28 Sep 2016

Former Australian test cricketer Max Walker dies

4:48 pm on 28 September 2016

The former Australian Test cricketer Max Walker has died aged 68, after well-regarded careers as an international fast-bowler and colourful commentator.

He had been suffering from skin cancer for the past two years.

Walker made his Test debut in 1973 and took 138 wickets in 34 Tests, with his bizarre medium-pace bowling action earning him the nickname 'Tangles'.

Speed demons like Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson spearheaded Australia's attack, with the ambling Walker a reliable presence at the other end.

But he was no stranger to removing batsman, as evidenced by his career-best 8 for 143 against England at the MCG in 1975.

Former Australian international cricketer Max Walker

Former Australian international cricketer Max Walker Photo: Supplied

He also played 17 one-day internationals from 1974 to 1981, with his handlebar moustache and knock-about style making him a fan favourite.

"He was just a really down-to-earth, humorous guy. He was never lost for words. He was just good fun," former Test bowler Bob Massie told the ABC.

"When he got on a cricket field he was just so whole-hearted. [He] didn't have the greatest action in the world, but he was pretty effective."

The Tasmania native played 135 first-class games, plying his trade in the Sheffield Shield for Victoria and played 85 VFL games with Melbourne, even earning a Brownlow Medal vote in 1968.

"On behalf of everyone at Cricket Australia (CA) our deepest sympathies go out to Max's family, friends and all those in cricket who had the pleasure of dealing with him," CA chief executive James Sutherland said.

"He was a great character, with a big smile and positive approach to life. He will be sadly missed."

After retiring from the game, Walker had a stint with the ABC before making a name for himself on Channel Nine's Wide World Of Sports program.

He also surprisingly became a successful author as his book How To Hypnotise Chooks And Other Great Yarns becoming a national best-seller.

Walker ultimately wrote 14 books, selling over a million copies of other titles like How To Puzzle a Python and How To Kiss A Crocodile.

In 2011 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia "for service to cricket at a national and international level as a player and commentator, and to the community through a range of youth and social welfare organisations".

Among other philanthropic causes, Walker was a prominent face in the It's Crunch Time campaign, which aimed to encourage people to get screened for bowel cancer.

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