A talking point that often comes up regarding the state of cricket is the balance between bat and ball.
Michael Kasprowicz, Australia’s swing bowler from 1995 to 2006, has worn many hats in his colourful career.
Director on the Cricket Australia Board since August 2011, the tall and handsome 44-year-old has opted to stand down after being appointed interim CEO of Queensland Cricket.
Kasprowicz was Queensland’s all-time leading wicket-taker who played 38 Tests and 43 ODIs for Australia.
I will remember him for the nerve-wrecking 2005 Edgbaston Ashes Test in Birmingham which Australia lost by two runs despite gallant last-ditch batting from two players known for their fast bowling, Brett ‘Bing’ Lee and ‘Kasper’ Kasprowicz.
A few years ago I was lucky to meet him at the Sydney Cricket Ground press box during a Test match. He readily agreed to the impromptu interview.
“Take us back, Kasper, to the epic stand between Lee and you on the morning of August 7, 2005,” I asked. “You went in to bat at 9-220 with Australia needing 62 more runs for an almost impossible victory.”
“One of the strengths of the Australian teams is that you believe that you can win from any situation, so I joined Brett with a smile,” he replied, reliving the moment. “We were relaxed, having fun, enjoying the moment. Even when we got close we tried not to get tense.”
With the last-wicket pair adding 59 heroic runs and Australia needing only three more for an incredible win, Kasper (20 runs off 31 balls and hitting three fours) was given out ‘caught’ by wicketkeeper Geraint Jones and Australia lost by a narrow margin of two runs.
“The ball hit my right-hand glove which had released the bat,” he explained. “The hand was not holding the bat when struck by the ball therefore, as the rules state, it is not out. It was a very disappointing moment for me and for my teammates.
“It was cruel, to come so close and still lose. Everyone in the team felt dejected as they reflected on how they could have done better. Though devastated I had the satisfaction that I had done my best.”
Then he told me a story which showed that quick bowlers can also be quick-witted.
“When I was touring India, an Indian came up to me, shook my hands and said, ‘Thank you. You are single-handedly responsible for making Test cricket exciting again’ referring to the 2005 Edgbaston Test. I thanked him and jokingly added that that ‘single right hand’ was actually off the bat at the time… therefore not out!
“I think the 2005 Ashes series was great for the spectators because it was in the balance till the final hour of the final Test.”
The Ashes were reclaimed by England for the first time in 16 years after the 2-1 victory in 2005. But for the two-run defeat in Edgbaston, Birmingham, Australia could have triumphed 2-1. It was that close.
Fast bowlers Kasprowicz and Lee were once again engaged in a do-or-die battle as batsmen a year later. In the 2006 Johannesburg Test, Australia were 8-275, needing 292 to win.
As Justin Langer was badly injured this was virtually the last pair. But Lee (24) and Kasper (seven) reached the target and Australia whitewashed South Africa 3-0.
Kasprowicz took 113 wickets at 32.88 in 38 Tests (best figures 7-36) and 67 wickets at 24.98 (best 5-45) in 43 one-day internationals (best 5-45). He also played for Queensland, Mumbai Champs in the Indian Cricket League, ICL World XI and English counties Essex, Glamorgan and Leicestershire.
“My most rewarding experience was when we won the Test series in India in 2004 under acting skipper Adam Gilchrist,” he added.
Since then he served on the CA board becoming the youngest director of the board when he replaced Matthew Hayden in 2011. He was recently re-elected following CA’s 2015 annual general meeting and his current tenure was due to end in October 2018.
Cricket Australia chairman David Peever congratulated him on his appointment as the CEO of Queensland Cricket saying, “Michael is an experienced sporting and business leader with a deep affection and knowledge for the game.”
“On behalf of the Cricket Australia board, I would like to thank Michael for his tenure and contributions. Michael has always represented Queensland interests in helping us achieve our vision of becoming Australia’s favourite sport and a sport for all Australians.”
Michael said: “I’m pleased to be able to assist Queensland cricket at this point in time and grateful to the chairman David Peever and my fellow directors on the Cricket Australia board to enable me to take this on.
“Queensland Cricket is in a good state at the moment with strong growth in participation and enormous potential emerging through the youth pathway and elite teams like the Bulls, Queensland Fire and Brisbane Heat BBL and WBBL teams.”
To me ‘Kasper’ will be best remembered for his heroic last-wicket heroics with Lee in the 2005 Edgbaston Test.