The Players

Dave Gilbert

Dave Gilbert was a right-arm fast bowler for New South Wales, Gloucestershire and Tasmania.

He took 354 first class wickets at 32.39 with eleven 5wicket hauls and one 10 wicket match. He played in 14 ODIs for Australia and 9 Tests.

Like Murray, he was selected for the 1985 Ashes tour and made his Test debut in 6th Test at the Oval. Dave’s final Test was against India in 1986.

After his playing day were over he had a successful career in cricket adminstration including being CEO of NSW cricket.

Murray Bennett

Murray Bennett was a left-arm off spinner for St George, New South Wales and, just like Ian Chappell before him, Ramsbottom. He took 157 first class wickets at 30.92 and scored 1437 runs at 23.95. He played 3 Tests and 8 ODIs for Australia.

His first 2 Tests were against the West Indies and, like Aggers, he found inspiration when bowing to the great Viv Richards, taking his wicket with a memorable arm ball.

His was selected for the Ashes tour of 1985 which was blighted by a number of Australian players signing up for the Rebel Tour to South Africa. Murray played in the final Test of the series at the Oval.

Jonathan Agnew

Before Jonathan Agnew took the mic and assumed his role as the voice of BBC cricket, he was a fast bowler for Leicestershire and England.

He took 666 first class wickets at 29.25 and he played in three Tests and three ODIs for England. His Test debut was against the all-conquering West Indies side at the Oval in 1984 where he took the wickets of Gordon Greenidge and Viv Richards. His final Test for England came the following year, this time against Australia at Old Trafford where he opened the bowling with Ian Botham.

His best figures were 9-70 against Kent in 1985 just ahead of his one and only Ashes Test match.

Arnie Sidebottom

Arnie Sidebottom was born in Barnsley in 1954. Like the first two players on our list, Keith Slater and Ken Taylor, he was a dual sportsman but Arnie took it to another level, playing cricket for Yorkshire and football for Manchester United. One minute he’d be training with George Best, Dennis Law and Bobby Charlton, the next he would be taking the field at Headingley or Scarborough with Ray Illingworth and Geoffrey Boycott.

He took 596 first class wickets at 24.42, taking 5 wickets in an innings on 23 occasions and 10 in a match on 3 occasions. His best figures were 8-72 against Leicestershire in 1986. He played his one Test for England in the 3rd Test of the 1985 Ashes series.

Paul Parker

Paul Parker was a prolific run-getter for Sussex and Durham, scoring over 19,000 first class runs and 47 hundreds between 1976 and 1993.

He was instrumental in helping Sussex win the Gillette Cup in 1978, where he was the man of the match, scoring the winning runs in an innings of 62 not out. He scored a further 85 runs in the Nat West Trophy at Lord’s in 1986 as Sussex chased 243 to beat Lancashire.

His one Ashes Test came in the 6th and final game of the 1981 series.

Mick Malone

Mick Malone was a right-arm swing bowler from Western Australia. He played for Scarborough, WA, Haslingden and Lancashire in a long and distinguished career.

He had a superb season for WA in 1976-77, taking 40 wickets at an average of just 16.12, and helping his state side win the Sheffield Shield and Gillette Cup. In the latter he scored 47 not out with the bat to see WA over the line in the final.

This form earned him selection for the 1977 tour of England. He took a wicket with his first ball in England but had to wait until the 5th and final game of the Ashes series to make his Test debut. He had an excellent match, taking 5-63 in the first innings and 1-14 in the second. He also managed 46 with the bat. Following the tour, he joined Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket and never played Test cricket for Australia again.

But after that sparkling debut he could look back with pride at a Test bowling average of 12 and a batting average of 46.

Graham Barlow

Graham Barlow was an attacking left-handed batsman who played for Middlesex from 1969 – 1986. He scored 12,387 first class runs at an average of 35. He played 3 Tests and 6 ODIs for England between 1976 and 1977. His one Ashes Test was at Lord’s in 1977.

He made his ODI debut for England at Scarborough against the West Indies, scoring an unbeaten 80 as the rest of the side collapsed around him.

