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Former cricketer Max Walker dies

Australian cricket great Max Walker has died, aged 68
Australian cricket great Max Walker has died, aged 68
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Max Walker was larger than life. And his death proved it.

Tributes far and wide for the universally-loved Australian cricketer, who has died aged 68, carried a common theme.

Everybody's mate, who will be sadly missed.

Walker was a Test cricketer. A VFL player. Best-selling author. Admired commentator. Community servant.

But as good as he was in all those fields, the man known as Tangles for his unusual bowling action was an even better bloke, say those that knew him best.

"Tangles was one of the great fellows," former Australian captain Greg Chappell said.

"A big loveable bear of a man who parlayed his talent, first as a footballer turned cricketer, and then with his bonhomie and ability to tell a good yarn, to set himself up for a wonderful career after cricket.

"He'd be the first to tell you it was a pretty good result for someone who trained as an architect but never really designed anything apart from what he would describe as a 'few chicken coops'.

"He was a big man with a big heart, very likeable, and a lot of fun to play cricket with."

Australia's current coach Darren Lehmann described Walker as "a larger than life character who was a true legend of the game".

"He was charismatic and loved by all who came in contact with him," Lehmann said.

Nine Network chief executive officer Hugh Marks said Walker was "a big, cuddly colourful bloke whom everyone really liked - his opponents just as much as the rest of us".

Walker played 38 Tests and 17 one-day internationals for Australia between 1972 and 1977, and also reached the top-level of Australian Rules football, playing 85 senior VFL games for Melbourne.

The Tasmanian-born athlete became a renowned author - 14 books, half of which were number one best-sellers - after his sporting career and was also a popular commentator for the Nine Network.

Walker was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2011 for his services to cricket as a player and commentator, and also to social organisations.

Walker believed he got the gong because he always said yes - yes to bowling into the wind for Australia; yes to holding down an Australian Rules defensive post for Melbourne; yes to numerous community organisations who asked for help.

"Maybe the recognition is a result of saying yes more times than no, which in itself is a nice place to be," Walker told AAP at the time.

He revelled in using his exalted status to help others.

"You have an ability to open a door, make a phone call, create an idea or sow a seed for something to happen perhaps quicker than if you went through the normal gatekeepers and channels to help," he said.

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