‘WACA Jack’ Gets Cricket Ground Ready For Ashes Test: Next weeks’ Ashes test will be the last to be held at Perth’s traditional home of cricket.
John Lewis, who was given his more catchy nickname by WA fast bowling great Dennis Lillee, has been a WACA Ground staple for almost 40 years with his jobs varying from “general fixer-upper”, groundsman and assistant pitch curator to cultivating his beloved roses.
But as the WACA prepares for its final Ashes battle tomorrow week before a move to Perth Stadium, the 71-year-old admits his tenure is also nearing an end. Unlike most Victorians who revere the MCG, his adopted State’s ground is his only love.
“To me it’s home … well, my second home anyway,” Mr Lewis said. “It may as well be because the only time I’m not here is when I’m home sleepin’. To be here for so long, this ground means everything to me, mate, it really does. It’s going to be hard to walk away, mate, I can tell ya.”
Mr Lewis, a former roof carpenter and truck driver who survived a heart attack in 2015, started work at the WACA on June 19, 1978.
“At 8am,” he said proudly.
He laughed as he recalled once heading out to the wicket to remove a broken stump with a hammer and a screwdriver, only to find English Test batsman Derek Randall unsuccessfully trying to loosen it pouring cordial down the stump hole.
Mr Lewis still has his part of the stump at home. But not all of his tasks were a joy. “There were 1287 old garden chairs which were all multiple colours,” he said.
“Every year they had to be shaved back and repainted with all new boards put on. It would take nearly the whole of winter to fix them up.”
And there was only a brief pause when asked what he could buy if he had a dollar for every time he had mowed the WACA lawn. “Probably the Taj Mahal,” Mr Lewis said with his trademark cheeky grin.
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