Former Australian chairman of selectors Laurie Sawle passes away at 96
Sawle was a visionary of Western Australian and Australian cricket administration, steering the nation's cricketing direction in the latter part of the 20th century
Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) announced on Tuesday that the former Australian chairman of selectors Laurie Sawle had passed away. Born in East Fremantle on 19 August 1925, Sawle passed away overnight aged 96.
"WA Cricket is deeply saddened by the passing of Western Australian cricketing great Laurie Sawle AM and sends its heartfelt condolences to his family and friends," said Western Australia Cricket Association in a statement. Sawle was a visionary of Western Australian and Australian cricket administration, steering the nation's cricketing direction in the latter part of the 20th century.
Known commonly as "The Colonel" - having served in the 7th Australian Infantry Battalion during the Second World War - Sawle had a profound impact as State selector between 1962 and 1980. He handed First Class debuts to the likes of Dennis Lillee, Rod Marsh, Kim Hughes, Terry Alderman, Bob Massie, Ross Edwards and John Inverarity, and was consequentially central to WA winning six Sheffield Shield titles.
With razor-sharp instincts, an unrivalled eye for talent, and a fundamental belief in the value of youth and character, Sawle later became a member of Australia's selection panel between 1982-1995. For 11 of those years, Sawle was a wise yet tough Chair of national selectors, awarding Test debuts to Steve Waugh, Mark Waugh, Mark Taylor, Ian Healy, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Damien Martyn, Justin Langer, and Matthew Hayden, among others.
This allowed Australia to rebuild its fortunes in the 1980s and 1990s, and culminated in one of the most prosperous periods for Australian cricket. The Colonel - who was also an effective team manager during the 1989 Ashes series, and served as Director on the Australian Cricket Board - is considered by some experts as the architect of the era. On field, Sawle scored one century in 35 First Class matches as a gritty left-handed opener for WA, during a career that yielded 1701 runs at 28.83.
His vast contribution as a WA selector and administrator, including a long period on the WACA Board and a brief time as its Chair, saw the Laurie Sawle Medal struck and awarded for the first time in 2000-01. This remains the most prestigious individual male award at WA Cricket. In March 2009, Sawle was inducted into the WA Cricket Gallery of Greats.
Even after his administrative career concluded, Sawle was a regular fixture at WACA Ground Sheffield Shield games, strolling back and forth between his two favourite viewing positions at square leg and behind the bowler's arm. A retired schoolteacher who former Australia captain Steve Waugh described as "a source of inspiration", Sawle's legacy will be remembered for years to come.
WA Cricket CEO Christina Matthews said: "Laurie Sawle was enormous to the fabric of cricket in Western Australia for decades."
"He was an incredibly talented and devoted administrator who was prepared to back himself and others in, and his passion for cricket never waned. Even years after his retirement, we would regularly see him at the WACA Ground cheering WA on." "The fact our highest individual men's award is named after him speaks volumes about the type of character he was, and the legacy he left."
"We were incredibly lucky to have him, and remain grateful for everything he achieved." "The WA Cricket community sends its thoughts to his three children Maryanne, Carmel and Mark and close friends in this difficult time." (ANI)
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