The Definitive: Stuart Law

Dominator of domestic cricket on both sides of the world, Stuart Law speaks to Will Macpherson and picks out nine moments that defined his run-laden career.

It was always amazing to play alongside legends and just chew the fat. AB [Allan Border] was incredible at Queensland. I remember when I was a kid scoring a ton and at the presser afterwards he stood behind me and when asked if we’d unearthed another gem, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, ice-cold, “He’s done it once, let’s see if he can do it again”. I wasn’t going to get ahead of myself after he’d said that!

110 and 0-25 | Australia v Zimbabwe, Benson & Hedges World Series, Hobart, Dec 1994

Mark Taylor told me as he was going out to do the toss that I was being promoted to open, which was brilliant – I didn’t have any time to mull it over. I was desperate to seize that opportunity and it was great to bat alongside Boonie [David Boon] at his home ground, although he ended up 98* so I copped a bit from the crowd for not giving him more strike! I was tempted to list my solitary Test match but, if I’m honest, it wasn’t really a Test at all. I was just filling in for Steve Waugh, and I hardly arrived at the wicket in a crisis – it was 496-4! I’m proud to have played Test cricket but fifties don’t count for much [Law scored 54* in his only Test innings], it’s hundreds that are important and I look back on that century in Hobart with great pride.

11 and 0-26 & 1-14 | Queensland v South Australia, Sheffield Shield Final, Brisbane, March 1995

This changed the face of the game in the state and the way people thought about Queensland cricket across Australia. We’d had an up-and-down season but won the final by an innings. I didn’t get many but had scored twin tons in Hobart in the last round to ensure a home final. It was an emotional win and we all remain great mates. Next year will be the 20th anniversary so I think a big lunch and a few beers are being planned.

72 and 0-13 | Australia v West Indies, World Cup Semi-Final, Mohali, March 1996

To play in a World Cup semi-final is a huge moment in any career but to win in the fashion we did and to contribute was especially nice. We were pretty confident going into the game as we were used to playing that great attack – the likes of Ambrose, Walsh and Bishop – on hard, bouncy wickets and thought the slow, low ones of India might favour us. A few overs in, though, I was walking out to bat at 8-3 and shortly after, Michael Bevan joined me at 15-4. We just decided to get our heads down, not worry about the scoreboard and fortunately we put on 140-odd. Still, 208 seemed nowhere near enough but fortunately Shane Warne turned up and produced a bit of magic.

0-38 and 80* | Essex v Warwickshire, NatWest Bank Trophy Final, Lord’s, Sept 1997

Lord’s is an amazing place even when it’s empty, but when it’s stuffed full of Essex fans cheering you on it’s extra special. This was one of those days that you would have played through a broken leg you had so much adrenaline running. In the end, we thrashed them. We probably had the better of the conditions, bowling them out for a sub-par total, but then me and my mate Paul Prichard set about Allan Donald. I was presented with the Man of the Match award by Sir Garfield Sobers!

6 and 2-13 | Essex v Leicestershire, Benson & Hedges Cup Final, Lord’s, July 1998

My time with Essex was special. This was the second trophy we won and I didn’t contribute much but it was a great win because it was so emphatic. We got a solid score before the heavens opened. We came back the next day and blew Leicestershire away. Looking back, it’s not the individual performances and the hundreds I remember, but the finals and the trophies.

263 | Essex v Somerset, County Championship, Chelmsford, August 1999

This came when Andy Caddick was in the middle of a long purple patch. He started off by bowling so consistently, looking to force errors, so I just kept punching him through point. Eventually he said, “Haven’t you got any other shots?” As my score progressed, the sledges came harder – all the usual stuff about me not being good enough to play for my country – and I knew I was really getting under his skin. When I got to about 150 I was giving a fair bit myself, saying that if he played for his country then he should be able to get a hack like me out! The score itself [Law’s career-best] didn’t really matter – it was just great to win a personal battle with a world-class bowler.

129 & 84 | Queensland v Victoria, Pura Cup Final, Brisbane, March 2000

I’d had a horrible year, couldn’t buy a run. The longer it went on, the worse it felt. Then Queensland organised a trip for us to the leukaemia ward at the local hospital. I’d been feeling so low that I just wanted to stay at home but my wife forced me out the door. I went down there, chatted to the parents, watched these kids who were running around playing, even though they had just months to live and found myself sneaking off to the bathroom, just bawling my eyes out. My problems on the cricket field had been put into perspective. It was great fun and taught me to shut up and stop whinging. Then when we played South Australia I spoke to their coach Greg Chappell. He watched me in the nets and after four balls he said, “Are you even watching the ball?” A few days later I went out to bat [in the Pura Cup final] and just watched the ball. It seemed to work!

116* & 123* | Lancashire v Essex, County Championship, Manchester, June 2001

This was a special match on a number of levels. First and foremost, it came against Murali on a spinning wicket. Going into the game, when we were discussing how to play him, I said to the brains trust at Essex that we should cut out the sweep because that’s the shot Murali wants us to play. The Essex hierarchy thought differently and I ended up being pretty much the only guy not to play the sweep, and also the only guy to pass 40-odd as Murali got 10 wickets. It came at a time when I was a bit on the outer at Essex, a few people didn’t want me around, so that spurred me on. And the fact it came against Lancashire, whose coach Bob Simpson – a big New South Wales man – just didn’t think I could play, especially against spin. It was nice to prove people wrong and to walk off the ground at Old Trafford and have him there, shaking my hand and congratulating me. To top it all off, I went and got another ton in the one-day match the day after too!

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