Doug Walters AM: One of a kind
Kevin Doug Walters, one of Australia’s iconic and much-loved cricketers, has been awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for significant service to cricket at an elite level.
This adds to his MBE awarded in 1975, Centenary Medal in 2003, and an inductee into Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 1994.
The North Rocks local took the award with his customary humour, telling the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News: “I was very surprised as I thought I was over the age for these sorts of things!”
Doug, 76, is one of the finest – and most popular – cricketers produced by Australia, playing 74 Tests, having made his debut in 1965 Ashes series against England. He became the ninth Australian to score a century on debut, making 155 and was later compared to the great Sir Donald Bradman. He famously reached a century in a session against England by smacking Bob Willis for a six off the last ball of the day in the 1974/75 series.
Known for his larrikin ways, smoking and beers, Doug captivated millions of fans around the world with his breathtaking batting, amassing 5357 runs at an average of 48.26. He also took 49 Test wickets with his medium pace, and was known for his golden arm as he managed to break up big partnerships.
During his amazing first class career, Doug played 258 matches, scoring more than 16,000 runs at an average of 43.84.
He was also one of the most laid back but highly-gifted cricketers able to play at the highest level without losing his sense of timing and laconic humour.
“I don’t think I would have enjoyed night cricket because it would have cut into my drinking time!” Doug said with a laugh. Incidentally, Doug said he stopped smoking – he was said to have more than 50 cigarettes a day – 13 years ago, using laser treatment.
Reflecting back at a glittering career which included 28 one-day internationals (ODIs), Doug said he had been playing cricket ever since he was old enough to lift a bat.
“My parents (Ted and May), my brothers Warren, Terry and sister Colleen all loved sports,” Doug said. “If I had not played cricket as a career, I really don’t know what I would have done or played.” (Sadly, Warren passed away a few days ago while Terry died in an accident earlier).
Doug was a loyal stalwart of Parramatta DCC, playing 17 seasons starting from 1963, and has a pavilion named after him. Sydney Cricket Ground also honoured him with a stand, later demolished. He even has a bar named after him in the Victor Trumper Stand.
Doug said that legendary Australian paceman Jeff Thompson was the quickest he has seen to this day. “Yes, Jeff was the fastest I have faced,” Doug said. “Sir Gary Sobers was the best batsman I have seen, and like all great batsmen including Viv Richards, he made good bowlers seem ordinary. Sobers was very gifted and the best all-rounder. He was the best cricketer, full stop.”
Reminded that he was also considered a part of the cricketing elite, Doug laughed: “I am way down that list! I had my days but they (Sobers, Richards) had more days than me!)
Doug underwent National Services Training from 1966-67 but said it never affected his cricketing career. “Not really, as I had my best ever series soon after I came back, against the West Indies in 1968,” he said. In that 1968/69 series, Doug plundered 699 runs from four Tests (he missed the opening game due to an injury), becoming the first in history to score a century and a double century in one Test.
A life member of Cricket NSW and Parramatta DCC, where he is one of their most famous and much-loved members, Doug said good players always adapt to different formats, saying David Warner is a great example.
“Warner started as a slogger in T20s, then moved to ODIs before playing Test cricket, quite the reverse to other players,” Doug explained.
When asked if he would consider being a national selector, Doug chuckled: “I have never wanted to be a selector or an umpire!”
Doug, who is married to Caroline, has four children, Brynley, Lynton, Hannah and Mitchell, and is delighted, “they are all very keen on sports”. “My daughter still plays soccer. However, Mitchell, who was the most talented cricketer out of the lot, wasted his talents,” he said.
Doug keeps fit by playing golf and has written two books, One for the Road, and The Entertainers with fellow Australian cricket star Mark Waugh. – LAWRENCE MACHADO
This article was published in the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News (https://hillstohawkesbury.com.au/doug-walters-am/)