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Tributes flow for cricket legend Brown -

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Tributes flow for cricket legend Brown

The World Today - Tuesday, 18 March , 2008 12:46:00

Reporter: Nicole Butler

ELEANOR HALL: Now to the death in Brisbane on the weekend of cricket legend Bill Brown.

He was a member of Don Bradman's "Invincibles" team and the graceful right handed opening batsman
became an elder statesman of the game and a mentor to generations of players.

Today many of those who knew Bill Brown are also paying tribute to his humble ways and larrikin
sense of humour as Nicole Butler reports from Brisbane.

BILL BROWN: I like the game of cricket. I enjoy it, and I've had some wonderful trips and
experiences on account of cricket.

NICOLE BUTLER: Bill Brown, former Australian Test cricket captain, and dashing opening batsman died
peacefully in an RSL nursing home in Brisbane on Sunday night.

The 95-year-old was the oldest surviving member of Don Bradman's "Invincibles" - whose legendary
tour of England in 1948 saw Australia go undefeated.

Brown was also the last surviving member of the Australian side to tour England in 1934.

A fellow "Invincible" - all-rounder - Sam Loxton says he was shattered when he heard of Brown's
death.

SAM LOXTON: He was a dear fellow, a dear man. A great player. He was a delightful fella to tour
with because he'd been there twice before and of course, that made a difference. He had a world of
experience about English conditions and of course, the great man Bradman said that Bill Brown was a
wonderful player. A better player in England than he was in Australia and I think that the figures
bear that out.

NICOLE BUTLER: Mr Loxton says Brown's results are all the more impressive because cricket in the
1940 was more difficult than it is now.

SAM LOXTON: Bill was in the time of uncovered wickets you know and of course, there were no covered
wickets in England round about '34 and '38.

NICOLE BUTLER: Brown was a graceful right handed opening batsman, and Mr Loxton said he displayed
style and a sense of humour on the field.

SAM LOXTON: I mean to say, I can remember I was looking for somebody. We were playing at Lords and
I was looking for somebody to go down to the nursery and have a little bit of a knock with and Bill
was available. He bowled to me for an hour and a half and the next match I think I went out and got
100 and Bill said, "Oh well", he said, "that's the way it goes". Never give a sucker a break.

NICOLE BUTLER: Of course that larrikin sense of humour wasn't limited just to the pitch.

SAM LOXTON: We used to do a few shows together up there in Brisbane. They'd get us on and as long
as they got us on just after the entree because I used to say they were pretty wise. They never
knew whether either of us would last before they brought the main course on.

NICOLE BUTLER: Brown played 22 tests for Australia all up and he was the first Queensland-born
player to ever captain the side.

His cricketing was interrupted by World War II and he served as a pilot with the RAAF on active
service in Papua New Guinea.

But his sporting career resumed as quickly as it was cut short.

He had flown a group of Australian ex-prisoners of war home from the Philippines, and drove
straight to the Gabba to captain Queensland against New South Wales.

Throughout his 95 years Brown maintained that the Ashes is still cricket's most important trophy.

BILL BROWN: There's always been a certain aura about the England-Australia Ashes cricket. But in
this day and age you've got quite a number of countries which can play very well, and you've got to
play well to beat them.

NICOLE BUTLER: While playing cricket at the highest level, Brown maintained the lifestyle of a very
ordinary Australian.

And despite a lifetime of adulation - the farmer's son was always a humble man.

ABC reporter Donna Field discovered that when she interviewed the "Invincible" shortly after his
94th birthday.

DONNA FIELD: As an elder statesman of the game, do you give younger cricketers advice when you meet
them?

BILL BROWN: If they would like it. I don't force it on them, naturally, but if they would like it,
and if I feel I can help them, I certainly do.

DONNA FIELD: What about recounting your glory days? You were a member of the "Invincibles" team. Do
you talk to them about that?

BILL BROWN: Occasionally, but there again I don't force my opinions on them.

DONNA FIELD: How different was it then?

BILL BROWN: Well, we had a very good side in the "Invincibles", but the actual game was no
different.

NICOLE BUTLER: Bill Brown retired from cricket in 1958, but kept close contact with modern day
cricketers.

Generations of cricketers turned to the legend for advice - and many adored him.

Brown is survived by his wife Barbara, three sons, 10 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.

ELEANOR HALL: Nicole Butler with that report.