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History of Victorian Cricket   

Victoria has always been a major player in Australian cricket, its successes not only marked by an illustrious trophy cupboard and some of the game's finest players but by a highly-influential and caring set of administrators who have helped nurture and advance the game to its present exultant position as Australia's national game.

In the last 100 years alone from Donald Mackinnon and Harry Rush through to Jack Ryder, Bob Parish, Ray Steele, Jack Edwards and Bob Merriman, Victoria has been graced with as visionary and emphatic a band of club and state administrators as any in world cricket.

Mackinnon, for example, was president at Hawksburn and then Prahran Cricket Club into four decades. Parish's service to Prahran began as a schoolboy fast bowler in 1935 and continued into the new century in his role as patron. Both also served Bradman-like stints at state and national level, Parish being so highly regarded that he had a second term as chairman of the Australian Cricket Board in the highly-volatile late '70s when World Series Cricket loomed as a competitor to the traditional game.

Another of the earliest greats was Hughie Trumble who served a massive stint as secretary at the Melbourne Cricket Club, after a highly successful career which included several Test hat-tricks at the turn of the century.

With wizened men such as these also at the helm in the earliest days, it was no accident that the first three Test matches were all played in Melbourne and that five of the first nine Sheffield Shields were won by Victoria. Good management has always been a signature of the game south of the Great Divide.

Playing wise, Victoria's personnel has also been of the highest ilk. In-between-the-wars champions Bill Ponsford and Bill Woodfull were Australian cricket's first truly great opening pair, "Ponny" remaining the only Australian to twice make 400 in a first-class match and "Woody" captaining Australia for many years, including the infamous Bodyline series.

More recently, Shane Warne is regarded as the finest spin bowler in history and contemporary Dean Jones among the most-acclaimed one-day players of them all.

As many as seven Victorians have played in the same Test match together (in 1884-85 against England in Melbourne) and the most celebrated touring party of all, Don Bradman's 1948 "Invincibles" included seven Victorian-born players: touring vice-captain Lindsay Hassett, glamorous all rounder Keith Miller (who had only just crossed to New South Wales), Ian Johnson, Bill Johnston, Sam Loxton, Doug Ring and budding champion Neil Harvey, then just 19 years of age.

It wasn't until Test match No.793, or Australia's 360th match against Pakistan in Adelaide in 1976-77, that a Test XI took the field without a Victorian. And even then No.6 batsman Gary Cosier hailed from Northcote and the 12th man another of Victoria's favourite cricketing sons, Max Walker.

Warwick Armstrong had an 80% success rate as Australian skipper

Thirty per cent of Australia's 41 Test captains have been Victorian, among the most remembered being Jack Ryder, Woodfull and Hassett, whose winning strike-rate remains only slightly behind Don Bradman's and whose state batting average of 63 is bettered only by two others, Ponsford with 86 and Woodfull 75.

The youngest of nine children, Geelong-raised Hassett showed himself to be an emerging cricketer of infinite promise from the time he made a century, aged 17, representing a Victorian Country XI against the 1930-31 touring West Indians.

In winning eight of his 10 Ashes Tests as captain immediately after World War One, the formidable Warwick Armstrong, who learnt his cricket at leafy Caulfield Park, remains the most successful skipper in Test history.

Victoria's priorities have always centred around producing the best home-grown teams. Unlike other states, the Vics - or Bushrangers as they are now known - have never played an overseas import. Even the opportunity to secure Frank Worrell, the famed West Indian immediately after the glorious 1960-61 summer was allowed to pass, on the grounds that his presence would have robbed a local of a place.

Prominent overseas players including John Snow, Clive Lloyd, Rohan Kanhai, Derek Randall, John Emburey, Asanka Gurusinha and Mark Ramprakash have all had stints in Victoria, but purely at club level.

New Zealand-born Clarrie Grimmett, the first man to take 200 Test wickets, did play a handful of Sheffield Shield games in the early '20s before moving to Adelaide for job rather than cricketing reasons.

The influence of the great Jack Ryder was significant and over a period of more than 50 years, he served loyally as player, coach, administrator and selector, the Victorian Cricket Association recognising his immense contribution from 1972-73 by the awarding of the Ryder Medal to the Premier League's Cricketer of the Year.

