Today’s podcast is a little different. Unfortunately prior to recording my head set actually broke which meant I had to record into a computer speaker. Instead of having you listen to a standard of sound which is below Talking with TK Podcast standard I have transcribed the entire episode as there is some great stories and takeaways for you to consume.
Growing up Michael Bevan was one of my favourite athletes. He was a little bit different with his speed between the wicket which was so noticeable and really started a trend of cricketers actually being respected for a combination of their athletic and cricket ability.
Bevo was just the ultimate professional and given his ability to close games and step up to save his country in disaster, gives Michael the credentials to go down as one of Australia’s greats of one day cricket.
For all the highlights in one day form he also had his own struggles in test cricket with the bat. However as you will find out it was like a blessing in disguise to help him grow not just in cricket but more importantly life.
Two moments that really stand out in my memories are the four off the last ball to win the game against the West Indies at the SCG and his 6 wicket hall with his China men spin again against the West Indies in Adelaide. Some wonderful moments and memories for Michael to cherish.
Please find the entire transcript below. If you want the original chat released please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THE INTERVIEW
TK – Back in the day you were one of my idols, I used to have the one day number 12 jersey. To start you’re considered one of the greats of Australian One Day cricket but you didn’t play twenty twenty. For a purest like yourself what do you make of a game like twenty twenty?
MB – I actually quite enjoy it. I only played 3 matches at the back end of my career, obviously not for Australia but for the state so I had limited exposure and experience playing it. Subsequently I did manage to coach it in a couple of competitions as head coach. I think it’s an exciting format and bringing a new demographic to the game of cricket, which is pretty positive and it’s great to watch & only goes for a couple of hours like other sports. There is a lot of upside with the only issue is how it is managed by the relevant governing body and how they fit it in the scheduling and how much they play. As a general rule, I’m a big fan of it, it bring's a lot to the game of cricket.
TK – When you were playing you were either a 4 or 5. If you were to throw yourself into the game today what would be the biggest adjustment you would have to make to your style and where would be your preference to bat in the order?
MB – I think I would have had to have worked really hard to be a good T20 player. One of the reasons is I spent most of my career scoring at a strike rate of between 75 and 80. And I think the format lends itself to suggest you need to strike at between 100 and 120 probably more. For me to do that I would have had to have let go of my risk adverse nature and let it go a little bit more and start playing shots earlier which wouldn’t of been natural for me. I think it might have been a tough transition but like anyone with a little talent & a little hard work I would probably graft and have enough shots in my game.
TK – You spoke about being risk adverse, when it came to batting in first class or a one day game take us through your mindset when you got to the crease what did Michael Bevan do to get yourself into the game?
MB – It really depends whether we were batting first or bowling first. I would like to think one of my strengths was my ability to rotate. I guess I felt comfortable doing that. But every situation, every set of bowlers, every different wicket has its challenges. One of my focuses was to really adapt to certain circumstances and follow the right game plan for whatever circumstance I was facing. I know it’s a little general but I did try to work out where my singles where going from based on field placing and then for every bowler I would have a four shot and then when the ball was pitched in that area I would go for it. Otherwise it was about rotating during the middle overs.
TK – Did you do much prep work into the bowlers, where you thought they may bowl and your expectations of each one?
MB – No not really because it’s a pretty fluid thing because the match situation changes. You could be batting first or you could come in with 5 or 10 over left. When you were chasing the setting is pretty much set for you if you have lost a certain amount of wickets or the bowlers have bowled a certain amount of overs. So it’s pretty much set but as fielders change positions you have to work out what shot you need or where my next run is coming from & how much I need to push it. So there is a few calculations on how you need to play but most of it is based around what you do well and that doesn’t change from scoring boundaries to rotating strike that’s not going to change. What is going to change is field positions and the type of bowler. So you just got to choose out of all the shots you play well what is the right one in the situation.
TK- Take me back to the start because I only recently realized you were from Canberra. Can you tell us a little bit about Canberra and how you found the game of cricket?
