One of the true legends of the sport, Jeffrey Thompson or Jeffrey Robert Thomson was born on August 16, 1950, is a former Australian cricketer who redefined fast bowling when he was at his peak. Thomson had an unusual slingshot bowling action terrify the best in the world with his pace. In fact, his father Don bowled with the similar action. Years later one of his sons, Matt, replicated that action. Known as ‘Thommo’, he happens to be one of the most interesting and colourful characters of the game. He had a superb cutter and could seam and swing the ball at will. His bouncers were deadly and, at times, unplayable. Thompson played 51 Tests for Australia and got 200 wickets in them.
Thomson attended the Condell Park Primary School and took up cricket there. From talking to girls to surfing to terrorising opposition team’s batsmen — his partner in crime was pacer Len Pascoe, then known as Lenny Durtanovich. Pascoe later went on to play 14 Tests and 29 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) for Australia.
In the World Cup 1975, Thomson once again proved his lethalness and this time against the minnows — Sri Lanka. Sunil Wettimuny and Duleep Mendis had launched a counterattack and this only infuriated Thomson who hit both the batsmen all over the body — targeting boots and ribcages. He sent both the batsmen to hospital. Wettimuny, hit on the boot was hobbling around in pain and Thommo famously said him, “Look mate, it’s [foot] not broken. But if you face up to the next ball, it bloody well will be broken!” After the match, Australian captain Ian Chappell introduced him as ‘The Ambassador to Sri Lanka.’
Thomson is regarded by many as one the fastest bowler ever. In a fast bowling contest in 1978, he was pacier than Michael Holding and Imran Khan. Greg Chappell had in fact refused to bat against him. Timed using high-speed cameras in a Test in 1975, Thomson clocked 160.45 kmph. A year later, he clocked 160.58 kmph. Viv Richards, the best batsman of Thomson’s era, rates him as the fastest he has faced. Even Richie Benaud, in 2010, said that Thomson was the fastest bowler he had seen since England’s Frank Tyson.
His returns in ODIs 55 wickets in 50 matches were quite meager. Although Thompson believed that he bowled in the range of 180 km/h, his fastest recorded delivery is 160.5 km/h during a fast Test match in 1975-76.
In 2016, the CA inducted him into the Australian Hall of Fame.