne and 2/26 at in the Third Test at Sydney, where he also hit 128 with 17 boundaries to lift Australia from 292/5 to 512/9. In the Fourth Test at Adelaide he made 65 and 34 not out and 60 not out at Perth in the Fifth. Australia won the series 3-0 and Matthews made 353 runs (70.60), his best Test series with the bat, though he only took 7 wickets (60.28).
Later Test Career
Back in the team Matthews was selected for the tour of the West Indies on 1990-91, but did little and was dropped after the Second Test. Missing out on the 1991-92 home series he was picked again for the tour of Sri Lanka and here he did better. In the First Test at Colombo he was Man of the Match as he made 6 and 64, took 3/93 and 4/76 and caught Ranjith Madurasinghe off Shane Warne to give Australia a 16 run win. He followed this up with 55, 51, 57 and 96 to draw the two following Tests and Australia won the series. He was kept for the First Test against the West Indies at The Gabba in 1992-93, but again failed and was dropped. Recalled for the Third Test at Sydney he made 79, but was hit for 2/169 as Brian Lara made 277 in the tourists 606. With Shane Warne in the side Australia no longer needed Matthews as a spinner, he could not get a place on his batting alone and he never played for Australia again.
In September 1997 Matthews became the New South Wales representative of the Australian Cricketers' Association, which had been formed in August on the 1997 tour of England. Matthews currently plays in the Sydney Grade Cricket competition for the University of Sydney team and had a bowling average of 11.04 for the 2008 season. On 24 January 2009, he bowled Australia opener Phil Jaques for 5 with his first ball when Sydney University was playing Sutherland. In 2009 he co-hosted SBS televisions coverage of The Ashes series along side former Test players Stuart MacGill and Damien Martyn.
Greg Matthews was seen as a very saleable commodity in 1985-86. With the Australian cricket coach Bobby Simpson as his manager he soon became a wealthy man, endorsing a whole range or products, until he and Simpson fell out. He later set up cricket coaching clinics with Steve Waugh and Brad McNamara in 1991-92. However, the distraction of having agents and pushing products unsettled his career, and he was "not so good that he can succeed in high company with giving his game everything he has". Matthews was involved in a high-profile "yeah, yeah" promotion for a hair regrowth company, Advanced Hair Studio, as have cricketers Graham Gooch, Martin Crowe and Shane Warne.
- ^ a b p28, Garry Linnell, Benson and Hedges Tests Series Official Book 1986-87 The Clashes for the Ashes, Playbill Sport Publication, 1986
- ^ a b c d e p52, Christopher Martin-Jenkins, Cricket Characters, Stanley Paul and Co Ltd, 1987
- ^ Anna (class 4S), Ermington Public School History, Ermington Public School Website (accessed 19 June 2006)
- ^ Wrens History, Rydalmere Cricket Club (accessed 19 June 2006)
- ^ a b p176, Allan Border, An Autobiography, Meuthen Australia pty Ltd, 1986
- ^ a b p40, Steve Waugh, Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
- ^ p57, Steve Waugh Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
- ^ p57, Steve Waugh, Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
- ^ p61, Alan Ross, An Australian Summer, The Kingswood Press, 1985
- ^ pp32-33, Rod Nicolson, Benson and Hedges Tests Series Official Book 1986-87 The Clashes for the Ashes, Playbill Sport Publication, 1986
- ^ p113, Michael Milford, Daily Telegraph Cricket Year Book 86, Telegraph Publications, 1985
- ^ p57, Michael Milford, Daily Telegraph Cricket Year Book 87, Telegraph Publications, 1986
- ^ p82, Michael Melford, The Daily TelegraphCricket Year Book 87, Telegraph Publications, 1986
- ^ pp189-190, Allan Border, An Autobiography, Meuthen Australia Pty Ltd, 1986
- ^ p200, Allan Border, An Autobiography, Meuthen Australia Pty Ltd, 1986
- ^ pp196-198, Allan Border, An Autobiography, Meuthen Australia Pty Ltd, 1986
- ^ p201, Allan Border, An Autobiography, Meuthen Australia Pty Ltd, 1986
- ^ p105, Steve Waugh, Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
- ^ p104-105, Steve Waugh, Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
- ^ p107, Steve Waugh, Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
- ^ p51, Frances Edmonds, Cricket XXXX Cricket, The Kingswood Press, 1987
- ^ a b pp32, Rod Nicolson, Benson and Hedges Tests Series Official Book 1986-87 The Clashes for the Ashes, Playbill Sport Publication, 1986
- ^ pp123-124, Steve Waugh, Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
- ^ pp123-126, Steve Waugh, Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
- ^ p99, Steve Waugh, Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
- ^ p435, Steve Waugh, Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
- ^ p216, Steve Waugh, Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
- ^ p255, Steve Waugh, Out of My Comfort Zone, Michel Joseph, 2006
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