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CRICKET (Centenary History)

CRICKET (Centenary History)

See Also CRICKET (Sport)

The following text is an excerpt from the Centenary History of the Geelong College published in 1961:

Chapter 13

'IN THE FIRST YEARS after the College's foundation in 1861, cricket seems to have been a haphazard business. It is often not mentioned at all in reports. Good reasons were the scarcity of ovals, wickets and coaches and the lack of any organized inter-school competition or regular practice games. Though a list of captains exists from 1865, the first authentic match record tells simply that in 1868 the College played a Highton eleven and won; that same year a combined College and Grammar School team was defeated by the Corio Club Seconds. In 1873, two years after the move to Newtown Hill, a turf wicket was put-down near where the eastern wickets are now situated on the main oval. The playing area ended on the line of the present match wicket and. since the field did not extend so close to Talbot Street as it does today, it was uncomfortably small.

From 1876-77, players and results are known. The one fixed engagement was against the Grammar School, "except during periods of controversy" (probably originating in the intense partisanship sometimes shown by supporters at the annual football matches). Many of these games took place at Corio Oval or in Kardinia Park. In 1876, in the very first cricket match of which there is a detailed account, the Grammar School won by an innings and 40 runs.

Every few years, it seems, there appeared some keen boys who practised regularly, and a good team resulted. It was so in 1882-83, when ten matches were won, Kew High School being the victims in what was probably the first match played on the College pitch. Leading players were the Boyd brothers, A. Simson, H. McLean, and W. Macpherson, the bowler of the team. But then the insidious influence of the new tennis court—laid down in 1881 on the site of the present Morrison Hall—sapped cricket strength, and in the late 'eighties football was the preoccupation of the sporting giants.

In 1891-92 came two significant changes: Norman Morrison, the founder's son, a member of the XI in 1883-84, became Vice-Principal, and the Victorian Schools' Association was formed among private schools of the colony. The College pitch was put in order and coaches were engaged, but results came slowly. One burst of splendour occurred in 1896-97-98, chiefly under the influence of E. M. Baird, a brilliant batsman, and in all three years College were runners-up. Baird's averages for these years were 52, 45, 87.

After another short lapse, College cricket entered its first "golden age" by winning the V.S.A. championship in 1901 and further topped the list in 1902-04-06-07. Some remarkable feats were performed in 1903. Against Carlton College, G. A. Melville and M. C. Jacobs, going in first, made 353 without being separated and the match was won on that score. A whole Brighton Grammar School side was dismissed for 2 runs, Melville accomplishing the "hat trick" and Shannon taking 7 wickets for 0. The same bowlers routed the Geelong Grammar School team, Melville with 7 wickets for 9, Shannon with 3 for 8.

The cricket pavilion and the present main oval were first used in 1905. On the College's admission to the Public Schools, the cricket teams had some success: in the first year Scotch was defeated, in 1909 Geelong Grammar School and Xavier. In 1910 all matches were lost, but the next year again saw two wins.

The "dark age" of cricket began in 1912 and for many years a win was a matter of astonishment. In eleven years out of fourteen no match was won; one player was in the team during five seasons without tasting victory; in 1915, when College did win two matches fairly and squarely, it also suffered an innings defeat by M.G.S. by "the rather depressing margin of 657 runs". College teams were certainly learning to be good losers, yet the position was not accepted supinely. To defeat Wesley, the 1915 team compiled the College's highest Public School score so far, 342 runs, with J. I. Birnie and J. B. Hawkes contributing 75 and 78 respectively. In 1917, when College again beat Wesley, R. N. Campbell scored 104 n.o., while W. S. Sharland
made the then record individual score of 142 against Xavier.

Leading bowlers of the war years were J. B. Hawkes and F. R. Apted, the latter having such figures as 5 for 36 (in a match which was lost) and 7 for 27, while Hawkes, a member of the team for six years and captain for four, took a total of 109 wickets. The chronicler of the day criticizes the batting as "feeble beyond description" or, by contrast, as showing "a decided tendency to be too enterprising"; occasionally he takes consolation from good fielding, praising it in 1915 against the M.G.S. total of 961, but states coldly that, when G.G.S. in 1919 made 596 runs, F. M. Lee's bowling figures suffered from the dropping of fourteen chances!

Cricket was certainly at a low ebb. At the end of 1919 the College had won one match in four years and was to win one and draw one in the next six years. Still, the early 'twenties showed some faint glimmerings of the dawn that was to come. In 1922 E. G. Greeves (ii) scored the first century since Sharland's record score, and in 1923 he made 137 not out against M.G.S. Also against M.G.S., in 1925, W. E. Mayo carried his bat through both innings for 94 and 168: 262 runs without losing his wicket! He was either batting or fielding for the whole of the two days. In the following year Mayo headed the Public School averages with 65.2 and raised his individual record to 173 not out, while the College innings record moved to 350.

The year 1929 was the first to produce three wins. Melbourne Grammar School were still too strong despite an opening partnership of 157 by M. Cochrane and V. Hassett. In 1930, with three wins and a draw, College finished second, losing to M.G.S. by only 19 runs. This was an age of strong batting sides. M. T. Wright raised the individual score to 189; the innings record took three leaps to 402. A. L. Hassett's average was 117; with A. R. Hinchliffe he added 210 for the fifth wicket against X.C., beating the previous best partnership of 190 made by Baker and Doig against G.G.S. in 1909.