MB – I’m Canberra born and bred. It’s obviously a not huge mecca for cricket we only have a first class team. No one from Canberra had played professional cricket or played for Australia. Me personally I loved the sport and I was good at the sport and it was a natural thing for me to be a sport person in my life. My sports were athletics, cricket, soccer they were the things I loved but I decided to focus on cricket at the age of 16. I went to all the under 16, 17 and 19 carnivals where the ACT under age team got to play some of the best states and cricketers in Australia and that’s where I initially made my mark and decided if I did want to get noticed I would have to play well in those carnivals and I managed to go from the Australian Under 19’s championships to get selected to the cricket academy in Adelaide and that’s where I made the transition from a Canberra "want to be" to a young cricketer who was ear marked as a potential state or national player.
TK – I’m really intrigued about the athletics because you’re the fastest player I’ve seen between the wickets. What was your go when you were doing little A’s?
MB – I never really did the little athletics. I just did school sports and went to a number of National Championships up to the age of 15. I did well in under 12’s and competed in the 100, 200 and long jump and high jump. At one stage I came third in the final of the 100 under age so clearly I was fast enough to do ok Australia wide. One of the things with athletics and I don’t know if any other sports men or budding sprinter found this but around the age of 15 everyone seems to sprout out and I can recall competing in the under 15’s long jump against someone with facial hair. It was about that time that I started questioning whether it was the best option for me. But I loved it and was well into it till the age of 15.
TK – Michael you spoke about those junior rep teams, who did you play with and against who also made it to State or National level?
MB – With Canberra I always felt we had a pretty good team. We had a guy, I’m trying to think of his name who played a little bit of first class cricket. A guy from NSW called Martin Haywood came through my age group. I competed with and against a lot of guys who played for Australia most notably in the Australian under 19’s with Brendan Julian and Michael Slater. They were all in my round of cricket academy which was the second intake. So we had around three or four reach international level and another four or five at first class.
TK – Michael was the goal always to be a professional cricketer?
MB – It was and I guess it can be different from other people. Not everyone has the mindset or the focus or the objective to want to play for Australia. So it has its good and bad points. I wasn’t overly academic, sport was my passion and what I was good at. So I didn’t have too many other options but decided pretty early on I wanted to make cricket my thing. I presented myself with intense focus and determination but the flip side I probably put a bit of pressure on myself as well for me to achieve all my goals. It had some good and bad things with my approach and with my desire to play for Australia.
TK – For everything you achieved at NSW people may think you only played at NSW but you went to South Australia first how did that come about?
MB – As I mentioned I was picked for the cricket academy which was based in Adelaide and most of the Australian under 19’s went to the cricket academy. Given I had only played grade for ACT I had played a number of matches for grade cricket in Adelaide and was fortunate enough to do well and get picked for South Australia. That was my first opportunity at first class level and had it not been for a waiver we signed for the stint at the Academy I probably would of stayed in South Australia. As a Canberra born and ACT player, NSW was pretty keen for me to come back and play with them. I think I played 6 matches for South Australia and really enjoyed my time.
TK – Do you remember your first class debut?
MB – Very much so it was a culmination of me transitioning from a young Canberra player to my first outing as a professional player and first class match against some of my heroes. It happened to be at the WACA which had a reputation for being extremely quick wicket which is unique and presented its own challenges from a batting perception but certainly an experience I’ll remember forever.
TK – You spoke about moving to NSW and you move to a team stacked with internationals with Mark Taylor, the Waugh boys, Greg Matthews then up and coming players like yourself, Michael Slater and Glenn McGrath. How was it moving to a big city like Sydney and playing and in such a star studded lineup?
MB – I had a bit of trepid avid about to begin with as I had to reinsert myself as a batsman and I had pretty much secured a spot with South Australia. As you mentioned I played with all these legends then add players like Brad McNamara, Trevor Bayliss, Mark O’Neill who really good first class players. So I had to get through a bit just to get to play first class cricket. It was something I really probably didn’t want to do but once I did do it I really knuckled down. In hindsight playing for NSW was a great experience and so good for my career. It was such a different mindset than playing for South Australia in terms of size and amount of success both states had. It was like going from a small pond to a big pond and a great experience because of the culture and I’m very grateful for making the transition and being part of such a successful side.
TK – When you first came into the team where did you bat and did anyone take you under their wing?
