Sport

Josh Hazlewood and Trent Copeland honour Ray Lindwall 70 years after his debut

Seventy years after the great fast bowler Ray Lindwall was unleashed during the Australian team's 1946 tour of New Zealand, Josh Hazlewood and Trent Copeland took time out to visit his final resting place – 30 metres from the SCG's training nets – before embarking on their respective missions across the Tasman.

Like Lindwall 70 years ago, Hazlewood will spearhead the Australian bowling attack against a Kiwi team some believe ought to be favourites on home soil. Copeland will be in New Zealand's South Island for this week's historic NSW-Western Australia Sheffield Shield match.

Honour: Trent Copeland and Josh Hazlewood with the Ray Lindwall monument.
Honour: Trent Copeland and Josh Hazlewood with the Ray Lindwall monument.  Photo: Janie Barrett

Lindwall, who passed away in 1996 aged 74, is one of cricket's great figures. Apart from starring for Bradman's 1948 Invincibles – where he and Keith Miller formed a fearsome opening partnership – he played fullback for the St George Dragons, kicking 71 goals and scoring seven tries in the 31 top-grade matches he played between 1940-46.

He served in the army during World War II and despite almost being blown up by a Japanese bomb in New Guinea and suffering from bouts of dengue fever and malaria he returned home safely. After hanging up his footy boots Lindwall's unholy combination of pace and accuracy resulted in 228 wickets and along the way he became a legend.  

Former teammate Alan Davidson maintains Lindwall was the greatest express bowler he's ever seen while Gordon Rourke, who played alongside him in the 1959 Ashes series, was inspired to bowl fast after watching him play at North Sydney Oval.

Visiting Lindwall's final resting place – his ashes are entombed in the column that displays his bronze plaque on the SCG's Walk of Honour – held a special significance for Hazlewood and Copeland because as members of his old St George club they've charged in from the "Lindwall end" at Hurstville Oval.

"I prefer the Lindwall end because of the way the wind comes across over your right shoulder and, if anything, it's a little bit downhill," Hazlewood said. "You also have all the old blokes behind you criticising your every movement, so that helps."

Copeland said Lindwall's name is revered at St George, a club some of Australian cricket's greatest names have represented.

"The big thing for me is the history of the club," he said. "The success of the club was built around the guys of Ray Lindwall's generation – Sir Donald Bradman, Bill O'Reilly, Arthur Morris; Test superstars, not just St George superstars and it is great we can follow in their footsteps."

While Hazlewood will note the 70th anniversary of Lindwall's first match in the baggy green where, opening the bowling he took 1-13 and 1-16 at Wellington, he is well aware the Kiwis at home will be a different unit to the one that lost the series in Australia before Christmas.

"It's going to be very tough, I think playing over there in their conditions will be the highlight of our summer," he said. "They've had the same team for a long time and have done really well over there."

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