Winner of countless English one-day trophies and veteran of 73 ODIs, Australia’s slower-ball maestro Ian Harvey talks Ed Kemp through a remarkable career.
DITCHING THE GLOVES
I had been a wicketkeeper when I was 19 but got picked for my club’s first team, at Waverley-Dandenong in Melbourne, as a batsman because there was another keeper. In Australian club cricket you spent 100 overs in the field at a time and that’s not for me – I don’t know how the out-and-out batters do it. I said to the captain: ‘You’ve got to give me a bowl because I’m getting bored out of my brain out here.’ Eventually I convinced him and it went from there.
My first one-day game for Victoria. I only bowled about seven overs and it didn’t go that well – Stuart Law made a big hundred and they won. They had a very good team including Allan Border, the Australian captain. Dean Jones was our captain and he took me in to the Queensland dressing room for a couple of beers. There were two seats available: one was next to Border and one was next to Stewie Law. I sat there listening to the guys telling stories and talking about the game and then I got brought into the conversation and got chatting to Border. He said when you’re bowling on first-class wickets you need to have a decent change of pace if the ball’s not moving around. At the end of that season I got selected to go to the Australian academy with Rod Marsh and spent six months working really hard on different changes of pace. I knew that if I wanted to play at that level for a long period of time and be fairly successful I had to do something different.
I had been very inconsistent and was in and out of the Victoria team. It was mainly my bowling getting me into the team but I still had to be good enough to bat at No.6. I was really struggling, worrying about my spot and not playing naturally. I got a slow 6 in the first innings: Dean Jones grabbed me at the end of play and said: ‘Look, you’ll be playing the next three games, no matter what happens. If you make three noughts or whatever, you’re going to be playing. ’In the second innings I got a fifty, then I got 85 next game and in the game after I got a hundred. Dean did tell me later that if I didn’t get runs in the second innings at Perth I was dropped! But he was just trying to put my mind at ease because he could see I wasn’t playing the way that I was picked to play.
A NERVY START
My ODI debut was quite nerve-wracking. I was standing at the top of my mark, full house, Jonty Rhodes at the other end and Steve Waugh, standing next to me, said: ‘Right, what sort of field do you want?’ and I said: ‘Mate, I’ve got 30-odd-thousand here watching, I’ve never played in front of a crowd like this before in my life, I’m shaking, I’ll be lucky to hit the cut stuff at the other end and you want me to set my own field?’ He ended up saying: ‘Well, what are you going to try and bowl?’ I said, ‘If I can hit the top of off stump first ball I’ll be happy’. He said: ‘OK, you do that, I’ll set the field.’ Second ball I tried doing it again but ended up bowling a perfect yorker to Jonty and bowled him! I was a bit more relaxed after that.
FILLING COURTNEY’S SHOES
I missed out to Tom Moody on the World Cup squad, which was frustrating but very much understandable. As a result I got offered an opportunity to come and play in Bristol. Having had Courtney Walsh for 11 seasons, to then have someone like Ian Harvey turn up, people were asking: ‘Who’s that?’ which to be honest was fair enough. I was never going to be able to fill Courtney’s boots but I just had to do what I could do to the best of my ability and from my point of view and the club’s point of view it went really well. We won two one-day trophies that year and it was the start of something special [six one-day trophies while Harvey was there]. We had a great changing room brilliantly led by Mark Alleyne, a team who all knew their roles and the best fielding side in the country.
THE PERFECT FINAL
Of all the finals that we won in this period this is the one that sticks out. Matty Maynard was outstanding that day and made a brilliant hundred, but by bowling smart, getting him off strike and attacking at the other end we were able to bowl them out for an easily chaseable total. Every bowler had a job to do and all executed their plans outstandingly well. At that stage we had such belief that no matter the situation we just believed that we were going to win, and when you have that belief, more often than not you’ll win the game.
SURPRISE WORLD CUP WINNER
I wasn’t picked in the final squad, they went with Shane Watson, which was fair enough – he was always going to replace me long term. But about a month before they left he got stress fractures in his back again so I got the call. We went through undefeated and won the World Cup! I played six games – more than I thought I would. The night before our first game, Warnie came out with the news that he was heading home because of the banned substance he had taken and then we went out and played Pakistan in the first game; we were in a bit of trouble early and Andrew Symonds played one of the best one-day innings I’ve witnessed and it just went from there. We had a couple of players out so I got the opportunity and did okay. It was disappointing not to play in the final but I always knew Damien Martyn would be coming back from injury and from my point of view I was lucky to be there – to play a very small part in that squad winning the World Cup was fantastic. It doesn’t come much better than that.
THE BIG OCCASION
There’s no greater feeling than having a part to play in your team winning a Lord’s final: to do it on that stage in front of a big crowd and on TV, that’s why you play the game. Then to top it all off you walk off the pitch and see all your supporters who have followed you all year; they’ve come down to Lord’s and you walk off with the trophy and you’ve performed well and they’re so happy for you, it just makes it all worthwhile. You’ve got to soak up those big occasions.