MB – It was a very close knit unit when I played for NSW and I was fortunate to have all these legendary players and they thought it was part of their roles. And don’t get me wrong it was never easy at that point of time in the 90’s. It was very old school and when you didn’t get something right most of your team mates would let you know about it. I think the flip side the senior players who played for NSW and Australia embraced me as a Baggy Blue and helped me understand what it meant to play for NSW and what standard where expected with performance. So the short answer is everyone and the sign of a good team is that most senior players and players take the time out to give you a fair amount of support.
TK – Michael you have an outstanding first class average it’s 57.32 in the form of the game what do you put your success down to?
MB - It was initially in the first phase of my career where I was a very hard worker, very determined which in conjunction with the talent I was given led to good results. The first part of my career came from those two factors when I look back now I also had a lot of fluctuating performances also. At the start of my career I had a lot of high moments and lot of low moments and so I think half way through my career I averaged around 50 then worked on other aspects of my game and improved in my consistency half way through. I think my average was 65 or 70 at the back end of my career which helped me improve my average. Generally speaking as a cricketer hard work and determination helped me get to a pretty good degree of success.
TK – 1994 was a huge year for you, you made your test debut against Pakistan and your one day debut against Sri Lanka take me how you get the call up and some insights into those debuts?
MB – I guess when I got selected it was on the back of a pretty good season. I had an extremely strong start to my first class career. I had a pretty lean 90/91 season and got dropped then came back a more consistent player off the back of a year and a half of good performances and that came about I’m pretty sure when Alan Border retired. They picked two or three guys like Stuart Law and myself to tour and it was pretty much between us to fill his role. We had a short one day tour to Sharjah followed by the tour of Pakistan. I think it came to those preliminary performances and I got the nod ahead of those guys. I got to play with my heroes who I watched on TV and then I got to play against Pakistan who had one of the best bowling attacks at that time with Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Mustaq Ahmed. My first tour to the sub-continent was both eye opening and challenging, an interesting all round great experience.
TK – You mentioned some legends there, now you're retired is there anyone you feared going up against?
MB – This question you get a lot as a cricketer and batsman and I never know how to answer it but I do and I give the same answer over again. The times I found I was in form there wasn’t too many bowlers that were hard work. You find your grove against some of the best in World like the West Indies and Pakistan then I went up against England in the Ashes and at the time you wouldn’t say there attack was as good as the West Indies or Pakistan but I performed really poorly in those series. I suppose it depends whether you in or out of form. For me playing a lot of my cricket in the one dayers the scoring rate was important. The one’s I found hard to score was the off spinners like Saqlain Mustaq and Muralitharan. Those were the guys who gave me trouble with the off spinners firing into my pads.
TK – You were a part time with your China man and I heard Adam Gilchrist say you’re the hardest person to pick and Mark Taylor tell me about your bowling?
MB – From my bowling perspective I did quite well against batters who couldn’t pick my wrong’un and I bowled quite quickly so I guess it was harder to see out of the wrist. I had some great results against the West Indies because they couldn’t pick the wrong’un except Brian Lara so he was really tough to bowl to. The other series I featured against the South Africa I also did well as they couldn’t pick the wrong’un either. I wasn’t the most accurate bowler so pretty much relied on deception and just putting a few doubts in the batters mind.
TK – What was your reaction when Tubby Taylor and the selectors said they wanted to make you the second spinner in an attack led by Shane Warne?
MB – I must admit I was a bit uncomfortable with it. It first happened in South Africa and we played on a green top. I was the fourth bowler and I didn’t even know where I was going to land the ball. So having a full time role was a bit scary. I did do well on occasions and went to England and went with a bowling focus. I was a little more uncomfortable then I should have been and it wasn’t a huge focus for me I didn’t really want to be known as a bowling all-rounder. It was something that was good and gave me an opportunity to be more part of the game. I did well at times and not so well at other times.
TK – How much practice did you do with your bowling?
MB – Quite a lot really you’re always going to I think because of the amount of practice and training you do. There is always the opportunity to be practicing in the nets and that’s how most part-timers start and get going and that kind of worked for me.
TK – I’m sure you have been asked this many times but the audience will kill me if I don’t. The New Year’s Day chase where you hit the four on the last ball to win the game. Take me through the last three balls. Glenn McGrath hits a single to give you strike so take me through what’s going through you head on the second last ball?
