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The 1961series left enduring memories for Brian Booth
July 10, 2005
Brian Booth, who captained Australia in two of his 29 Tests, was selected for two tours to England and made his debut as a 27-year-old at Old Trafford in 1961.
Richie Benaud came up to me before the fourth Test at Manchester and said I was playing, which was a thrill because any young boy wants to play for his country. I'd played plenty of Tests in the backyard growing up in Perthville, New South Wales, and England didn't win any of them.
The pitch was green and Benaud was unsure what to do if he won the toss because Jim Laker got 19 wickets there in '56. We batted first, I came in at 4 for 106, Bill Lawry and I put on a partnership and I got 46. As I walked out to bat there was a little boundary fence about six to eight inches high and I thought as long as I could get over that I would have played a Test.
It didn't look like it was going to be mine or Australia's Test in England's second innings. Then Richie came around the wicket, got six wickets and we won by 54 runs. It was a real turnaround because they had been 1 for 150. Australia won the series but it was very even. England took the third Test; we won the second and the fourth. The series was played in such good spirit. There were lots of good lucks and bad lucks.
Overall it was a wonderful experience and the trip I enjoyed most. It was my first tour, I was happy playing the county games and to come back having played two Tests was great. I loved the county matches and it's a shame for the current guys that there aren't more.
During the opening game of the tour at Worcester I got off the mark and Tom Graveney said: "Congratulations on your first run on English soil." In the first practise match at Arundel I was bitten by one of the Duke of Norfolk's corgis. It was protecting its family and I got a nip that put a little hole in my brand new trousers.
Then I was 12th man in the Lord's Test when Neil Harvey called for a pair of gloves. I went to take them out but an attendant stopped me and said: "These doors only open for a fall of wicket or the close of play." I went out one of the side ones on to the field and by the time I got there Harvey wasn't there - he was out and didn't get his gloves.
I have no bad memories of the tour - it was terrific. There was a wonderful team spirit and everyone would go out together. When I wasn't playing I went to museums and enjoyed the countryside. I haven't been back since 1964 and would have loved to have gone again. Australians don't feel they've had a cricket education until they've played in England.
Brian Booth was talking to Peter English
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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