|Full name||Michael Jonathon Slater|
21 February 1970 |
Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia
|Bowling style||Right arm medium|
|Test debut (cap 356)||3 June 1993 v England|
|Last Test||20 August 2001 v England|
|ODI debut (cap 114)||9 December 1993 v South Africa|
|Last ODI||24 May 1997 v England|
|Domestic team information|
|1991–2004||New South Wales|
|Source: Cricinfo, 7 December 2009|
Michael Jonathon Slater (born 21 February 1970) is an Australian television presenter and former professional cricketer who played in 74 Tests and 42 ODIs for the Australian cricket team from 1993 to 2001. He subsequently became a cricket commentator and also worked on rugby league coverage with The Footy Show. He was nicknamed "Slats".
The son of Peter and Carole, Slater was born in the New South Wales rural city Wagga Wagga on 21 February 1970 after his parents and two elder siblings (Julian and Tracey) had emigrated from the north-eastern coast of England in 1966. They originally migrated to Launceston, Tasmania, Australia by boat, after deciding against moving to Canada. In Launceston, Slater's father taught agriculture and science at high school, as he had done since graduating from college. After three years in Launceston, the Slaters moved to Wagga Wagga, and Peter became a lecturer in agriculture at what is now known as the Charles Sturt University. Slater lived in Wagga Wagga for his entire childhood, eventually leaving with only fond memories. He later wrote: "Wagga Wagga was a great place to grow up, for many reasons. It was a good size — it had a population of around 50,000 when we moved there — and it was in the country, with a great Australian climate. My family was always involved in sport, so from an early age it just seemed natural for me to play any game that was on offer."
When still in primary school and aged 11, Slater was selected in the New South Wales Primary School Sports Association cricket and hockey teams, something he described as "a very big thing" and "totally unexpected". A left-inner (an attacking player who helps out defensively), he also made the state hockey team at Under–12 level in 1981, before going on to later be selected in the Under–13, –15 and –17 teams. Slater's mother unexpectedly left the family in 1983, when Michael was just 12 years old. He later wrote about the tough personal times that followed.
After his mother left for good, Slater's education standards slipped, with sport becoming the "only thing [he] could focus on properly". School bullying accentuated his academic difficulties in Years 9 and 10, and he once ran home after it was suggested amongst fellow pupils that some bullies "were planning to get [him] after school". As cricket and hockey began to overlap in his early teenage years, Slater slowly turned the majority of his sporting appetite towards cricket. He joined an inner-western Sydney Under–16 side over the Christmas holidays. Despite not being fond of Sydney, Slater knew that he would have to move to the metropolis if he wanted to further develop his cricketing career. After topping the batting averages in the Under–17s in the following season, Slater was subsequently chosen as captain for the New South Wales Under—16 team. The carnival was not a personal success for the captain; however, he recalls that his team performed "well".
A self-inflicted accident at school when he was seventeen saw Slater hurt his Achilles tendon with a rock. He played a couple of hockey games following the accident, but had to limp off the field and have consequent surgery in the lead-up to the Under–17 national cricket carnival. Soon after, Slater was informed that, because of his injury, his "dream of playing cricket for Australia was over". After an operation, though, he surprisingly returned to cricket and was selected in the Under–19 state team for the national championships in Brisbane. After an injury to the captain, Slater once again captained his state, although he and his team under-performed. He returned as vice-captain the following year for the Under–19 carnival in Canberra, and scored a century in the opening match. In a victorious final against Victoria, Slater scored another century, becoming one of the leading run-scorers in the series.
Generally known for his swashbuckling style of play and front-foot pulls, Slater went on to open the batting with success in Test cricket, scoring 5,312 runs and 14 centuries at an average of 42; however his One Day International career was less potent, averaging a lowly 24.07. Throughout his career, Slater was infamous for his susceptibility to the "nervous nineties", and although he had a conversion rate of 65 per cent in turning half-centuries into nineties, he took those nineties to centuries only forty per cent of the time.
