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Team-mates remember 'lovable rogue' Jenner

Brydon Coverdale

May 25, 2011

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Terry Jenner celebrates after a match, 1975
Terry Jenner helped energise any team he was involved in, according to Max Walker © Getty Images
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Terry Jenner's former team-mates have described him as "a lovable rogue" who transformed from a good spin bowler into an outstanding coach. To a generation of cricket fans, Jenner, who has died in Adelaide at the age of 66, was known as the mentor who helped Shane Warne develop from a promising young cricketer into the world's greatest spin bowler.

It was quite a leap for a man who took 389 first-class wickets but managed only nine Test matches. An attacking bowler in his younger years, Jenner later relied too often on the safer delivery out of the front of his hand than the loopy legbreak, but he found a way to instil confidence in Warne, who would turn to Jenner whenever he needed advice.

"I think one of the reasons he was able to relate to spin bowlers was that he'd been through the mill," said Greg Chappell, who played with Jenner at South Australia and captained him in the Test side. "He'd found it pretty tough himself as a spin bowler. It's not an easy art. I think there were probably times that TJ didn't have the confidence in himself that perhaps he was able to imbue in others as a coach.

"I think TJ could relate to Warnie's personality and perhaps the fact that he wasn't one that handled authority very well, because TJ never did. TJ found spin bowling pretty tough and had obviously thought a lot about it and what was important about it ... was to have the confidence to back yourself and trust what you had. There were probably times in TJ's career where he didn't do that, and having learnt from that experience I think helped him greatly when he was talking to others, but particularly someone like Shane Warne."

Jenner battled to hold down a spot in the Test team in the early 1970s, when Ashley Mallett, Kerry O'Keeffe and later Jim Higgs were all competing for the spin position. Jenner and Mallett had been close friends since they were 14, having played together in Perth when a teenage Jenner was trying to make his way as a wicketkeeper.

They moved to Adelaide at the same time - Mallett to seek coaching advice from the great Clarrie Grimmett, and Jenner to pursue a relationship - and ended up bowling together for South Australia for many years. Mallett praised Jenner as a great communicator and thinker on the game, and said the pair worked well as a team, while maintaining a healthy rivalry at the same time.

"I played a lot for South Australia with him, bowling in tandem, and we never had to discuss strategy or who we should be bowling to, it just happened instinctively," Mallett told ESPNcricinfo. "We were very competitive in the nets. If you talk to the Chappell brothers, you'd know that it was on in the nets. We always figured that if we could bowl well to the Chappells, then the next day's Test or Shield game would be easy.

"There was always a beer hanging off a wicket. He'd always claim a wicket. If Ian would drive TJ half an inch off the ground, that was caught at cover! We had a lot of fun but it was extremely competitive in the nets. TJ and I were competitive, we were always trying to outdo each other. We'd always done that as kids."

Mallett and Jenner played together twice in Test matches, both times in 1975. The second of those games, against West Indies at the Gabba, was Jenner's last Test match, and Chappell's first as Australia's captain. Chappell said one of his most vivid memories of playing with Jenner was when he was felled by a bouncer in the final Test of the 1970-71 Ashes series.

"I was at the non-striker's end when he got hit in the head by John Snow at the SCG. I always thought there was a single in it, but TJ never responded," Chappell joked. "It's fair to say that TJ was a lovable rogue. There was always a bit of fun just around the corner wherever TJ was."

Max Walker, who toured the West Indies with Jenner in 1973, said he would be remembered not only as a fine coach, but as an uplifting presence around the squad in his playing days.

"He was always full of mischief," Walker said. "To try and read his eyes it was a bit like, what's coming next? Is it the zooter, the toppie, the wrong'un, the slow one or the wide one? As such, he was always an energiser in the team. Quite often he carried the drinks, but he was always very much one of the lads."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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