A HISTORY OF BANKSTOWN PLAYERS : Mick’s Musings
Grahame Thomas had the honour of being the first Bankstown player to represent Australia in Test cricket. He was a magnificent hooker of the ball, loved the straight drive and was very speedy between the wickets. Grahame formed a dynamic opening partnership with Bankstown Legend Dion Bourne and together they tore opposing bowlers apart. The scourge of fast bowlers and an absolute delight for spectators. Grahame also teamed with Alan Kelly for a record 246 run stand vs Paddington. Kelly sensibly turned the strike over to the rampaging Thomas who took full advantage. One fine day at Memorial Oval Dion and Grahame hammered the Cumberland attack which contained a youthful Ritchie Benaud. Grahame pounded 143 that day and the leggie must have been impressed as years later he said that Thomas had played some of the most brilliant innings he had ever seen. Dennis Compton described the Bankstown boy as the best Number 3 since Bradman. High praise indeed. The Bourne /Thomas opening stands are staggering. 138 vs N.D, 197. vs Sydney Uni, 156 vs Cumberland, unfinished 128 vs Waverley 112 against Paddington plus 105 vs Norths. In those days every team had a wrist spinner and a finger spinner so batsmen certainly were used to facing all types of slow bowling. Grahame was a magnificent fieldsman and excellent baseballer who had lightning reflexes. He possessed a very safe pair of hands and often caught batsmen short with his powerful arm. Grahame showed his versatility when he kept wickets for NSW and performed admirably. He was up against some fine Aussie Test players in his era including Bob Simpson, Norm O’Neill, Peter Burge, Neil Harvey and Ken Mackay. As a result his Test matches were limited to eight but contained three scores of 50 plus. His top score was 61 against the West Indies at Port of Spain in 64-65.For N.S.W he plundered just short of 4,000 runs including a memorable 229 in searing heat vs Victoria. He compiled 189 of a record 332 run stand with Neil Marks against the Redbacks. He also joined with his old mate Ritchie Benaud in another stellar stand of 255 with G.T.an unconquered 119. When he was promoted to open the batting for N.S.W. in 1963-64 with Bob Simpson they amassed 308 and Grahame plundered 127. He was honoured with Life Membership of N.S.W. Cricket Association in 2011. and was extremely grateful to the Bulldogs with the honour they bestowed on him by the naming of the Grahame Thomas Oval. He made the comment that very, very few people get a ground named after them so it was a wonderful privilege. It is doubtful if any Bankstown cricketer has had a more impressive debut season than Grahame at the tender age of 15. He amassed 478 runs in Green Shield with an imposing average of 68.2, and forced his way into the Metropolitan side. His 98 versus Balmain was a real eye catcher in Poidevin-Gray. G.T. played one fourth grade game before elevation to thirds and went on a run spree with 56,79,44,71,78 and 37. Up to seconds he again showed his class and despite his youth looked confident and full of class. The run machine finished with an amazing 1287 runs for the season at an average of 47. What a superb debut season!! Grahame was a star baseballer who played Claxton Shield for N.S.W. and also represented Australia. In 60-61 and 61-62 he played an integral role in helping the Blues win the prestigious Sheffield Shield. Grahame plundered 15 centuries in first grade which was a club record at the time. Ron Briggs a N.S.W opening bat of great stature himself said that he delighted in watching the way Grahame carved up opposing attacks. Thomas played a 100 first class games and totalled 5726 runs. For Bankstown he hammered 5182 runs with 4244 in the top grade. Alas G.T. retired far too early at just 27 because he needed to concentrate on his printing business, but his record speaks for itself. Countless cricket fans enjoyed his devastating approach to batting and he was a wonderful crowd pleaser.