By Sam Coulson, the ACS’s latest Literary Scholar
On 4 March, the Australian Cricket Society had a luncheon to celebrate Ken Piesse’s book Fifteen Minutes of Fame, Australia’s 70 One-Test Wonders.
We had the pleasure of sharing the afternoon with many ACS guests as well as one of the ‘wonders’ from the book in Geelong’s Wayne Phillips.
Phillips or ‘Rowdy’ as he is commonly known, told stories of not only the Test match he was fortunate enough to play in – exactly 30 years ago – but also the lead up to that match and how he got to be there, representing his country. Playing for Australia was never Phillips’ aim; he would have been satisfied to play at Sheffield Shield level for Victoria.
Phillip’s spoke about his debut game he played for Victoria against the touring West Indies in which he scored 111. ‘Everything just went right,’ he said.
Another key moment of Phillip’s career was scoring an unbeaten 90 and hitting the winning runs for his beloved Vics in a Sheffield Shield final, heightening his reputation as a possible Test call-up.
With the runs stacking up Phillips saw himself on the receiving end of a phone call from Ron Steiner from the Australian Cricket Board to which he was notified he had been selected to play in the upcoming match in Perth replacing Allan Border’s right hand man Geoff Marsh.
As explained in great detail in ‘Fifteen Minutes of Fame,’ AB wasn’t too pleased with the dropping of Marsh, even giving Australian coach at the time Bob Simpson a few choice words. Despite Captain Grumpy’s view, Phillips played and Marsh didn’t.
While disappointed, Marsh was one of the first to shake Phillip’s hand and even lent him his Australian blazer for the team photo.
Phillips had a double failure in the game and wasn’t selected again, but like 70 others who also played just one Test, he considers himself to be in the right place at the right time.
It was a lovely afternoon filled with great food and great stories.
Ken’s book features 70 essays of those to play just one Test… There are also 40 women who also played just the once. They, too, are listed.His book is available from cricketbooks.com.au