Michael Jonathon Slater
February 21, 1970, Wagga Wagga, New South Wales
Right hand bat
Right arm medium
A combative and wholehearted cricketer, Michael Slater has played many vital innings for New South Wales and as an Australia opener with his adventurous brand of strokeplay.
A product of Wagga Wagga, his was a meteoric rise. Following a stint at the Australian Cricket Academy, he made rapid strides, turning a place in the New South Wales Second XI at the start of the 1992-93 season into a berth in Australia's 1993 Ashes squad by the end of that summer. After notching a half-century in the opening match of that series - alongside fellow New South Welshman, Mark Taylor - and complementing it with a brilliant century in the following encounter at Lord's, he soon became a regular in his nation's Test team.
Aside from the period between October 1996 and March 1998, Slater occupied a position at the top of the Australian Test batting line-up for close to a decade. Amid a golden run of success for the team as a whole, individual highlights have included his 219 against Sri Lanka in Perth in 1995-96; and his brilliant home series against New Zealand in 1993-94 (which netted him 305 runs at 76.25) and England (623 runs at 62.30) in 1994-95. His signature trait of kissing his helmet whenever he reached three figures was seen 14 times, and he made scores in the nineties on a record-breaking nine occasions. He also played in each of the 16 matches between late 1999 and early 2001 which delivered the then Australian team the greatest run of consecutive victories in the history of Test cricket.
Ironically, Slater's aggressive approach didn't translated to similar results in one-day cricket. He produced a spectacular 73 on his one-day international debut but did not reach such heights again and did not played in an international limited-overs match after 1997.
After a prolonged form slump, Slater was dropped from the Australian Test side in August 2001 for the fifth Ashes Test. The following Australian summer - and under intense media scrutiny of both his professional and personal life - Slater then struggled to maintain a place in the New South Wales side. He continued to plug away, but as his career as a commentator took off, so his form with the bat, and appetite for the game, declined. He suffered a debilitating illness during the 2003-04 summer and announced his retirement in June 2004.
John Polack (June 2004)
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