He earned selection for the 1976-77 tour of India and Sri Lanka, playing in the first two Tests against India and scoring a hundred in the unoffical Test against Sri Lanka. He was 12th man for the Centenary Test at the MCG in 1977.

He was then chosen for the first Test of the 1977 Ashes series at his home ground of Lord’s but could only manage 1 and 5 in a drawn match.

Tony Dell

Tony Dell, of Eastern Suburbs and Queensland, played his one Ashes Test in the 7th Test of the 1970-71 series, taking 5 wickets in the match and opening the bowling with Dennis Lillee, who was playing in his second Test.

Tony would go on to play one further Test for Australia, against New Zealand in 1973. In 41 first-class matches, he took 137 wickets at 26.70.

But it was a year in Vietnam before he started his first-class career that had the biggest impact on his life. Tony served in the Vietnam war from 1967-68, a victim of conscription lottery like thousands of other Australian men. His experiences during his tour were to have a profound effect on his mental health but it was only 40 years later that he was finally diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Following some incredible highs and some devastating lows, Tony was inspired by his diagnosis to form Stand Tall for PTS, the not for profit that strives to help other Vietnam veterans, serving military and first responders.

Tony is the only living Test cricketer to have served in a war and the only person to serve in Vietnam and play cricket for Australia.

Ken Eastwood

Ken Eastwood was a left-handed opening batsman for Footscray and Victoria. His first-class debut came in the 1959-60 season but he didn’t make his Test debut until the 7th Test of the 1970-71 Ashes.

He wasn’t even a regular in the Victoria side that season, but when he was finally recalled, following an injury to the Australian captain, Bill Lawry, he made up for lost time, scoring 201 not out against New South Wales in Sydney and a further 177 against the same opposition at the MCG. He scored 737 runs in total that season at an average of 122 with 3 centuries.

That put him in the running for Test selection and he was finally given the chance at the age of 35 in the 7th Test against England. Again, Bill Lawry was instrumental in his selection. Despite being one of the best batsmen in the side, the selectors decided it was time for a change of skipper. Ian Chappell took over the captaincy and Bill Lawry was unceremoniously dropped. Ken Eastwood took his place at the top of the order, but he couldn’t bring his Shied form to the Test arena, scoring 5 in the first innings and a duck in the second as Australia lost a tight game by 62 runs.

And that was his one and only Test appearance for Australia. But they could never take it away for him…or his 2 baggy green caps.

Roger Prideaux

Roger Prideaux was an opening batsman who made his first-class debut playing for Cambridge University against Surrey in 1958. The opening day was rained off, so he ended up playing golf with Ken Barrington.

Roger would go on to play for Kent and then, most notably, for Northants and later, Sussex. He formed a formidable opening pair with Colin Milburn while at Northants and he also captained the county from 1967 – 1970.

It was during this period that he made his Test debut for England in the 1968 Ashes. Roger’s chance came in the 4th Test of the series at Headingley. He scored 64 in the first innings, putting on 123 with John Edrich for the first wicket. Roger is the only living One Ashes Test Wonder to score a fifty in his only Ashes Test.

His excellent performance secured his place in the side for the final Test of the series at the Oval. But a bout of bronchitis meant he had to withdraw, which paved the way for Basil D’Oliveira to return to the side and thus started the sequence of events that created sporting and political history.

D’Oliveira’s omission and then subsequent inclusion in the touring party for South Africa brought the MCC’s dealings with South Africa to a head and eventually the tour was cancelled. Aside from a few exceptions, the sporting boycott of Apartheid South Africa would continue until the early 1990’s.

A tour of Ceylon and Pakistan was hastily put together in place of the trip to South Africa and Roger played in the first 2 Tests against Pakistan, top-scoring with 18 not out in the second Test. But this would prove to be his final Test match for England.

Roger scored 25,136 first class runs in his career with 41 hundreds.

Brian Taber

Brian Taber, of Gordon Cricket Club and New South Wales, played 16 Tests for Australia between 1966 and 1970.