Known as "The King of Collingwood" or "The King" for short, Ryder was one of the most respected personalities in the game, who played for Collingwood for 43 years. Tall and lean he was a batting allrounder of considerable polish, his highest score of 295 coming in the same game as Ponsford's famous 352 when Victoria made 1107, the highest total in first-class cricket.

At stumps on the opening day, having been sent into bat, the Vics were one for 573, the opening stand alone worth 375!

The scoreboard is one of the famous in cricketing annals:

Victoria

W. Woodfull 133
W. Ponsford 352
H. Hendry 100
J. Ryder 295
H. Love 6
S. King 7
A. Hartkopf 61
A. Liddicutt 36
J. Ellis 63
F. Morton 0
D. Blackie 27*
Extras 27
Total 1107

NSW
221 & 230

Victoria won by an innings and 656 runs. 

The prolific opening pair, Ponsford and Woodfull

Ponsford made 1229 runs at an average of 122 in six matches that season. He was equally prolific the following year, too, with 1217 runs at 152.12 in just five matches, his colossal streak including a monumental 437 (out of 793), which surpassed his own world record of 429 made five years earlier. Ironically he was colour-blind but says it never bothered him. Most of the time he used to see it as big as a beach ball!

Ponsford was good enough even in his farewell Test match, aged 33 in England in 1934, to make 266 and outscore Don Bradman in a record Ashes partnership which still stands today.

At the height of his feats, Ponny seemed capable of batting for days on end. He simply hated getting out.

Famed New South Welshman Bill O'Reilly reckoned he'd rather bowl at anybody except Ponsford. Woodfull said his long-time opening partner was the finest player of slow bowing he ever saw.

"I'd go through the same life again," Ponsford said in an interview coinciding with his 79th birthday for Cricketer magazine in 1979. "You meet some wonderful people especially in England. They couldn't do enough for you."

After his premature retirement from Tests, Ponsford played only one more first-class match, in his own rain-affected testimonial held jointly with Woodfull in Melbourne in 1934-35. However, he continued at club level, helping the Melbourne Cricket Club to four consecutive premierships, his eight centuries in his final four years continuing proof of his keen eye and passion for the game.

PONNY IN AUSTRALIA

Season by Season
Season Mts Runs HS Ave 100s
1920-21 1 25 19 12.50 -
1921-22 1 162 162 162.00 1
1922-23 3 616 429 154.00 2
1923-24 5 777 248 111.00 4
1924-25 10 926 166 51.44 3
1925-26 8 701 158 63.72 3
1926-27 6 1229 352 122.90 6
1927-28 6 1217 437 152.12 4
1928-29 5 448 275* 89.60 1
1929-30 10 729 166 45.56 3
1930-31 9 816 187 74.18 4
1931-32 9 399 134 30.69 1
1932-33 7 475 200 47.50 1
1933-34 8 606 122 50.50 1
1934-35 1 131 83 65.50 -
Tests 28 2122 266 48.22 7
Victoria 55 6902 437 86.27 26
Career: 162 13,819 437 65.18 47
* denotes not out

If Ponsford remains Victoria's finest batsman of yesteryear, Dean Jones is certainly the best of more recent generations.

With 10,412 runs, average 52, he remains the highest runmaker in Victorian history ahead of Matthew Elliott (over 8700 runs), Bill Lawry (7618), Ponny (6902) and another opener Ian Redpath (6103).

The highest of Deano's 31 centuries was 324 in a day-night game against South Australia during his most prolific domestic season in 1994-95 which produced 1251 runs at 69, second behind only one other, ex-Test captain Graham Yallop and his all-time Australian domestic runs record of 1418 runs at 67 (in 1982-83).

Paul Reiffel

The state's leading wicket-taker is Paul Reiffel who remains in the game as a senior umpire for Cricket Victoria.

With 337 wickets, Reiffel surpassed the feats of fellow fast bowler Alan Connolly (330) during his farewell season.

Reiffel's finest year was in 1999-2000 when as a first-time captain he took 59 wickets and spearheaded Victoria's appearance into the Pura Cup final.

Only one other, left-arm leg-spinner "Chuck" Fleetwood-Smith (with 60 wickets in 1934-35) had taken more wickets in a single season. Fleetwood also claimed 50 in the Bodyline summer of 1932-33.