He was a product of the AIS Australian Cricket Academy (1989) before appearing for New South Wales in the 1991/92 Sheffield Shield season. He made quick progress to the Australian Test team, and was selected for the Ashes tour of England in 1993, when he was just 23 years of age, narrowly beating Queenslander Matthew Hayden to the opening berth alongside Mark Taylor, who also grew up in Wagga Wagga. In his debut match, he scored a half-century, before compiling his maiden century in the following Test at Lords. He continued his good form into the subsequent home series against New Zealand in 1993–94, netting 305 runs at an average of 76.25. In the 1994–95 return Ashes series in Australia, the right-hander was the leading run-scorer in the series with 623. The following season saw Slater notch his first double-century, against Sri Lanka at the WACA in Perth.
His career fell apart during 2001, and against the backdrop of a marriage breakdown, he showed increased emotion on the field. During a Test match against India in Mumbai, Slater claimed to have taken a diving catch off a mistimed pull-shot by Indian batsman Rahul Dravid. Both Dravid and the umpire Srinivas Venkataraghavan were unconvinced, and Dravid stood his ground. Slater was incensed and angrily confronted both Venkataraghavan and Dravid, shouting at their faces from a distance of less than 30 cm. Television replays showed that it was unlikely that Slater had cleanly caught the ball. Slater was then fined and narrowly evaded a ban for speaking out about the handling of the incident by cricket authorities.
Slater received scant sympathy from his national team-mates in the cauldron-like atmosphere of Australian state cricket. During one match of this period, Shane Warne and Darren Berry of Victoria decided to sledge Slater by suggesting that his temper was like a time-bomb. When Slater came out to bat, Warne and Berry began saying "tick... tock... tick... tock" alternately. After several overs, Slater got impatient and holed out to deep midwicket. As he trudged off, he glared at Warne and Berry, who said in unison "Kaboom!". During the 2001 Ashes tour, Slater was dropped from the team, apparently due to missing a training session. However, then-captain Steve Waugh has since admitted that Slater was dropped so that he could properly devote his focus to his marital problems. Justin Langer replaced Slater, and after making three consecutive centuries, cemented his position as Australia's new opener, subsequently ending Slater's international career.
Slater later admitted in a candid interview on talk show Enough Rope with Andrew Denton that a lot of his rash behaviour at this time, which included bouts of severe drinking, suicidal thoughts, lashing out at the media and paparazzi, getting tattoos (Slater had the number 356 tattooed on himself under the mistaken impression this was his Test cap number - in fact, Brendon Julian was the 356th player to represent Australia; Slater was number 357) and buying a red Ferrari (again, with the license plate number MS 356) was directly attributable to him suffering from bipolar disorder and a debilitating back condition (ankylosing spondylitis) which left him doubting if he would ever walk freely again, along with false allegations that he was a cocaine addict and had illegitimately fathered the child of Australian teammate Adam Gilchrist and his wife Mel.
After commentating for Channel 4 in the United Kingdom during the 2005 Ashes series, he joined Nine's Wide World of Sports cricket commentary team in January 2006, in a position he still holds. Slater appeared as a contestant on the Australian version of Torvill and Dean's Dancing on Ice, becoming the 4th contestant to be eliminated. He later appeared as a reporter on Channel Nine's health and lifestyle programme, What's Good For You?.
Michael remained Sunday sports presenter for Weekend Today until 2010.
Slater is a regular contributor to the Triple M Sydney sports panel program "Dead Set Legends", and is the replacement co-host of Richard Freedman on Sky Sports Radio's Big Sport Breakfast with Terry Kennedy.
- Slater and Apter (2005), p. ix.
- Slater and Apter (2005), p. 9–10.
- Slater and Apter (2005), p. 10.
- Slater and Apter (2005), p. 18.
- Slater and Apter (2005), p. 22–23.
- Slater and Apter (2005), p. 26–29.
- Slater and Apter (2005), p. 30.
- Slater and Apter (2005), p. 31.
- Slater and Apter (2005), p. 34–35.
- Zaltzman, Andy. "Unpredictability." Cricinfo, 6 April 2009.
- [dead link]
- Presenters: Andrew Denton (14 March 2005). "Michael Slater". Enough Rope with Andrew Denton. 30 minutes in. ABC Television. http://www.abc.net.au/tv/enoughrope/transcripts/s1323968.htm.
- Cricinfo profile - Michael Slater
- Ninemsn profile - Michael Slater
- Howstat player overview - Michael Slater
- Dead Set Legends - Michael Slater
February 2009 – November 2010
|Australia's Greatest Athlete
Host (with Andrew Voss)
Mark Beretta and Tom Williams