A superb wicketkeeper, he made his debut behind the stumps against South Africa in 1966, taking 7 catches and a stumping in the match. He played all 5 tests in South Africa.

The first choice keeper, Barry Jarman, was unavailable for that tour but he returned for the Australian summer of 1966-7 and kept wicket in all 4 tests against India.

Brian was his regular understudy, including on the tour of England in 1968. Barry was injured in the second Test, which created the opportunity for Brian to make his Ashes debut in the third Test at Edgbaston. He took 2 catches and made 16 in the first innings as the match finished as a draw. Barry returned for the final 2 Tests. The series was drawn 1-1.

Brian’s next appearance in the Test side came against the West Indies in 1968-69. He played in the 5th and final Test of that series, taking 6 catches and making his best Test score of 48. Australia won the match and series comfortably.

Brian then toured India in 1969-70 and kept wicket in all of the Tests. Australia won the series 3-1 and it would turn out to be its last series win in India until 2004-5.

His Test career came full circle, as he made his final Test appearance on the tour of South Africa in 1970. Rodney Marsh took the gloves for the 1970-71 Ashes series in Australia which meant Brian’s game at Edgbaston in 1968 remained his only Ashes Test.

Pat Pocock

Pat Pocock is the most-capped cricketer on our one Ashes Test list, playing in 25 Tests for England between 1968 and 1985 and taking 67 wickets. A Surrey stalwart, he played in 554 first class matches, taking 1607 wickets, one fewer than his spin rival, John Emburey.

He made his Test debut in 1968 in the West Indies, playing in the third and fifth Tests as England secured an unlikely and dramatic 1-0 series win.

He returned to England for an Ashes summer and was selected for the first Test against Australia at Old Trafford. Despite taking 6-79 in the second innings and winning the bowler of the match award, he was dropped for the second Test and didn’t appear again in the series or against Australia again. Australia won the match comfortably with only D’Oliveira showing any resistance with a battling 87 not out in the second innings. And yet he too was discarded for the second Test at Lord’s.

His last tour with England was to India in 1984-85 where, bowling in tandem with Phil Edmonds, he helped England secure a famous 2-1 series victory.

He was involved in maybe the most dramatic conclusion to a County Championship match when playing for Surrey against Sussex in 1972. With Sussex cruising to victory, needing only 18 runs from the final 3 overs with 9 wickets in hand, Pat sparked a batting collapse that saw the game finish as a draw with Surrey only a wicket away from snatching an improbable victory. Pat took 7 wickets in only 11 balls.

David Sincock

David Sincock was a left-arm Chinaman bowler who played his one Ashes Test, and the last of his three Tests for Australia, at the SCG in January 1966. This was the third match of the series and David took 0-98 in the first innings. England won by an innings so he wasn’t required to bowl again.

David made his Test debut a year before, aged only 22, in a one-off Test against Pakistan, claiming 3-67 in the first innings and 1-102 in the second. He then toured the West Indies and made an appearance in the final match of the series, taking 2 wickets in each innings, including the prized wicket of Garfield Sobers. Sobers was impressed and he would write about it in his autobiography, Twenty Years at the Top:

‘I was bowled in the first innings by one of the most interesting bowlers I’ve ever played against, the slow left-arm Chinaman and googly bowler David Sincock. No one turned the ball more than Sincock, who was known in the team as ‘Evil Dick’. I had first encountered him in Adelaide on a previous trip to Australia. None of us could read his googly.

The ball fizzed through the air, and you had to try to see which way it was spinning. The delivery which bowled me in Trinidad pitched well outside my leg stump and hit off.  ‘What happened?’ I said, and wicketkeeper Wally Grout said: ‘Evil’s done it again!’

It wasn’t the only time David had flummoxed the West Indies’ great. He first encountered Sobers in 1961, when playing for Adelaide University against Prospect, and Sobers was out to the first ball that David delivered to him. He gave him the wrong-un, which pitched outside off-stump and clattered into Sobers’ leg-stump. Denis Brien, David’s second cousin, was keeping wicket and when he asked Sobers about the incident after the game, Sobers said he’d never seen a Chinaman’s wrong-un turn so much.

