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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 10189

TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP OFFICIAL OPENING OF AUSTRALIAN CRICKET HALL OF FAME MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND

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: 06/12/1996

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 10189

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PRIME MINISTER1
6 December 1996 TRANSCRIPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER
THE HON JOHN HOWARD MP
OFFICIAL OPENING OF AUSTRALIAN CRICKET HALL OF FAME
MELBOURNE CRICKET GROUND
E& OE
Thank you very much Tony; to Dr Lill; to Dennis Lillee and Keith Miller; to the
other family members of the other, the other eight members of this unique band of
crioketing brothers; to Tom Reynolds, the Victorian Minister for Sport. And I
acknowledge the presence of three formier Victorian Premiers: Dick Harrer,
Lindsay Thompson and John Cain.
Earlier today I inspected the restorations of St Patrick's Cathedral and I said to the
Archbishop as I was leaving I was going to one of the spiritual centres of
Melbourne, to the true temporal shrine and sporting shrine, not only of Melbourne
but also of Australia.
I think without any doubt the Melbourne Cricket Ground is the greatest sporting
arena in our nation and I think probably without comparison anywhere in the
world. And it's a special privilege for me to be here today. Being Prime Minister
has its ups and downs. Could I say this is really an up. To be here, to be invited to
say a few words, to open this Hall of Fame is for me about the greatest of pleasure
and privilege that I could possibly have.
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I am a self-confessed cricket lover. Like so many people of my age, I started at
a time when following cricket, at a time when cricket books weren't quite as
prolific as they are now, and two that I read and read again and thumbed
through repeatedly was that wonderful book written by Johnnie Moyes in the
early 1950s called " A Century of Cricketers", which not only traced the story
of many famous Australian cricketers but also English and a few West Indian,
South African and Indian cricketers as well,
Arnd I was reflecting as I watched those names go up that there's only one of
them, and that's the last one, Dennis Lillee, that was not in that book, and the
other one that influenced in a Journalistic way my love and knowledge of
cricket was one that was jointly authored by Keith Miller and RS. Whidttington
called " Straight Hit" which was essentially about the 1951-52 West Indian tour
of Australia. I have seen four of them of those ten play. I saw Don Bradman
play but once at the Kippax-Oldfield testimonial at the Sydney Cricket Ground
in 194.9. It was his last appearance at the Sydney Cricket Ground, At the age
of 10 1 was taken there by my father on the Sydney Cricket Gifound hill.
I really saw a great deal as a young boy, a great deal of Keith and Ray and I
suppose if I had as a boy growing up following the game if I had two heroes
it was them because their menacing combination, and I don't think there's
anybody in the game we've seen who could turn it around so quickly as Keith
in his capacity to take that sensational catch, that brilliant piecc of fielding, that
marvellous burst of speed and Ray of course was the consummate artisan when
it came that rhythmic approach to the wicket I've never seen anything like it
and it really was for me a tremendous excitement to watch them play in the
early 1950s. Dennis' contribution to cricket in a subsequent generation has
been absolutely massive and he and his colleagues of that era brought new
generations of lovers and followers of the game.
I wouldn't have en vied the challenge of those who had to choose these ten
players. It would have been a formidable task and can I say that I don't think
anybody could argue for a moment with any of the selections that they have
made. -But cricket is a magnificent game. It's more than that. It's a way of life
to manly ofus it is another religion. I don't know a game which keeps people
together in a fraternity quite like cricket does. I watch cricketers of different
generations, and the capacity to, because of you common love of the game, the
capacity to spend time talking to each other. I never saw Bill O'Reilly play but
I did have the privilege of meeting Bill on a number of occasions when we
were watching matches at the cricket ground and the way ixx which the
difference i age and generations and backgrounds were just instantly dissolved
by a common love of the game. 2
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I think Australia's sporting achievements are something of which all of us are
incredibly proud. As cricket lovers and cricket followers today, the
contribution that these ten magnificent players and their fellow players of their
respective eras have made to enriching the lives and bringing happiness and
pleasure to so many millions of Australians can never be properly described.
And can I say to all of those who are here today, in the case of Keith and
Dennis as recipients of this rare honour and in relation to the others as close
relatives of the other eight men that have been inducted, can I say on behalf of
a very grateful Australian nation, thank you for what you have done for a
magnificent game. Thank you for what you have done to promote the best
traditions of Australian sportsmanship, and thank you for the joy and pleasure
that you and yours have brought over more than a century to millions of
Australians and to millions of people around the world who love the game of
cricket. Can I say again what a tremendous privilege it is to be here today to honour
this great game and to honour these ten great men, and I have very great
pleasure in declaring the cricketing hall of fame open.
ends 3
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Transcript 10189