According to Ricky Ponting, few eat, breathe and sleep cricket like Melburnian Ken Piesse, author of almost 60 cricket books including this fun offering Favourite Cricket Yarns.
Ken has witnessed Test cricket from Bridgetown to Bellerive and Johannesburg to Cardiff.
During that infamous autumn-time series at Johannesburg, Barry Richards was guest of honour for Ken’s Australian Cricket Society tourists and spoke of his disappointment that the past achievements of South Africa’s finest, pre-1992, have been ignored.
‘We don’t even have Test numbers allocated,’ he said, ‘and for champions of the game like Graeme Pollock, that’s simply not fair.’
Asked by Ken what it was like batting with Pollock, the world’s finest batsman of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Richards grinned and said: ‘You always had to back up hard. He was always wanting to take a single off the last ball of an over and keep the strike!’
A keen club player, Ken tells the story of having 32 runs hit off one of his overs at Royal Ascot by Steve Waugh. ‘The first one only just cleared mid-on. The rest were hit out of the screws. It was like a tennis match: 646466.’
His most satisfying interview, among many, was with a 79-year-old Bill Ponsford, who said ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to Ken’s first six questions.
‘I’d heard Bill was shy and hadn’t given an interview for years. This one seemed over just as it was starting. I asked him: ‘Mr Ponsford, you have been one of Australia’s most outstanding cricketers. Looking around the room though, there is nothing here to show that. Where is all your memorabilia? Your stumps? Your blazers?’
There was a pause before the old recordbreaker answered: ‘Stumps,’ he said, ‘use ‘em as tomato stakes. And blazers? They’ve been keeping the pups warm for years!’
Everyone burst out laughing and 90 minutes later, ‘Ponny’ was chatting like the two were old friends.