David originally hailed from Glenelg Cricket Club, the home of the Chappell brothers. On his sixteenth birthday, February 1st, David Sincock took 9-66 for Glenelg B versus Adelaide B. At the age of 19, in the summer of 1960-61, he demolished a strong New South Wales side at the Adelaide Oval in a sensational debut for South Australia, taking 6-52 in the first innings and 3-143 in the second. His wickets included Brian Booth, Richie Benaud and Ian Craig.

In the following summer of 1961-62, the South Australia side was bolstered by none other than Garfield Sobers. In February 1962, Sobers had his finest game for South Australia, scoring 251 and taking 9 wickets in the match. But South Australia had reason to thank Sincock in that game. In the first innings, he stuck around for 52* to bolster the score to 190 all out, Sobers falling for only 2 to Alan Davidson. Sincock also picked up 5 wickets in the match. Past and future foes had become united in success for South Australia. And in that 61-62 season Sincock managed 41 wickets to Sobers’ 35.

At the end of his Ashes’ season,  aged only 24, he suddenly retired from first class cricket. He moved  to Sydney to concentrate on his business career and played for Randwick and Northern District. His cricket expertise was acknowledged by Cricket NSW in 2003 when he was appointed General Manager Cricket, a role which included managing the NSW Sheffield Shield squad with State coach, Steve Rixon.

Eric Russell

Like Peter Allan, Eric Russell’s one and only Ashes Test was at Brisbane in December 1965. But despite a superb tour in which he scored 580 runs at 58, including 2 centuries, injury scuppered any chance he had of making an impression in the Test series.

His place in that opening Test was secured when he scored 110 against Peter Allan’s Queensland. But in the second innings a hand injury forced him to retire after making 45. Thankfully, he could shrug this off and take his place in the Ashes’ opener, but his injury woes were to continue. Whilst fielding, he split the webbing between his fingers and was packed off to hospital for stitches. He returned to the ground and with England struggling he came in to bat at number 11 to make a painful 0 not out.

He re-took his place in the MCC side later in the tour, scoring 101 against New South Wales on the eve of the 5th Test but it was not enough to earn a recall to the side. Instead, he had to settle for playing all 3 Tests against New Zealand immediately after the Australian leg of the tour. His top-score was 56 in the third Test.

He played 10 Tests in total for England between 1961 and 1967.

Peter Allan

Peter Allan played his one Ashes Test in December 1965 at the GABBA. In the lead-up to that opening game of the series, he was certainly doing his best to attract attention. In the first Sheffield Shield game of the season, he took 4-32 in the first innings for Queensland against New South Wales, including the Australian captain, Bobby Simpson, for a duck. But Peter clearly wasn’t satisfied with the impact he was having on the game: when New South Wales followed on, Peter steamed in again and promptly broke Bobby Simpson’s arm. The injury would mean Simpson would miss the first Test against England, with Brian Booth deputising as captain.

On the eve of the first Test, Peter played for Queensland against the MCC. He couldn’t stop fellow One Ashes Test Wonder, Eric Russell, from scoring a timely century, but he did manage to clean bowl the England captain, Mike Smith, and then had Boycott caught by wicketkeeper Wally Grout for a duck in the second innings.

Peter had done enough to secure selection for Brisbane. Australia batted first and made 443-6 declared, thanks to centuries from Bill Lawry and debutant, Doug Walters. While this was Peter’s only Test for Australia, Doug would go on to play in 74.

When it was time for England to bat, Peter took 2-58 in the first innings, again taking the wicket of Mike Smith and again having him clean-bowled. Wisden reports that England were, ‘unsettled by the leg spin of Philpott and the pace of Hawke and Allan.’ England succumbed to 280 all out and were made to follow on. Peter couldn’t add to his 2 Test wickets and England survived to secure a draw.

Peter was retained for the 2nd Test at Melbourne but only as twelfth man. He was then left out of the side for the third Test. But this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it allowed him to have his finest day as a cricketer. He took all 10 wickets against Victoria at the MCG in January 1966. An incredible moment that has only happened 3 times in Shield history. (Tim Wall in 1933 and Ian Brayshaw in 1967 are the 2 others.) Victoria was all out for 130 but recovered to chase down 387 in the second innings to win by 3 wickets.

