Beloved Cricket And Broadcasting Legend Max Walker Dies, Aged 68

RIP, Tangles.

28/09/2016 9:48 AM AEST | Updated 28/09/2016 1:18 PM AEST
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A much-loved figure who was one of a kind

There was no one like him and never will be. Max Walker has died. The beloved former Australian cricketer, known as "Tangles" for his unorthodox windmill bowling action, was 68. He was fighting cancer.

Born in Tasmania, Walker moved to Victoria where played cricket and VFL -- notching 85 games for the Melbourne Demons. But he eventually settled on cricket, and played in an age when a bowler did well to get any matches for Australia in teams dominated by Dennis Lille and Jeff Thomson.

Walker had an impressive and underrated record. In 34 Tests, he took 134 wickets at an average of 27.47. His clever swing bowling was a valued weapon to balance the extreme pace-dominated Aussie attack in an era when our men's team dominated world cricket.

After cricket, Walker was part of Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket revolution. He moved into radio commentary a week after his cricket retirement, then went into the Nine commentary box and hosted Wide World Of Sports until 1999.

He was also a prolific wordsmith, who at one time was Australia's best-selling author. They didn't have the term "dad jokes" back in Max's day, but he basically invented the genre.

Walker's everyday bloke, happy-go-lucky persona made him a cherished figure as a broadcaster, public speaker and a man.

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Aussie cricket will never be the same.

The only two things that bothered him? "Batsmen, and flies". Or so the script went in this memorable bug repellent commercial. That's the sort of figure Walker was. Even an Aerogard ad became iconic thanks to his involvement.

In 2011, Walker was named a Member of the Order of Australia for services to cricket and the wider community through his work with social welfare and youth organisations.

"Max had a degree in architecture even if he claimed the only thing he ever designed was a chook shed. He must have been clever because as he often joked, he managed to transform a career in cricket, football and architecture into talking and writing bullshit and getting well paid for it," said Greg Chappell, Australia's cricket captain in Walker's day.

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Walker in 1977.

Cricket Victoria issued a statement, which in part read:

"Max had a terrific zest for life and a real interest in other people. He was very young for his 68 years."

Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland also issued a statement, which in part read:

"Max was an outstanding cricketer who played an important role in the emergence of successful Australian cricket teams in the 1970s. "It was a golden era of Test Cricket under the captaincy of Ian and Greg Chappell, and Max's medium fast bowling and his unmistakable bowling action were a feature of those teams, and then in the late 1970s when he joined World Series Cricket.

On behalf of everyone at Cricket Australia our deepest sympathies go out to Max's family, friends and all those in cricket who had the pleasure of dealing with him. He was a great character, with a big smile and positive approach to life. He will be sadly missed."

"Maxie was larger than life," his former Channel Nine colleague Ken Sutcliffe told Sky News. "He just liked being around people and spinning yarns. He was a fine cricketer -- sometimes we lose sight of that. He was also an architect by trade and he wrote with great flourish."

As he bowled. And as he lived life. RIP Tangles.

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