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Meet Bruce Laird, the gutsy opener with no Test ton

MiD DAY talks to Perth-based ex-Australia opener, who got his kicks by playing fast bowling well

Former Australia opener Bruce Laird holds a unique distinction. Unlike most of his peers, he graduated from World Series Cricket (WSC) to Tests. He had already scored runs against the best bowlers in the world, but couldn't score a single century in 21 Tests despite scores of 92 and 75 on debut, against Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Joel Garner and Colin Croft at the Gabba in 1979-80.


Cut for big-time cricket: Australia's Bruce Laird in action against
England
in 1980. Pic/Getty Images


Distinguished writer and historian Gideon Haigh rates Laird (nicknamed Stumpy) as the best Australian batsman to not score a Test century. "Anybody who saw him bat in the late 70s would say that. He was a gutsy opener. It's a shame that he never lived up to his potential in Test cricket," he said.

Laird felt that WSC cut short his Test career. "Though I don't regret it one bit, I was close to 30 by the time I made my Test debut because of few years in WSC," he told MiD DAY yesterday.

"After playing both, I could definitely say that WSC was harder than Test cricket. Others may beg to differ, but I found WSC very tough. So I took lot of pride in succeeding there," he added. In 13 Super Tests, Laird scored 630 runs including three centuries. He recalled the time when he scored a dazzling century at Port-of-Spain in the final season of WSC (1978-79). "We were put into bat at Trinidad.

The wicket there is very damp initially and it's hard to hold the surface together. We were 32-5 at one stage - West Indies were steaming in with Andy Roberts and Co. But, we ended up scoring 246 because I scored 122. I batted the whole day and remained unbeaten on 110.

"At the end of the day, Roy Fredericks came into my room and said to me, 'well played, mate. I would have been proud to play a knock like that'. That was pretty much what happened. It was very nice of him to come and congratulate me like that. It was a great moment," he recalled. Laird doesn't regret not scoring a Test century. "I was involved in a bunch of Test wins.

At the time, to be quite honest, there wasn't much emphasis on centuries. I was pretty happy just playing for Australia. I could have been selfish and play for myself (laughs), but we were just happy winning Test matches," he signed off.

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