Peter went wicketless in the second innings after his herculean efforts first time round, but he had done enough to win his place back in the Test side. Sadly, it wasn’t to be as Peter had split the bone in his ankle in the process of taking those 10 wickets against Victoria. He was out of the 4th Test and out of cricket for a full season.

A cruel end to his fledgling Test career, especially as you consider that the year before he had toured the West Indies with Australia but didn’t play a Test due to 2 bouts of tonsilitis.

Peter retired from first class cricket in 1969 and ended up on Hamilton Island performing marriage duties as a civil celebrant.

Fred Rumsey

Like Ken Taylor, Fred Rumsey played his one Ashes Test in July 1964. His apperance came in the 4th test at Old Trafford in a match where bat was completely dominant over ball. It remains the only time in Ashes history where both sides have scored over 600 in their first innings. Probably not the match you would choose to make your England debut but that was Fred’s lot.

Australia batted into day 3, which was when Fred picked up his 2 wickets – he had Veivers caught by Edrich and Wally Grout caught by Ted Dexter. He finished with figures of 2-99 – the only fronline bowler not to concede 100 runs. Bob Simpson top-scored for the Aussies with 311.

Fred did have the honour of taking the Australian captain’s wicket when playing for Somerset in May of that year. Unfortunately this was in the second innings when Simpson had already scored 125. Fred took 4-74 in the first innings as the Australians were bowled out for 278. He also put O’Neill ‘on his backside’ (Fred’s words) when bowling a bouncer, forcing Norm to retire injured. Despite these efforts by the quick left-armer, Someret lost the match by 172 runs.

Fred was dropped for the 5th and final Test of the series at The Oval. He returned to England colours the following summer, playing all three tests against New Zealand. He took 4 wickets before lunch at Lord’s and recorded his best Test bowling analysis of 4-25. His final Test came in the following series against South Africa, also in 1965. Despite taking 6 wickets, he didn’t make the 1965-66 Ashes tour, commenting in his book, ‘I cannot say that I was surprised; the wonders of the England Board of Selectors were long lost to me.’

Fred formed the Cricketers’ Association, which later became the Professional Cricketer’s Association, in 1967. The benefits to cricketers then and now were/ are manifold: improved pay, insurance, freedom of movement and help with out-of-season employment opportunities. After his playing career Fred ran the Barbados Cricket Festival for over 30 years.

Ken Taylor

1964 was the year Ken played his one and only Ashes Test but what should have been an annus mirabilis ended in disappointment.

Ken was at the top of his game that year. In the Roses match over Whit Bank Holiday in May, he scored 153 against Lancashire and put on 236 for the opening wicket with Boycott.

This could well have been the opening pair for the first Ashes test. Edrich was initially chosen to partner Boycott but he trod on a ball and Ken was summoned to Trent Bridge as cover. Unfortunately for him, Edrich only revealed the injury at the 11th hour and Ken had to settle for 12th man duties as Fred Titmus was thrust into a makeshift opening role.

In June, Ken lined up for Yorkshire against the Australians at Sheffield and played one of the defining innings of his career.

Australia declared its first innings on 295, Norm O’Neill scoring 134 before being LBW to Trueman. Yorkshire collapsed to 113 in reply, Rex Sellers taking 5-36 with his leg-breaks. Ken made 25 and was soon out to bat again as Yorkshire followed on. Wisden picks up the action:

‘By the end of the second day Taylor had scored 81 and at the beginning of the third he made sure that Sellers would not be a menace a second time. With five scoring strokes off him – three 4’s, one 6 and a single – he reached his century and when finally out after five hours, twenty-five minutes, had hit four 6’s and seventeen 4’s. His score of 160 fell only seven short of the highest by a Yorkshire player for his county against the Australians – 167 by J.T. Brown in 1899.’

