Where are they now?: Bob Massie

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The Independent Online
IF POP history is laden with one- hit wonders, the treacherous waters of sport are similarly infested. No one, moreover, has hit as hard or as meteorically as the Joe Dolce of Australian cricket, Bob Massie.

At Lord's 21 years ago, Massie certainly had his taste of la dolce vita. Rejected by Northamptonshire while playing in Scotland in 1970, this quietly spoken seamer made such an impact on his Test debut that the contest was instantly enshrined as 'Massie's Match'. Gaining prodigious swing under overcast skies, he took eight wickets in each innings of the second Test to help level the series. His match haul of 16 for 137 remains the best for Australia, standing as the most incisive debut of all until India's Narendra Hirwani snared 16 West Indians for 136 in 1987-88.

Some cried foul, suggesting Massie applied lip salve to maintain the ball's shine and that Sir Donald Bradman subsequently ordered the practice to cease. Bradman has denied this, while Massie insists he merely rubbed one side of the ball and 'allowed the other side to deteriorate'. 'The conditions were perfect for swing,' he recalls. 'Some days things just go right.'

There were few such days thereafter. Massie won just five more caps, taking fewer wickets - 15 - than he managed in that initial outing. 'I struggled in the West Indies the following spring, tried to adjust my action but never regained that form.' By 1974 he had even lost his place in the Western Australia XI.

Now 46, Massie lives in Perth with his wife and two children, working in a bank and commentating for ABC Radio. He represented an Australia XI in a benefit match for Derek Randall at Trent Bridge on Sunday.

(Photograph omitted)

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