Former India skipper and vice-president of the Mumbai Cricket Association, Dilip Vengsarkar related an anecdote to highlight the fear Jeff Thomson instilled in batsmen in the 1970s.
At the launch of the MCA-IDBI Federal Life Insurance Bowling Foundation which has the former Australia pace great as its coach, Vengsarkar recalled: “I faced Thomson in the 1977-78 series in Australia as a 21-year-old. I had not seen him bowl till then because he had not toured India before. There was big hype around Thomson because of the way he had battered and bruised the West Indies the previous season. In our first tour match versus Queensland, I opened the innings with Chetan Chauhan and I could see the entire Indian team watching Thommo from the first floor.
“He bowled at around 130kmph... looseners I would say. I tried to come on the front foot on the fifth ball. The next ball, he pitched it just short of length and it flew over the wicketkeeper for four byes. He just looked at me as if to suggest, ‘don’t make the mistake of coming on the front foot to me’. Ashok Mankad and I had a partnership. Something happened between Thommo and Mankad, and Ashok gave it back.
Thommo had this habit of cursing himself. When we went into the dressing room, we all said to Mankad that now Thommo will not spare him in the series. Ashok immediately went to their dressing room with two bottles of beer to cool Thommo down. It was an exciting series. We lost the final Test to lose the series (2-3) but Thommo was the big difference between the two teams,” said Vengsarkar.