Neil Harvey statue unveiled at MCG
Jan 31, 2014
Australian cricket great Neil Harvey joined a distinguished group of athletes today when he unveiled his statue outside the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) as part of the Australia Post Avenue of Legends series.
Harvey was watched on by his family, friends and former cricket teammates, including Lindsay Kline, Colin McDonald and Ian Meckiff, as he revealed the one-and-a-half-times life size bronzed sculpture of himself as a young Australian cricketer.
One of those teammates, former Australian captain Bill Lawry, paid tribute to the left-handed batsman’s remarkable career at the ceremony before helping Harvey to unveil his statue.
“Neil Harvey was the best captain I ever played under,” said Lawry. “He was such a natural talent... He was a phenomenal fielder with a great arm and, as a batsman, he was something different. He was so quick on his feet and so neat... That’s the way he played his cricket. It was an honour to play with him.”
Harvey is regarded as one of the finest batsmen to have played for Australia. At the tender age of 19, the left-hander made his Test debut during Bradman’s “Invincibles” tour of England in 1948, scoring six centuries in his first 13 Test innings at an average of more than 100.
In 79 Tests he scored 6149 runs at 48.41 with 21 centuries. He is still the youngest player to score a Test century for Australia.
Harvey also averaged 50.93 during a 306-game first-class career for Victoria, New South Wales and Australia between 1946 and 1963. He then served as a national selector for 12 years after his retirement.
In 2000 he was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame and was also selected in the Australian Cricket Board Test Team of the 20th Century.
“This is a huge unexpected honour,” said Neil Harvey. “It’s a little bit hard to comprehend… It truly is the finale for my cricketing career… I’m so thankful to the MCC for selecting me for this great honour. It will be forever remembered by all my family here today.”
MCC president and former Australian Test batsman, Paul Sheahan, said it was appropriate that Harvey should have a permanent home at the MCG.
“Harvey was a supremely gifted and electrifying batsman and a remarkably athletic fieldsman for his time,” said Sheahan. “He is an eminently worthy addition to the Australia Post Avenue of Legends series.”
The statue by sculptor Lis Johnson is the fourth commissioned by the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) as part of the Australia Post Avenue of Legends series. Harvey joins fellow cricketer Shane Warne, six-time Melbourne Football Club premiership coach Norm Smith and champion Essendon full-forward John Coleman in the avenue, situated in Yarra Park outside Gate 2 at the MCG.
“We’re delighted that Neil Harvey has been inducted into the Australia Post Avenue of Legends,” said Australia Post Managing Director and CEO Ahmed Fahour.
“He served Victoria, New South Wales and Australia with great distinction throughout a first-class career spanning almost two decades.”
About Australia Post Avenue of Legends
The Australia Post Avenue of Legends will see a minimum of five statues placed in Yarra Park, extending from the MCC members entrance up an avenue towards Wellington Parade.
Selection criteria for the Australia Post Avenue of Legends dictates candidates must be Australian, renowned for their sportsmanship and that they or their sport played is connected with the MCG.
Statues at the Melbourne Cricket Ground
Australia Post Avenue of Legends (2011-2014)
• Shane Warne (Cricket)
• Norm Smith (Australian Football)
• John Coleman (Australian Football)
• Neil Harvey (Cricket)
Tattersall’s Parade of Champions (2003-2006)
• Sir Donald Bradman, Keith Miller, Bill Ponsford, Dennis Lillee
• Ron Barassi, Leigh Matthews, Dick Reynolds, Haydn Bunton
• Shirley Strickland, Betty Cuthbert.