Room-mates from heaven and hell
Back in the dark ages when Australia's best cricketers were actually made to share sleeping quarters, rooming on tour was a tender balance between matching individual traits and ensuring the best preparation for both players. Just as runs or wickets could make or break a tour, so could having the right or wrong room-mate.
1. Geoff Marsh - Mr. Nudist
A long-time room-mate of David Boon, Swampy lived and breathed cricket, mostly batting, as anyone who saw his bowling action would testify. He was so passionate that Boonie was often woken early in the morning to the site of Swampy - in his birthday suit - practising forward defences in front of the mirror! Never great at amusing himself, he would get annoyed if Boonie was reading a novel and not talking to him. On one occasion Boonie left the room, only to return to find his novel ripped to shreds by a smiling Swampy.
2. Justin Langer - Mr. Sleepwalker
JL is known as a bit of a sleepwalker and also talks in his sleep. This alone might not seem like such a big problem, however Alfie is a black belt in martial arts, which adds some intrigue when you are woken by him screaming obscenities as he walks towards you throwing his kicks and punches. One of the major factors in the push for single rooms, not so much for solitude but for self-preservation.
3. Steve Waugh - Mr. Messy
There is an old TV sitcom called The Odd Couple about Felix too neat, and Oscar too messy. When I roomed with Steve it was two Oscars and that meant trouble. I roomed with him once in Brisbane before the first Test against the Poms in 1994-95, and it was a disaster. We got along fine as blokes but we had a few problems with our domestication duties - shirts, shoes, socks, cricket gear and mini-bar wrappers were all sprawled around our room over the week-long stay. At the end of the Test, he left with half my gear and I left with half of his, although I didn't get his cherished baggy green.
4. Mark Waugh - Mr. Julio
I roomed a bit with Junior early in my career before I really got to know him. We didn't have a lot in common in our touring life. I'm a massive Hawthorn fan in the AFL and his love was for the Bulldogs in the NRL. On a day off he loved nothing more than 18 holes of golf, while I was a non-golfer. He was one of the prominent members of the Julios, guys within the team who took a lot of pride in personal grooming. I was in the middle of the Nerd clan and very fashion-challenged. To motivate myself for big games I'd listen to Metallica, ACDC and Kiss, while Junior preferred the sounds of The Little River Band!
5. Michael Bevan - Mr. Mission Impossible
Rooming with Bevo was a bigger challenge than Tom Cruise had in any of his Mission:Impossible movies. Bevo was a perfectionist who needed the right amount of sleep to bring out his best game. He took objection to smokers, snorers, earlier risers, late-to-bedders, tall blokes, small blokes, drinkers etc. This is a man who has had the flu now for 36 years and took his own pharmacy on tour to maintain peak physical condition. Another individual who brought the notion of single rooms to the forefront.
6. Darren Lehmann - Mr. McDonald's
Would be Michael Bevan's nightmare roomy from hell. Smokes like a trooper, loves a beer and the odd late night. Then when he does get home he proceeds to snore as loud as rioting elephants. We roomed together in Sri Lanka in 1996 for an ODI tournament which was under heavy security. We couldn't leave the hotel, so that made the boys a little stir crazy for the three weeks. The highlight, for Boof and myself, was me questioning him about the McDonald's menu. At that stage he had a McDonald's card that gave him free food. I would ask questions like, "How much is a Big Mac meal deal, six nuggets and a caramel sundae?" He would have 15 seconds to answer. "Supersize or regular?" he would ask. "Supersize", I would reply. "$9.55" . . . hours of fun!
7. Brad Hogg - Mr. Fitness
Hoggy made his Aussie debut touring India in 1996 and was keen to set a good example. He was always first to training and last to finish, which would have impressed his team-mates except for the fact that the team bus couldn't leave until he had finished! Jeez we watched him bowl a lot in the nets. Being from the country he was always up early and ready for action. Room-mates were woken to grunting noises as he punched out push-ups and sit-ups at 5.30am. And he is still the only Australian cricketer to actually buy weights on a tour and carry them around for the entire trip!
8. Shane Warne - Mr. Entertainment
Rooming with Warney was always enjoyable as he loves his gadgets - DVDs, Minidiscs and the latest in mobile phones. He used to bring complete home entertainment systems on tour, lugging around a subwoofer and speakers in its own suitcase, before proceeding to play his music and movies - loud. Not a problem when he played some Powderfinger but I think Spice Girls should be listened to in the privacy of your own headphones. He once bought a mobile phone in Dubai in 1994 when they were only just new and the size of a house brick. He was disappointed with the low volume when speaking only to realise the phone was upside-down and back-to-front! Also a softie at heart, I once woke to find him crying during Notting Hill, when Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts reunite at the end.
9. Merv Hughes - Mr. Bodily Functions
I first roomed with Merv as an 18-year-old mulleted teenager straight from high school. I grew nervous when my fellow team-mates wished me luck. But we hit it off straight away; he became like a big brother to me. On arrival I would be sent to get food - maybe a couple of hamburgers, with a diet coke to even it out! I would also buy a Big M and Picnic each for sweets, to be saved for later that night. We would then "bat cave" our room by closing all curtains so no light could enter and have a couple of hours' siesta, then wake up and go out that night. Merv would then leave earlier than me, and I would go home to find two empty Big M cartons and Picnic wrappers. No need for an alarm clock, we had Merv's natural one. All I will say is that it was loud and smelly but very consistent - set for 30 minutes before departure. In those days for Victoria we used to swap roomies every second trip. I don't know what I did wrong but I roomed with Merv for six years!
10. Craig McDermott - Mr. Neat
Was the leader of our pace attack when I first came on the Australian scene and going from Big Merv's laidback attitude to Billy was quite a contrast. It really was The Odd Couple with myself and Billy. Everything had to be packed neatly, clothes put into drawers and shirts hung up on their hangers. In my seven years touring with the Aussie team I never packed any clothes in hotel drawers. Any rubbish I had thrown around was picked up by Billy and put in the bin before he would even acknowledge me. He was a massive snorer. The night before an Adelaide Test against the Poms I was in bed early, wanting a long relaxing sleep. Just as I was drifting off, Billy starts snoring. After tossing and turning for hours I finally screamed out, "Stop snoring Billy!" In a semi-conscious state he apologised and proceeded to stop snoring. I don't know how that works.
11. Troy Corbett (Vic) - Mr. Fast Food
Special mention to one of the great blokes of Victorian cricket. I was rooming with him and our middle-order player Laurie Harper in Darwin for pre-season one year. The apartments had one double bedroom and one bedroom with two singles. Using my Australian experience, I pulled rank immediately and chose the double. I slept beautifully and woke to see Laurie camped with bed sheets in the kitchen looking like he'd hardly had a wink of sleep. He told me he'd had to move out as he was scared to sleep in the same room as Ronnie. Ronnie, who was working at McDonald's at the time, was a sleepwalker and Laurie awoke to his team-mate above him, flipping burgers in his sleep, and of course ... he was nude!
This article first appeared in the November issue of Inside Cricket