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1990s in Review

The Ian Healy taunt that had Graham Thorpe ‘out sledged’

Healy Thorpe
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Graham Thorpe, a panelist in deciding Wisden’s Test Team of the 1990s, chose Australia’s Ian Healy in his XI.

Speaking on the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, the former England batsman recalled two instances of the wicketkeeper’s brilliance from their era, one of which led to the only occasion Thorpe was “out sledged on a cricket pitch”.

The left-hander was stumped twice by Ian Healy during the course of his Test career, once in the 1993 Ashes, and then two years later in the 1994/95 series. Both times, a well-set Thorpe decided to take on Shane Warne but had his bails clipped by Healy, with his error the first-time round possibly encouraged by the wicketkeeper’s cheeky comments from behind the stumps.

“His two best stumpings were both off me when I was batting,” Thorpe said. “One was at Edgbaston when I was a bit of a greenhorn, and actually the story behind that was, Steve Waugh was at silly point, and it’s the only time I’ve been out sledged on a cricket pitch. I said to myself as I walked off, ‘that’s never going to happen again’.

“We were eight down, I was 60 not out, and Ian Healy turned round to Steve Waugh who was standing at silly point, and he said, ‘Watch this little prick play for a red inker’. And I charged out of my crease trying to hit Warne for six, and obviously I missed it, it hit the rough, and it was a great take. ”

Two years later, Thorpe stepped out again, this time on 123, and without any encouragement on Healy’s part.

“The other one might have been at Perth when I was trying to hit Warne out of Perth,” Thorpe recalled. “I was having my Mark Waugh moment, I’d got 120-odd on the board and I thought, ‘Right, now’s the time to take the blonde lad down’. It was a very similar thing, massive bounce on the ball and Healy took two great stumpings.

“As a selector [for the Wisden Test team of the 1990s], I’ve just gone for the out-and-out wicketkeeper in that generation.”

Thorpe went on to recall another bit of brilliance from the ever-inventive Healy, who almost fooled the English batsman with a smart ploy from behind the stumps during a Test.

“He was a great character as well, very funny,” said Thorpe. “There was an incident when I was in Brisbane, and I went to sweep the ball, and Glenn McGrath was at short fine-leg at the time. I went to sweep the ball and I missed it, and Ian Healy’s shouted to McGrath “Get it pigeon, get it, get it”, and I’ve nearly set off for a single. Little did I know that the ball is in Ian Healy’s hands, he’s taken it down the leg-side. And I turned round to Healy and said, ‘You wouldn’t, would you?’ and he said, ‘Try me mate’.

“He was one of those Aussies in the Nineties, there was a handful of them, if you did well against them they’d be forthcoming with a pack of six and share a beer and chat the game over which was great. They weren’t all like that, but a few of them were.”‘

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