MB – It is a question I get asked a lot but I don’t mind as it was what I was known for and something positive in my life. My approach to one day cricket has always been there always been an elements of three meditation’s and three determinations. I say look this is where the bowler is going to bowl and the shot I want to play and it was not different in this. With facing Roger Harper and needing 4 off the last 2 balls. The process I go through is where do I think he is going to bowl the ball? Where is the field? I thought he would fire up the middle. So then I went through the field and looked where the opportunities and gaps are. I looked at mid-wicket, cover and straight. Then I look at pitch conditions is it holding up? turning? then I work out what shot I feel comfortable hitting. After all that I decided I wanted to hit the ball straight and saw the opportunity. With two balls left he bowled the ball perfectly right in the block hole middle stump yorker length there wasn’t much I could do. Then I went through the process again and begun to doubt myself, do I have the right shot? You begin to question yourself and analyse again. For me I thought that was still my best shot and if he gets it right and bowls another yorker we are probably going to lose the match and if he doesn’t I’m a chance. And that’s what happened he dragged it slightly lower and I got under it, gave myself some room and punched it back and I wanted it straight near the umpire’s head and made good connection. For me it was definitely a moment I was known for.
TK – Be honest Michael with Glenn McGrath on strike with three balls to go did you think you were going to get the opportunity?
MB – Well Glenn’s not the best batsman we all know that and you know when he walks to crease you don’t have a huge amount of faith and it happens with most tail enders you try to work out how you can get to the other end. I did have concerns but there’s not much you can do. There’s times where someone’s forte isn’t their batting but they might get one away. It was out of my hands I was at the other end so I was hoping and praying and fingers crossed. And he got something on it and managed to get an inside edge and it bounced away. I think the same thing happened with Shane Warne previously there was a run out. You just got to change strike and get where you need to be to take control and get the runs needed.
TK – Michael was there a coach in your career that maybe didn’t make you a better player but made you a better person such as taught you about life, did you come across someone like that?
MB – I had some very good coaches and some average coaches. I think it was all the sphere of cricket though and what you need to do to achieve your goals. The problem with that a lot of your performances come down to the type of person you are, how you overcome adversity and your mindset. The person has a big influence on how successful you’re going to be for me I didn’t learn a lot about myself at the start but at the end I did and that helped. That light bulb moment that comes to different people at different times for different reasons. But for me there was probably a lot of coaches and players telling me what to do to improve. Sometimes you listen and sometimes you don’t but the biggest light bulb moment came half way through my career. On self-reflection on being dropped for a second time from the test team I learnt the most about myself and my game. Then I had pretty good success after that.
TK – You speak about getting dropped for the second time and the reflection can you give us insights into what you went to too get out of that?
MB – It was the second time half way through an Ashes tour and I got out to a short ball again which I got dropped for in 1994 after doing years and years of work from a technical aspect. Basically after getting dropped I realized I would never get a chance again and my dream of playing for Australia evaporated and I had to do a whole lot of soul searching. It finally came up that rather than my game and talent it was me and my approach. I was probably more pessimistic and worried what people thought of me. All the personal things to do with myself. It’s the acknowledgement that it’s more about me than my game. I spent the rest of my career working on me instead of my game and got some good results out of it. It was hard but it meant I had a good hard long look at myself and improved as a player and person and that’s something I really look on fond of even though at the time it wasn’t the greatest thing that happened to me.
TK – A couple of personality questions to wrap things up. Why did you wear the number 12?
MB – I think at the time that was all that was left. I didn’t have too many options I was on the fringe at that stage and all the better players got the numbers under 11 and I came in as number 12 and Warnie went to 23 straight up.
TK – Final question what was your favorite venue to play at both here in Australia and when you played overseas?
MB – Look I played a lot of my career at the SCG for both NSW and Australia and that was a great batting ground. It was comfortable for me to play at but was a great stadium to play at, it had great style and big enough to have a huge presence but small enough to pack it out. So I always loved playing at the SCG. Adelaide for different reasons it was so picturesque and a great batting ground. Playing in Cape Town with the Table Tops and playing at Lords and Mumbai which must have been like performing in the Colosseum. It was full of 40,000 cricket crazed fans, it was noisy you couldn’t hear yourself they were so close to the boundary. There was lots of grounds I remember fondly but in Australia it was SCG and Adelaide.
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