The game ended in a draw but it put Ken in the mind of the selectors once more and when Cowdrey’s back began to trouble him ahead of the third test, Ken was called to Headingley as cover. Cowdrey couldn’t recover in time and Ken was picked to play. But at six rather than his customary opening position. As Stephen Chalke says in the podcast and in his biography of Ken, this put him at a distinct disadvantage. Here’s what Ken said of the situation:

‘It’s like playing a left-winger at full-back. You’re not geared mentally to hanging about, waiting for wickets to fall. There’s too much time to worry. The whole thing was a bit of a shock. I’d turned up on the morning, thinking that I’d be taking out the drinks.’

The match continued in a similar chaotic fashion for Ken and England. He injured his middle finger batting in the first innings. He soldiered on but edged Hawke to keeper Grout for only 9. Second time around he came in when England were five down and ahead by only 48. He tried to cut the off-spinner Veivers and was bowled for 15. In a summer that had promised so much it was a cruel way to end his international career.

Ken was not only a fine cricketer. He played football for Huddersfield Town and was a talented artist, winning a place at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art. The podcast goes into further detail about how he managed these three disciplines. Examples of his art are shown here – portraits of Yorkshire legends, Brian Close and Fred Trueman.

Keith Slater

Keith played his one Ashes test at the SCG in January 1959, the third match of the series. He was also 12th man for the 2nd and 4th tests.

After England slipped to 23 for 2 on the first morning of that third test, this is how the 1960 Wisden picks up the action, ‘England were once more in trouble with the dismissal of May, Graveney and Dexter in two overs from Slater, the Australian newcomer, and one from Benaud. May was brilliantly caught at cover, Graveney edged a catch to slip and Dexter misjudged the ball off the pitch…Slater began with his medium-pace deliveries but changed after five balls of his second over to spin. His first two wickets in Test cricket cost him only four runs in four overs.’

Keith then had Roy Swetman dropped at leg-slip just after lunch. He finished with figures of 2-40 from 14 overs in the first innings and 0-61 from 18 in the second. He was never dismissed in a Test match – finishing on 1 not out in the first innings.

Slater had already taken a liking to the English batsmen in the first match of the tour, when playing for Western Australia against the MCC in October 1958. Wisden describes it thus, ‘Slater, bowling medium-fast instead of his first innings style of off-spin, moved the ball disturbingly and in fourteen balls without cost, disposed of Milton and May – out to successive deliveries – and Graveney. Four wickets cost him at one point only eight runs.’ Find out what happened to the hat-trick ball in episode 1 of the podcast.

Keith’s season at Heywood Cricket Club is remembered here:

The page from the 1960 Wisden (see Gallery section) shows the final league table plus the other professionals plying their trade in the Lancashire Leagues in 1959. Keith mentions Sobers and Cec Pepper in the podcast. Both had outstanding seasons – Sobers averaging 90 with the bat and 13 with the ball. Keith couldn’t quite match those stats, or Pepper’s bowling average of 9.12, but 56 wickets at 17 is still an excellent return.

All of their deeds were overshadowed by the death of Collie Smith during a road accident. Keith and his wife, Val remember the tragedy well. Sobers was driving Smith and Tom Dewdney from Lancashire to London for a charity match. They left late and drove through the night.

The following is taken from Sobers’ 1988 book, Sobers: Twenty Years at the Top, ‘I do not remember much about the incident. But at the inquest on Collie a few weeks later, it was said that I was driving on the A34 near Stone in Staffordshire when my vehicle ran into a ten-ton cattle-truck. The time of the collision was 4.45am.’

‘I remember being blinded by headlights as I approached a bend and was sure my car was on the right side of the road. The impact left us stunned, but none of us lost consciousness. Collie did not appear to be in too bad shape. ‘Don’t worry about me. Look after the big fellow,’ he said, referring to Tom Dewdney. We were taken to a hostpital in Stone. I had a cut eye and a severed nerve in a finger on my left hand which took some time to mend. I was also suffering from shock. When I asked about Collie, the kind nurses and doctors said: ‘Dont’ worry, he coming along fine.’ I learned that his spinal cord was damaged. Tom was recovering. Three days later Collie died.’

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