This week 40 years ago international cricket came to Griffith.
Hanwood’s Peter Keenan captained a Riverina team called Southern NSW against Sunil Gavaskar’s India at Exies Oval on November 18 1977.
“It was a fantastic honour, and an amazing time for me. The week before the match, my wife gave birth to my first child, Angela,” Mr Keenan said.
Mr Keenan recalled the cultural differences between the two teams.
“The night before the game at the Exies, my teammates and I were all drinking beer while the Indians were drinking lemon squash”.
“The Indian team had some of the best spinners in the world. Not that I got to face them. I was bowled by (seam bowler) Madan Lal for 1”.
The Indians won the match comfortably.
Also representing Southern that day was Griffith’s Bruce Black, while Pat Cudmore was umpire.
“The Cudmores were a great cricketing family”.
Mr Keenan was a stylish 28-year-old No.4 batsman who would go on to play for another 20 years. He also became a Griffith City Councillor, and has recently moved to Sydney to be close to his grandchildren.
Hanwood teammate Roy Binks said, “Peter was the sort of bloke who got better with age”.
Mr Binks himself made the back page that month, starring with bat and ball to take eight wickets and score 61 not out in a big win for Hanwood over Area.
“I wasn’t as stylish as Peter. I batted like an accountant, I was quite stodgy,” he said.
Mr Binks also recalled the England and Pakistan team playing on the Exies Oval.
“I remember Fred Trueman and Ted Dexter coming to Griffith in the 1960s. I didn’t have a TV back then, the first time I saw Fred was in the flesh,” he said.
“It was a credit to the Ex-Serviceman’s club that their ground was deemed good enough to host international cricket … it was the best ground I ever played on in Southern NSW,” Mr Keenan said.
Mr Binks said in those days, cricket tours were much longer, so international teams had time to visit country towns.
“These days, the farthest they get away from the big cities is Newcastle,” Mr Keenan said.
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