On the 10th of April 2002, the Cricket Web staff member Corey Taylor
interviewed Greg Blewett and asked him a range of questions from his thoughts and feelings about his Sheffield Shield debut to his prospects of playing for Australia again. At all points through the interview he was lucid, very friendly, and gave detailed answers to my questions, which I'm sure have been asked of him many times. It was a very pleasant and relaxed interview and I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank Greg for sharing his valuable time and I hope we'll see him again in the 'baggy green' soon.
Thank you also to Nicci Sleep at SACA for all of her help in organising the interview
CW: Greg on His First Sheffield Shield Match:
GB: On the 1st of November, Greg played his first Sheffield Shield match for South Australia against Queensland in Brisbane. Matthew Hayden was picked for his first Sheffield Shield match as well and prospered with 149. Greg made 18.
"I wasn't really nervous at all. Just feeling pretty confident after some scores in grade cricket. So no, I wasn't nervous."
Although his start wasn't exactly what he was looking for, South Australia drew with Queensland and South Australia's new opening batsman's first innings for his state was a portent of things to come against Queensland later in the summer. Even though he made only 18, Greg said he felt quite confident at the crease and this was brought to bear later in the season with some greater results to underscore his obvious potential.
CW: Greg on South Australia's Record-Breaking Win Against Queensland in 1991-92:
GB: Later in that same season, Greg played an integral role in one of the largest 4th innings run chases in first-class and the highest 4th innings run chase to win in Sheffield Shield history. After dominating the match, Queensland set South Australia 506 to win. Before stumps on the 3rd day, Greg and Andrew Hilditch had advanced the score to 0/204, Greg on 97* and Hilditch on 93*. Greg was out the next day for 98, denying him his maiden Sheffield Shield century but South Australia went on to win the match.
"It felt pretty good to beat these guys especially because they had absolutely dominated the whole match. Plus, they had a very good side (the batting order was TJ Barsby, ML Hayden, DM Wellham, AR Border, SG Law, GM Ritchie, +IA Healy, PL Taylor, CJ McDermott, GJ Rowell, *CG Rackemann) so that made it especially sweet that we beat them. Of course, they were very disappointed when we saw them after the match. So yeah that was something pretty memorable about my first season of (Sheffield) Shield cricket."
CW: Greg on His First Test:
GB: "I've got some pretty good memories of that match because of it being my first Test, on my home ground and that I did well. We were in some trouble too so that makes it that much more memorable. I wasn't really nervous at all in this game either because I'd played for Australia A."
Greg made his debut against England in 1995 at Adelaide Oval. Australia were in some trouble as his innings progressed but he held the innings together, ending day 3 on *91. Wickets tumbled around him as he struggled to make the nine runs required before Australia were bowled out. He did so and became one of the few players to score a hundred on Test debut.
Greg came to prominence as a potential player of the future when he scored quite a few runs for Australia A (including a hundred in partnership with Michael Bevan).
"I always thought of myself as a batsman who helped out a bit with the ball but the selectors picked me as an allrounder to bat at 6, which surprised me a little, especially when I went from opening the batting to batting at 6 and brought on at first change."
He bowled fairly well in the one-dayers so this was another reason he was picked. He gained a lot of confidence in that game from his first innings which he carried onto his next Test and another hundred in Perth.
CW: Greg on His Participation in Australia's Record-Breaking Winning Streak
GB: Around three years ago, Australia started on a Test winning streak which resulted in a new world record of 16 Test wins in a row, starting in Zimbabwe in 1999 and ending in India in 2001. Greg Blewett was an important part of the team with contributions with the bat, in the field and with the ball.
One of Greg's memories of the time are that the team atmosphere was very different to previous teams he'd been in.
"Obviously we had a VERY good side and with Steve having been made captain, the focus was on making sure that we won all the Tests we played in. Under Mark Taylor, the focus was more on winning the series first and that was shown in that we tended to lose games at the end of series."
So with such a good side, Australia were able to win all Tests they played in 2000, Greg making valuable contributions as opening batsman partnering Michael Slater, the highlights being 89 in Brisbane against Pakistan and 82 in Adelaide against India.
When asked which of Australia's 16 Test wins against Zimbabwe, Pakistan, India, New Zealand, and the West Indies was his favourite, Greg had to think a little (I mean, what Test win ISN'T a great one?) but settled upon Australia's historic win in Hobart where, chasing 369 and after being 5/125, Australia won by 4 wickets, thanks to a 244 6th wicket partnership by Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist.
The wicket was an absolute road after being a little difficult on the first morning but Gilchrist and Langer batted very, very well, especially considering the side we were playing against (a bowling attack boasting Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Saqlain Mustaq, Shaoib Akhtar and Azhar Mahmood could never be considered anything but a quality bowling attack).
CW: Greg on South Australia's Sheffield Shield Win in 1995-96
GB: Greg was one of the stars in South Australia's first Sheffield Shield win since 1981 when they drew the 1995-96 final in Adelaide, but won by virtue of being the host of said final. Greg scored 72 runs in the second innings, stabilising a shaky start, before Brendon Julian trapped him LBW with an unplayable inswinging yorker. He was the 6th man out with a session still to go.
"I didn't give us much of a chance of surviving, especially since Jamie Siddons was injured, so I left the ground for a while. I don't like watching stuff like that."
He arrived back as South Australia's number 10 and 11 batsmen, Peter McIntyre and Shane George (".....of all people!"), managed to hold on for a draw against the odds for more than an hour against a strong Western Australian attack.
Greg found this 'win' particularly satisfying after the previous year, where South Australia were humbled by Queensland in Brisbane by an innings. Greg was away at the time, playing in his first tour for Australia of the West Indies, where he was a part of Australia's first series win against the West Indies for over twenty years.
"Yeah I was calling every day asking the guys how they were going and got the bad news most days. So it was good to win the Shield after a loss like that."
CW: Greg on Himself
Best Innings: 115 against England in Perth, 1995. "I felt the best in this innings because I had scored that hundred in my first Test and felt pretty awesome when I went out to bat. My confidence was pretty high." He scored 115 with 19 boundaries off only 158 balls, several of those boundaries from his lethal pull-shot, including that which brought up his hundred.
Best Bowler Faced: Curtly Ambrose. "Never gives you a bad ball."
Best Batsman Bowled To: Sachin Tendulkar. "By a long way"
Favourite Batting Position in Tests: "I had the most success batting at number 6 so I guess that's where I liked to bat the most."
Player To Watch: Paul Rofe. "He wasn't actually considered a starter for this year but with Blocker (Paul Wilson) being injured, we gave him a go." Paul Rofe ended the season 3rd on the wicket takers list with 41 wickets at 24.68 and impressed a lot of people along the way.
Fastest Ball: "I'm not sure of the speed but in the Adelaide Test in 1999, I was clocked as bowling faster than Glenn Mcrath during the match."
Has Darren Lehmann's Absence Affected the Way He Plays?: "No, not at all. Obviously there's more responsibility as captain and a senior player, especially when we were struggling a few years ago and I was expected to score the bulk of the runs. But, it doesn't really change the way I play at all."
Chances of Playing Again For Australia at Test Level: "I think there definitely a spot for someone playing as an allrounder. With Darren getting picked, it shows that the selectors are looking at guys with experience too and that your age isn't such a big deal anymore and that form is.
I haven't bowled much mainly because for the last season I had a back injury but now that I have a winter off, I'll be looking to bowl more and concentrate on getting back into the side in that way."