With the Ashes now only weeks away it is time to start revving up the troops so Hod, Rutters and yours truly will be taking a look back and profiling some of the true heroes who have made the Ashes mean what it does today. The men whose amazing deeds in the battle for the urn have excited us all. Men with slightly large waistlines, questionable facial hair and not always meeting the description of an “elite athlete”. But men around whom legends have been born.
The Ashes starts here.
Ashes Heroes Profile #1 – David Clarence Boon MBE
Where to start with the ultimate Australian Ashes hero? Where the man became a legend.
It’s 1989 and a 28 year old David Boon boards the plane in Australia to fly to London to reclaim the Ashes back from England. Rather than relax on the 22 hour flight to London, a thirsty Boonie had decided to have a beer. Or two. Or three, four….. and then it was on – he was going to have a crack at Rod Marsh’s record of 45 beers consumed between Sydney to London.
Boonie was a good candidate to have a crack at the title, having strong form. In 1988 he famously came in to bat during a one day game after a huge night on the sauce and after a few minutes in the middle (and couple of scampering runs between the wickets) felt the beers from the night before on the way back up. After a quick relieving vomit in front of a live TV audience of millions he went on to score 122 and win Man of the Match. I digress – back to that flight.
The story is a long one (and well worth reading here) but to move this blog post along, in an amazing feat that has never been surpassed, Boonie guzzled 52 cans of beer before disembarking (without assistance) at Heathrow. Team coach Bob Simpson was livid apparently, and Boonie almost got sent home.
Simmo said the story couldn’t leave the dressing room. But it was too late – Merv Hughes (who also had “several” beers on the flight) had already done four or five radio interviews on the successful record attempt…
Mercifully, Boonie wasn’t sent home and went on to score 442 runs at an average of 55.25 as the Aussies reclaimed the Ashes in a 4-0 series win. Boonie had always been a favourite with the Aussie fans but following the new record set on the flight over he was now elevated to cult figure.
Boonie’s career zoomed into the stratosphere following the ’89 series as he put bowling attacks around the world to the sword. When England turned up in 1990-91 to try to get the Ashes back, “The Keg on Legs” was having none of it. He was England’s nemesis – scoring a series high 530 runs and averaging 75.71 for the series, including a sparkling 121 in Adelaide.
Boonie wasn’t done there in tormenting England’s pathetic bowling attack and when he arrived back on English soil in 1993, he made sure the Ashes stayed in Australian hands with another dominant display – 555 runs (most in the series) at an average of 69.37. He scored a century in the first three tests at Lord’s, Trent Bridge and Headingly (the biggest being 164 not out). He was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1994.
Boonie’s form began to wane by the 1994-95 series (despite smashing 131 in one match and taking a gem of a catch for Shane Warne’s only ever international hat-trick) but of course, Australia won the series again. He retired with a career average of 45 against England and seven centuries.
What a dead-set legend.