Australia in England / Features

Ashes memories - Brendon Julian

A grandstand view for the Ball of the Century

The 1997 series was Michael Kasprowicz's first England tour

July 12, 2005

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Brendon Julian's debut at Old Trafford in 1993 included his first Test wicket, but his moment was overshadowed by the Shane Warne's Ball of the Century. It would be recalled as Warne's series and one that far exceeded Julian's 22-year-old expectations.



Brendon Julian: "The whole tour was well above my expectations" © Getty Images
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"It was my first tour with the Australia squad and I'd never met Allan Border before we left the airport in Australia. It was the same with Craig McDermott. These days you know most of the guys by the time you go into the team. AB was very encouraging and told me I'd deserved my spot. It wasn't daunting, but it was unusual. The trip was made easier because there were other new guys like Matthew Hayden, Michael Slater and Wayne Holdsworth, while Damien Martyn was another young one.

Playing my first Test at Old Trafford was the highlight. It was also Shane Warne's first-ball-in-England wicket. I didn't know I'd be playing until five or ten minutes before the toss because the wicket was wet and AB wasn't sure whether to go with Tim May or me. He decided on the quick. It was different back then [now they have a cap presentation], we just got on with it.

I got a couple of wickets, Phil DeFreitas and Alec Stewart, and the ball swung around. That was a strange game because Craig McDermott didn't get any, he was our main bowler and there was the big challenge between him and Graeme Hick. Hick didn't get any runs; Craig didn't get any wickets.

For Warne's ball I was at mid-off so I had a good view. Initially Mike Gatting and a lot of our guys, apart from Ian Healy, didn't think he was bowled. Gatting stood around and I started to run in because Heals was going off. They had a big screen at the ground and we watched the replay - "Oh my God, it had turned, bit, done everything." There was a lot of hype and expectation on Warne and he lived up to it.

At Lord's for the second Test I was 12th man, but when McDermott was injured, I came in for the third match at Trent Bridge to open the bowling with Merv Hughes. We only had the spinners after that so there was a bit of pressure. I enjoyed the time and got Robin Smith caught-and-bowled when he bunted back a low full-toss and I dived across.

I was also not out at the end, which was great because I was batting with Stephen Waugh. We were trying to save the game - we were five-down at tea and I came in shortly after. I hit a six to bring up my fifty, and Stephen said: "If you play that shot again AB will murder you." It was a wild swing over mid-on off Peter Such, but I'd been defending up until then so I thought I'd have a go. There was no "well done" until after the game. It was a defining moment of the series because we were up 2-0 and this was a draw so they were heading into the fourth match without a win. [Australia won the series 4-0.]

That was my last Test of the tour, but I played most of the county games and the ball swung for me. The conditions aren't as harsh in England with the heat or the hard wickets. It seamed a little - not a great amount - but it's a great environment to play cricket. England really is made for cricket.

As a kid getting to room with Merv Hughes and Craig McDermott was fantastic. Merv could be pretty scary, especially when he ordered room service late at night because I'd have to stay up with him. They were small rooms in England and he was messy.

The whole tour was well above my expectations. I would have been happy just to play the tour matches, not even getting a Test. But I was pleased to have front-row seats to the Tests and sit in the changing-rooms. It was the best thing."

Brendon Julian was talking to Peter English.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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Teams: Australia | England
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