NEARLY forty years ago, Andrew Johns’ knowledge of the touring English cricket team earned him a pair of signed wicketkeeping gloves.
On Monday, he gifted those gloves back to the son of their original owner - current England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow.
Johns said travelling from Horsham to Adelaide every January was a yearly tradition for his family when he was growing up.
“We went down to Westlake Shopping centre where the English team were on the 1978-79 Ashes tour and met all the players,” he said. “They had a quiz for the kids and were giving away balls, gloves and other stuff as well.”
When organisers asked the children who was England’s reserves wicketkeeper, Johns’ hand shot up before he correctly answered David Bairstow.
“They gave me the pair of gloves, he signed them and had a bit of a chat,” Johns said. “I mucked around with them a little bit because I was only about 13 but since then they’ve just been sitting in a box in the wardrobe for 39 years.”
When Johns saw that Jonny was starting to play for England, he thought it would be nice gesture to return the gloves after David died in 1998.
The perfect opportunity to do that arrived when the English cricketers arrived in Adelaide, where Johns now lives, for the second test of this summer’s Ashes series.
Johns sent a message with a photo of the gloves to Jonny on Instagram but half expected not to hear back. But by the next morning, there was a reply waiting for him. The message said that Johnny would love to meet with him.
“I asked him how he saw the message among the many he received and he told me he doesn’t normally check them but for some reason this time he had,” Johns said.
Johns went to the team’s hotel where he handed over the gloves before the pair talked for half an hour on a variety of topics.
“He told me doesn’t have much memorabilia from his dad’s career,” Johns said. “Apparently he’s just moved house and had some of his worn gloves mounted, so he wants to put them next to them. They’re certainly better of there than in my wardrobe.”
Johns said the conversation became emotional at different points - including when Jonny asked him about his family.
“I told him that I’d lost my dad, Don, in June,” he said.
“I then told him that if someone had something of my dad’s that was of any value, I’d want it - so I thought he would want the gloves.”