It’s Sunday afternoon here now in Australia and it’s been almost two days since I read that you had a heart attack and died…. I still don’t believe it and I still look through your socials to see a new post or story about Gin or how good Melbourne is, haha.
Yesterday was tough.. Tougher than I thought it could be. I’m still trying to work out why it has hit me so hard. I know we didn’t message each other every day or keep in touch, but I could alway send you a message if I wanted some help or some advice on something spin related. I mean it was only a few weeks ago we were exchanging messages about JL and how we felt about the situation. I still can’t believe that it was the last time we spoke.. If only I had of known it was the last time we spoke with each other..
Cricket will never be the same again. To be honest mate, the world isn’t going to be the same. You were someone who I grew up and literally idolised every day. Whenever I watched cricket, I was always waiting for you to bowl. Then when I played the game, all I wanted to do was play against or on the same team as you. We played against each other a couple times.
You won’t remember but my first time was against you in a shield game down in Melbourne. I charged you first ball I faced. For no reason but just because. You picked the ball up and through it back at me and said a few words. I was just so happy I was playing against you. I think I smiled and you sledged me some more. I remember telling my parents that night I had just faced Shane Warne, such a good feeling.
Probably my greatest memory was being able to tour with you. I was always the backup spinner and only chosen because there was no other finger spinners floating about. My first test tour away was with Hayden, Langer, Ponting, M Waugh, S Waugh, Martyn, Gilchrist, Lee, Warne, Gillespie, McGrath, Bichel, Lehmann and myself.. Honestly it was incredible. The greatest time of my life. I was hanging with all of my idols. What more could a kid ask for.
When we toured to India in 2004 you took me under your wing one night. You brought me a long to a dinner with Sachin Tendulkar in his restaurant and then we went to a casino. It was probably the most insane time of my life. You weren’t drinking but the money you were putting on the number 23 was just insane. I remember you saying ”You gotta be in it to win it Ritzy”. I walked away from that night just looking at you in a whole new level. Was just so crazy…
My career was challenging. Following behind you was incredibly tough. I didn’t have the skills you did and I didn’t have the confidence you did. Whenever I played for Australia, I always felt it was going to be my last game. Maybe it was because I always felt me game wasn’t up to the standards set by you. You changed the game forever and the game and it’s fans are eternally grateful for what you have done.
It’s funny how you were responsible for so many events in my life. You were responsible for my test debut. You broke your finger in the afternoon leading up to the game. I remember as I was batting beside you, it looked like nothing and then next minute, I am playing my first test..
I was able to be part of a World Cup thanks to you. For what ever reason you took a pill your mum gave you and ruled you out of the tournament which gave me the opportunity to be part of a winning campaign. Without that, I would have never had that opportunity in my life.
Definitely the biggest impact was just before my first 5 wicket haul at the MCG. The chat was nothing out of the ordinary but it was a chat that instilled some inner belief in me that I was struggling to find. I was at a point in my career where it felt like everyday a journo was questioning my ability to win games for Australia. Leading into the 5th day we chatted for about 20mns. We chatted about being patient, blocking the noise and trusting in your own ability. It’s hard to explain but when your idol, the greatest spinner in the world tell you that he has belief in you, you feel about 10 ft tall. We had plenty more chats but that was the last chat we had about belief, from there on it was tactical. I could have chatted spin bowling to you for days on end.
I could chat for days but the show must go on.
King…. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I will miss speaking with you.
I will miss your commentary.
I will miss your social media shirtless posts.
But I think most of all I will just miss you…
Take it easy mate and will see you again one day…