PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 10979


Photo of Howard, John

Howard, John

Period of Service: 11/03/1996 to 03/12/2007

More information about Howard, John on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 09/11/1998

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 10979


Well, thank you very much, Colin, to Mark and Judy, to Richie Benaud,

to John and Veronica Fordham, ladies and gentlemen.

This is not really a chore for me, can I say that it is a great pleasure.

There are many things that one is invited to in one's political

life that you perhaps wonder sometimes whether you're going to

enjoy the experience. But to be invited to be here today to share,

for a couple of minutes, my thoughts about a remarkable Australian,

a great Australian cricketer and a great Australian captain, is an

enormous privilege. And I want to thank the Sydney Daily Telegraph

for giving me the opportunity of doing so.

It is true that we had a very early start to Cabinet this morning

and it is true that a few people remarked on the brusque way in which

I despatched some of the business so that it would – but the

decisions were still very good – so that I could be here. And

when Richie Benaud got up to speak he put me in mind of another important

commitment of mine that I sort of longed to be over so I could get

out to watch an encounter in which he was involved. And I recall that

my very last law exam at Sydney University, I did on the morning of

the first day of, I think, the third Test between the West Indies

in Australia at the Sydney Cricket Ground. A match in which, I think,

Garfield Sobers scored a fine 168. And after the exam was over I raced

out to the Sydney Cricket Ground to watch the match. So my connection

with the game is spontaneous and genuine and absolutely devoted. I

frequently said that about the greatest office anybody can aspire

to is to be captain of the Australian Cricket Team. And there is a

special bond between a sports-loving Australian public and the captain

of the Australian Cricket Team. There's nothing quite like it.

It's a function of the fact that it is our national game and

it's a function of the fact that cricket and those who've

led Australia into battle on the cricket field have always occupied

a very special place in the hearts of Australians.

Mark Taylor's cricketing prowess is well known to a gathering

like this. It is extraordinary, it's exemplary and it ranks him

amongst the very greatest players that cricket has seen from any nation.

But I think there are two characteristics about him that have really

endeared him to the Australian public above and beyond his capacity

as a player. And the first of those is that he's a great fighter.

Everyone knows that he went through a valley of criticism and despair

at a time when people were being very critical of him but he never

lost his nerve. He never lost his calm. He never lost his resolve

and, very importantly, he never lost his civility and that is a great

tribute to him.

I can remember on the evening before the Adelaide Test at the beginning

of last year at a time when there was a lot of criticism of him. I

happened to be in Adelaide for a meeting and I then found that I was

able to go to the game later on. And I rang him to wish him well and

his response was that of a person who understood the criticism, was

determined to prove it wrong but wasn't complaining about some

of the unreasonable things that were being said about him. And I think

it was that characteristic and that quality that endeared him to millions

of Australian and world cricket lovers.

And I think the other quality which was really demonstrated on that

morning in Pakistan only a few weeks ago when he really did play out

the finest traditions of the game. And I had the opportunity of getting

through to him on the telephone at his hotel to congratulate him on

the tremendous score that he'd achieved and I asked him what

he thought he was going to do and he said he thought he'd pull

up the stumps. And, of course, he went on to do that. And he was putting

his team first but he was also honouring the traditions of the game.

And I think what Mark has done is to remind all of us and to remind

particularly the young lovers of cricket that of course we strive

to achieve, we strive to be the best, we strive to be the world record

holder but we also honour the best traditions of the game. And he's

taught us that there is nothing incompatible with personal achievement,

personal success, decent financial remuneration as a consequence of

that achievement and success but also honouring the great traditions

that are associated with wearing the finest head apparel in the world

and that is the baggy green of the Australian Cricket Team.

So, Mark, you have done us all proud. You've been a wonderful

cricketer. I hope you continue to give inspiration and leadership

to Australian cricket for many years into the future. As one of your

very constant supporters and fans over a long period of time it gives

me immense pride and satisfaction and pleasure to be here today. And

I know to cross all of the boundaries that might otherwise divide

Australians on other issues and say on behalf of all Australians how

much we admire and respect what you have done. Sport does dissolve

the barriers in Australian society, sport unites us all. Nothing quite

binds the Australian community together like the love of sport, the

love of a great Australian sportsman or woman and a great sporting

achievement, whatever the sport may be. And we've had those in

abundance. To have succeeded in Pakistan in both Test cricket and

one day cricket and to have seen this astonishing achievement of yours,

Mark, has really given us an absolute feast of cricket enjoyment and

cricket pleasure. So on behalf of, not just of myself and of my political

colleagues on both sides of the House, because there are cricket lovers

on both sides of politics as there naturally are throughout different

sections of the community, I say thank you for what you have done

for Australian cricket. Thank you for being such a fine Australian

Captain, of having honoured and kept and elevated the finest values

of the game and thank you, most importantly, for being a wonderful



Transcript 10979