* * * *

The 1932 season at last found the eleven undefeated—but not premiers! In a literal sense the College could be said to have shared the title of champions, but under the ruling system of scoring M.G.S. deservedly won the premiership by one point. Two matches had been won outright, two on the first innings, and one was drawn. A. L. Hassett put a fitting finish to a fine Public School cricket career by lifting the individual College score to 245 and amassing 644 runs for the year, still the record. The total of 428 (declared for 5 wickets) against Scotch is still the College's highest. In the Melbourne Grammar match, College made 387. At Xavier, the College side, down on the first innings, was fighting against time. Hassett and Weddell were not out for 75 and 47 when play ceased, having put on 25 runs in the last 10 minutes. This pace seems to have rattled the scorers and it was not until the Monday after the match that a College victory was declared.

The years after 1932 brought varying fortunes, but even when its team lacked naturally gifted players, the College commanded the respect of its opponents. During the later 'thirties there were some very fine performances. In 1935 G. A. C. Milne took 46 wickets (a Public School record) at an average cost of 8.39. J. R. Cooper aggregated 1,114 runs in Public School matches and, in 1939, made 189 against Xavier. J. W. Callander, keeping wickets in his first game in 1938, dismissed six batsmen and allowed only five byes in 370 runs.

Till 1933 three cricket matches were played in the first term each year, and two in the third term. From then on, the system of playing all five matches during the first term made it impossible for a boy to be a member of the Eleven and the Eight in the same year.

The second war, while it did not disorganize the College like the first, still naturally enough interrupted sport. First Eleven matches, reduced to one day, were for a time "unofficial", and there were few opportunities for junior games. As soon as this phase passed, the Firsts began to shape well. There was increasing success until 1946. when the College won its first victory over Melbourne Grammar School, and with it its first premiership. And although the 1947 team failed to repeat the success against M.G.S., it also won the premiership. M. J. Woodward and J. Hallebone (all-rounders), R. A. Bell and J. L. Chambers (batsmen) and D. A. Wallace Smith and G. L. Burch (bowlers) were the outstanding
players of these two years. Chambers and Hallebone scored three centuries each, Chambers carried his aggregate to 1,226, Hallebone scored 851 runs in two seasons at an average of 77.3, Burch took 9 wickets for 29 in his first game, and Bell stone-walled for over five hours in scoring 35 in that first victory over M.G.S.

After those brilliant years the College had to struggle very hard for its successes, but there were still many fine players. G. H. Wallace Smith captained the team for three years (1949-51), scored two centuries and captured 65 wickets. The 1955 team had three century makers in J. S. Bromell, R. D. Money and R. A. G. Vines, yet it won only two games. In 1956 A. S. Philip twice carried his bat through an innings, and against Scotch College scored 85 n.o. and 118. In 1957-58 I. R. Scott bowled consistently well to take 47 wickets, while I. R. Redpath was outstanding as a batsman.

A bright feature of the sporting calendar since 1949 has been the annual Easter cricket match against Scots College, Sydney, an occasion on which the social and sporting aspects of the game have always combined most happily.

* * * *

Mention must be made of the men who handed on the traditions and skills of this gentlemanly game from one age to another. Many years ago professional coaches were engaged; that is now forbidden by a rule of the Public Schools and has been proved unnecessary. Often Old Collegians have volunteered help in this as in other sports. The important formative work of the masters taking junior teams deserves high praise. But always the heaviest task has fallen upon the senior cricket master, as coach of the First Eleven and general organizer of the game within the school. Some of the men who occupied this important position with distinction were Messrs. A. H. MacRoberts, P. L. Williams and V. H. Profitt. Mr. K. W. Nicolson (1942-56) not only cultivated a high level of cricket skill and enjoyment, sufficient to win two premierships, but also set rigid standards of sportsmanship, insisting always on the happy acceptance of the fortunes of war.

Since 1957 Mr. E. B. Davies has been in charge; in the last year or two he has had an unusually promising group of younger players moving up through the school and hopes soon to see his team among the strongest in the competition.

The College is naturally proud of its Old Boys who have achieved success in Test and Interstate cricket. A. L. Hassett had a long and successful career as a Victorian and Australian player, and became one of Australia's most popular captains, famous for the delicate artistry of his batting. J. B. Iverson enjoyed a short but devastating career as a Test bowler whose unique grip of the ball aroused interest throughout the cricketing world. J. L. Chambers and J. Hallebone both scored heavily for Victoria, and at one stage the State side, with these four Collegians, four Old Scotch Collegians and an Old Wesley Collegian, was almost a Public School combination. G. H. Wallace Smith's name is becoming well known and highly respected wherever cricket is played. For the Australian Old Collegians he has organized two round-the-world tours which have done much to foster friendship and understanding between cricketing countries.'

Sources: The Geelong College 1861-1961 by G C Notman and B R Keith, Chapter 13, pp 99-104.
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