Andrew John Bichel
August 27, 1970, Laidley, Queensland
Right hand bat
Right arm fast medium
Anyone who thought Andy Bichel would disappear quickly after his strange dumping from the national squad alongside Michael Bevan at the end of 2003-04 was wrong. Bichel was anything but quiet as he crashed through state batting orders and developed so much as a batsman that not even the most sceptical critic could knock back his membership as an allrounder. Bevan and Bichel, two heroes of the 2003 World Cup, did not have their contracts renewed in 2004 so they decided to become born-again stars of the domestic scene.
In 2005-06, at the age of 35, Bichel was named the Pura Cup Player of the Year for his double of 452 runs at 34.76 and 50 wickets at 26.69. The final act of his summer was to seal Queensland the trophy by taking the last wicket at the Gabba. In three campaigns he had captured 155 victims, including a haul of 45 in 2006-07 which was capped by a state-best 7 for 54. However, he suffered a serious shoulder injury in 2007 and appeared in only three first-class fixtures, although he smashed 125 in a tour game against Sri Lanka before undergoing surgery. He wanted to come back from the reconstruction, but the journey was too hard and he retired the following season with 430 wickets for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield.
Bichel was a vibrant member of the state's drought-breaking Sheffield Shield win in 1994-95 and led the attack with Michael Kasprowicz for more than a decade before Kasprowicz stepped down. His best season came in 2004-05, when he knocked off Craig McDermott's Queensland record, as he picked up 60 Pura Cup victims in a desperate push to win a spot on a second Ashes tour. Instead he performed for Hampshire that winter - he also appeared for Worcestershire and Essex - and the promotion never came.
During his international career Bichel spent a lot of time coming in and going out of the squad but rarely stopped smiling. A prolific 12th man, he played 19 Tests for 58 wickets from his gutsy fast bowling and posted a half-century against West Indies, a team he always seemed to lift for. His best figures of 5 for 60 came against them at Melbourne in 2000-01, he was involved in the crushing Frank Worrell Trophy-clinching win in the fourth Test of the teams' 1996-97 series, and dismissed Brian Lara seven times on the 2003 tour.
While cementing a Test berth was out of reach, Bichel was a valued member of the one-day side from 2002 to 2004 and was almost unstoppable during the World Cup. In Australia's group match against England at Port Elizabeth he claimed 7 for 20 with a scintillating display of bowling before sharing a 73-run ninth-wicket partnership with Bevan to nurse Australia to an unlikely but hugely satisfying victory. "It was one of those perfect days," he said. Bichel also top scored for Australia with a vital half-century against New Zealand and finished the tournament with 16 wickets at 12.31 and 117 runs. Barely a year later he and Bevan were stripped of their green and gold status.
He maintained his links with the game after retiring and in 2009 was appointed coach of Papua New Guinea. In 2011 he gave up that role to take up a position on Australia's selection panel.
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