ANDY WALTON, England and the World's most capped player

Part 3

ICW: Australians feature strongly in your lists of "best" players above. What is it about Australia and their success so far?

Andy: You know Sheldon I have played in every World Cup since the first one played in England in 1995, to the last one played in New Zealand in 2002, and the Aussies have won all four of them. The simplistic answer is that Australia breeds good indoor players, but there is quite a bit more that goes on behind the scenes that should get credited.

Firstly, the Australian Indoor Cricket Federation run a well-organized association and special credit should go to Ross Collins (President) and Karen Denman (National Executive Director). These guys and others (Rob Chilcott) seem to have a good understanding of our sport and are able to continue the enthusiasm for indoor cricket.

Secondly, perhaps the main factor for Australia's success lies with their coaches. Australia has a knack of producing good quality coaches, perhaps no more so than the legendary David Lewis. Dave took coaching skills to another level whilst all the other international teams seemed to play catch up. I remember when the Australians toured England, we used to try to sneak a peek at his coaching techniques. We learnt much from our spies.

Thirdly, the Australian coaches and selectors have a greater indoor cricket population to choose from. For example, the Aussie side is chosen from the State championships, which is made up of 6 or 7 teams. Each individual state's team is in turn chosen from approximately 10 Super-League teams within their state. Contrast that with England, where the national team is chosen from 4 Super-League teams. In other words, the England squad is chosen from 32 players nation wide. In comparison, the Australians have a choice from approximately 400 top players.

ICW: I regularly wake up in the middle of the night screaming, "why isn't indoor cricket booming in England? Or India? Or the West Indies? Or Mauritius?". Perhaps you could answer for England?

Andy: First thing Sheldon, I think you should get some help--there are some wonderful medications available nowadays. Secondly, I may as well answer for Mauritius. I haven't a clue. That question should be directed at the British Indoor Cricket Association. If you were to force me to answer, I would put it down to Soccer being the most popular sport and possibly the fact that indoor cricket clashes with pub opening hours. Sorry buddy, I don't really know.

ICW: Seriously then, do you think England will survive as an indoor cricket nation?

Andy: Yes, I think it will . . . well I hope it does. Although I think something needs to be done to promote the game. The BICF have done their best with the resources made available to them. If it wasn't for Bob Manca (Chairman of the BICF), international indoor cricket would have died ages ago in England. In the past, the England sides either lacked coaches or lacked ability in the coaching department. As I understand it, Bob has taken measures to improve the standard of the England team--as you know, England is employing an Australian coach for this year's Ashes tour in Australia in December. He has a sponsor for the tour, so steps in the right direction have been taken.

ICW: Hmmmm . . . an England vs Australia Ashes tour. Are you tempted to come out of retirement?

Andy: Well Sheldon, I have just been selected to represent Western Australia in the National Championships in Melbourne in July 2003. I am really enjoying my indoor and playing better than ever. So, I don't know…. you will have to watch this space!!!

ICW: We will indeed. And of course you'll continue playing for Melville A-Grade in the Western Australian Super-League in the meantime?

Andy: I will. Like I said, I'm enjoying the sport more than I ever have, and I feel I'm playing as well as ever because of that.

ICW: Okay, let's really put you in the firing-line. Name your all-time world top 10 side.

Andy: Now that's a hard one. There are quite a few great players, past and present, to choose from. I hope I don't offend anyone, but my top ten indoor cricketers would be:

1) Dion Muir (Australia) 2) Greg Mathews (Australia)
3) John Mark (Australia) 4) Alan Wilson (Australia)
5) Craig Berger (Australia) 6) Jay Otto (Australia)
7) Robbie Kerr (New Zealand) 8) Graham Murray (New Zealand)
9) Michael Edmonds (England) 10) Tim van Nort (South Africa)

ICW: Finally Andy, what are your greatest memories from all your years of playing?

Andy: Apart from the personal milestones of achieving the most capped record and getting a few 'Man of the Match' awards and 'Player of the series' awards, I would have to say my fondest memories come from simply being on tour with a group of mates. Indoor cricket has been good to me and taken me all over the world, playing cricket in South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Sri Lanka. I have made plenty of friends in many countries, and would like to take this opportunity to thank all my teammates, past and present, for some of the greatest times in my life.

ICW: That sounds like a great note to end this interview on. Andy Walton, good luck in the Nationals later this month, and thank you for your time and effort in sharing your thoughts with the readers of Indoor Cricket World.

Andy: It's been a pleasure Sheldon. Thank you.

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