January 31, 2010

Australian cricket

785,300 smokes later, Doug Walters declares

Brydon Coverdale

The stories of Doug Walters’ smoking habits are almost as legendary as those of his batting. He wouldn’t go out anywhere without four packets of cigarettes on hand, and once on tour had a tailor make him a jacket with four pockets just to carry his load. He sometimes lit up a smoke and left it burning in the ashtray in the change-rooms before he went out to bat, just in case he didn’t last long.

He reckons he’d average 50 cigarettes a day but if he’d got up early, it could have been as many as 70 or 80. It was a habit that began 43 years ago thanks to a combination of working for a cigarette company and getting free rations, and army boot camp. But after an estimated 785,300 smokes since the 1960s, Walters has given cigarettes the flick thanks to laser therapy.

"When I was lying there I thought, gee I can't wait till this is over and I can get downstairs to have a smoke," Walters told the Sunday Telegraph. "Then I got downstairs and didn't really feel like one so I told myself, 'I'll wait till I get up to the bus stop.' (Walters had caught the bus to the city to avoid traffic.) Then I said, 'I'll wait till I get home.' But it never happened; I just never felt like one again."

But the other vices for which Walters is famous – having a drink and a bet on the horses – remain part of his life. "I'm not getting any treatment for beer and I still like a bet,” Walters said, “but now I can afford to put on a few more.”

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Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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