Brendon Julian: 17 facts about the Australian all-rounder

Brendon Paul Julian, born August 10, 1970, is a former Australian cricketer who was left-arm pacer and dangerous hard-hitting lower order batsman. Suvajit Mustafi points out 16 interesting facts about the all-rounder who could have achieved more with his talent and skill-set.

1.  Born in New Zealand: Julian was born in the city of Hamilton in New Zealand, but moved with his family to Port Hedland in far-north Western Australia when he was seven. In an interview, he once said, “It was a huge shock moving from the green grass of New Zealand to the red dust of Port Hedland.”

2.  Scholarship: Julian studied in a boarding school in Perth and started playing cricket there. He was an AIS Australian Cricket Academy scholarship holder in 1989. In early 1990, he made his First-Class debut for Western Australia (WA).

3.  Explosive and entertaining: By the time Julian retired from the sport, he was recognised as Western Australia’s most explosive and entertaining cricketer. Built at six foot five, he was dangerous with his left-arm pace. And with the willow, he was capable of clearing the biggest of the grounds. Very early on, he was tipped to be Australia’s premier all-rounder.

4.  Good looks: Tall, tanned and a good speaker, Julian is considered to be one of the best-looking men from the cricket fraternity.

5.  Test debut: Usually a player knows if he is playing or not at least on the eve of the Test, but Julian’s case was different. He learnt about his debut just minutes before the toss of the 1993 Ashes Manchester Test when captain Allan Border informed him. Recalling the incident in an interview with Herald Sun, Julian said, “He [Border] put his jacket on, he put his cap on, and he walked past me and Tim May. They were trying to work out who was going to play and he walked past and he said ‘Oh BJ, you play’ and he walked out.” Prior to the tour, he had not met the likes of Border and Craig McDermott, and he recalls the experience as “very encouraging”.

6.  Ball of the Century: Julian earned his Baggy Green in the Manchester Ashes Test of 1993. Though he failed to score in the Test, he picked up three wickets (Alec Stewart and Phil DeFreitas twice). Australia won the match by 179 runs, but everything else in the Test was overshadowed by Shane Warne’s brilliance. It was Warne’s first Test in England and off his very first ball, he got one to turn square to outfox Mike Gatting. The ball is popularly dubbed as “the ball of the century”. Julian, fielding at mid-off got a good view of that. In an article in ESPNCricinfo, he recalled, “Initially Mike Gatting and a lot of our guys, apart from Ian Healy, didn’t think he was bowled. Gatting stood around, and I started to run in because Heals [Healy] was going off. They had a big screen at the ground and we watched the replay. ‘Oh my God, it had turned, bit, done everything.’ There was a lot of hype and expectation on Warne and he lived up to it.”

7.  Match-saving feat: In the Nottingham Test of 1993, Julian opened the bowling and managed only two wickets in the game and managed only five runs in the first innings. Chasing 371 to win, Australia were reduced to 115 for six when Julian came out to bat. Along with Steve Waugh, Julian stitched an unbeaten 87-run stand spending more than two hours at the crease to help Australia save the Test. Julian scored 56 not out and brought up the landmark with a six. Recalling those tense moments, Julian said later, “I hit a six to bring up my fifty, and Stephen [Waugh] said: ‘If you play that shot again AB [Allan Border] will murder you.’ Australia later went on to win the series 4-0.

8.  The scary Merv Hughes: Merv Hughes’ intimidating aura and moustache combined with his bouncers can scare the hell out of the strongest hearts and Julian was only a 22-year-old kid in his first tour. Julian described his experience with Hughes and fellow paceman McDermott as “fantastic”, but there was a scary part to it. In a report from ESPNCricinfo, he said, “Merv could be pretty scary, especially when he ordered room service late at night because I’d have to stay up with him. They were small rooms in England and he was messy.”

9.  Crucial role in the historic West Indies tour of 1995: In 1995, when Australia toured West Indies, they beat the home side 2-1. It was the first time in 15 years that West Indies had lost a Test series and their No.1 ranking. In absence of McDermott and Damien Fleming, Julian was entrusted with the new-ball responsibility and he did a good job. Though he only picked nine wickets in the four-Test match series, he averaged an impressive 26.22.

10.  Sheffield Shield hero: In Sheffield Shield final of 1998, Julian picked up six-wickets and smashed 124 from only 136 balls to help Western Australia win the championship against Tasmania by seven wickets. Julian was the Man-of-the-Match. A year later, Julian pulled off another stunning display to help Western Australia to a title win. He scored a breezy 84 and picked up two wickets as his side lifted the shield for the second consecutive time.

11.  World Cup win: Julian was a part of the Australian squad that won the 1999 World Cup in England. Though he played only two games with little success, he was a part of the historic moment at Lord’s when Steve Waugh raised the trophy.

12.  Travel presenter with ‘Getaway’: Julian retired in 2001 and his passion for travelling saw him landing up in a role as a presenter for Channel Nine’s travel programme Getaway, Australia’s longest running travel and lifestyle programme. He had once said, “So many international cricketers travel the world without actually seeing much. All they see is the hotel rooms, the grounds and the functions. I love exploring the world with Getaway.”

13.  Cricket presenter: He is now a cricket presenter with Fox Sports and is seen commentating in international as well as Big Bash League (BBL) matches. He also hosts cricket shows giving his expert opinions. He loves the sport and claims commentating is the next best thing to playing.

14.  Acting: Julian has also tried his hand in acting. He made a cameo as a newsreader in the Australian drama-miniseries, ‘Howzat! Kerry Packer’s War’.

15.  Gaffe

Earlier this year, during the presentation ceremony of the Frank Worrell Trophy, Julian made an unfortunate gaffe when he pronounced “The Sir Frank Worrell Trophy” as “The Sir Wank Forrell Trophy”. He was pilloried in the online space because of this.

16.  Family man: Julian has built a brilliant swank property in Bronte, a beachside suburb of Sydney. The Sydney Morning Heard describes it as, “The architecturally-designed property, with infinity-edge pool, cricket pitch, four-car garage, guest wing and panoramic views, is an impressive sight.” He lives there with his wife Suzanne and two daughters — Jade (8) and Sienna (6).

17. Supporting players during ACA-CA dispute: The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) and Cricket Australia (CA) dispute regarding contracts had left several Australian cricket stars unemployed. The series of events took an ugly turn in 2017 and threatened the upcoming Ashes as well. Before the issue got sorted, Julian stood by the side of players and slammed CA for the same.

Criticising the Australian cricket’s governing body, Julian told Fox Sports News, “One of the big things that surprised me is that all of a sudden there is urgency now. I think James Sutherland should have been involved in these negotiations in the early stages and stayed with it.

“Once he handed it down to (CA chief negotiator) Mr (Kevin) Roberts, it slowed down a bit and then the players suddenly became out of contract … all of a sudden there is a tour happening and it is urgent. That’s the annoying thing from the players’ point of view that the discussions weren’t with the CEO from the start. It’s been one of the big issues. I think Cricket Australia has gone into arbitration because it may suit them better. I think they have got legal advice.

“When you start talking about $30m going to grassroots cricket and that is the ‘devil in the detail’, what does that mean? No one really knows.”

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sportsmarketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)