While Armstrong, current state selector Ray Bright and Tony Dodemaide can claim to be the best-performed allrounders of them all, their deeds are quickly being overhauled by present international Ian Harvey, one of Victoria's two stars currently contracted to the Australian Cricket Board.

The other, leg-spinner Warne has had an extraordinarily successful career and at the start of the new-season Ashes contests with England was eyeing 500 Test wickets, a mark reached by only one other, West Indian Courtney Walsh.

Originally from Black Rock via Hampton High and Mentone Grammar School, Warne played a season of sub-district cricket with Brighton as a 17-year-old before moving to St Kilda where he remains one of the famous old club's most legendary players.

Ironically at Brighton where he played half the season in the seconds, his captain told him he'd be better advised to concentrate on his batting as he didn't see a future for his wrist spin!

Warne was to take a hat-trick in home-town Melbourne against the old enemy England, his much-remembered dismissal of Mike Gatting with his first ball in Ashes cricket in England in 1993 being described as "the Ball of the Century".

So hectic has Australia's schedule become these days that many of the frontline Test players play only occasionally for their states.

Warne was reinstated as Victoria's captain this summer in the hope that it could clear his path to a similar recognition nationally.

Warne's long-time partnership with Victoria's wicketkeeper Darren Berry has been a highlight of recent domestic level matches, Wonthaggi-born-and-bred Berry, another product of Victoria's extensive development schemes in the bush, having become the most capped player in Victorian history as well as amassing the most dismissals by a wicketkeeper from any state.

So many elite players have worn the dark blue cap and with 25 titles, the last in 1990-91, Victoria has been the most successful state, bar NSW (with 42 titles) in Australian cricket.

The state has four times won back-to-back titles, in 1897-98 and 1898-99; 1923-24 and 1924-25; 1933-34 and 1934-35 and 1978-79 and 1979-80.

Berry remains the only playing survivor of the 1990-91 premier team, although Darren Lehmann also still plays, with South Australia.

Staff-wise in just 30 years the VCA has increased its personnel from secretary Jack Ledward and assistant Bryan Cosgrove - plus a solitary, part-time typist - to 40 and more.

Its headquarters have also changed from No.1 Exhibition Street to a palatial and refurbished building at 86-90 Jolimont Terrace, just a stone's throw from the MCG, which is also going through change with the building of a new northern grandstand in time for the 2006 Commonwealth Games.

Whereas Sheffield Shield/Pura Cup cricket, especially early in a season, has been played away from the MCG at venues such as Optus Oval, Punt Road and the Junction Oval - the 2004 state squad practice base - all Victoria's home matches are at the MCG.

The 2004 Sheffield Shield Final was a great and comprehensive victory for Victoria:

March 12-16 2004: Pura Cup final v Qld @MCG

Matthew Elliott was the first-day star after Queensland won the toss and sent the Vics in

Match Report  
PURA CUP FINAL SCOREBOARD
 
 

Victoria 1st innings

Jason Arnberger lbw b Hauritz 90 M 192 B 169 F 11 S 2 FoW: 1-165

Brad Hodge c Hopes b Dawes 89 M 205 B 171 F 14 S 0 FoW: 2-336

Matthew Elliott c Hartley b Bichel 155 M 411 B 302 F 22 S 0 FoW: 3-342

David Hussey c Hartley b Noffke 16 M 47 B 37 F 2 S 0 FoW: 4-369

Cameron White c Hartley b Simpson 54 M 168 B 127 F 5 S 1 FoW: 5-504

Jon Moss c Law b Hauritz 98 M 243 B 186 F 13 S 1 FoW: 6-516

Andrew McDonald c Perren b Dawes 42 M 100 B 81 F 6 S 0 FoW: 7-614

Ian Harvey b Noffke 62 M 155 B 109 F 8 S 0 FoW: 8-656

Michael Lewis lbw b Noffke 11 M 44 B 32 F 1 S 0 FoW: 9-708

Darren Berry c Law b Hauritz 61 M 90 B 65 F 6 S 1 FoW: 10-710

Allan Wise not out 1 M 4 B 5 F 0 S 0

Extras (b 3, lb 14, w 2, nb 12) 31

Total 710 (all out, 212 overs, 834 mins)


Bowling

Bichel 37 4 170 1 (3nb, 1w)

Dawes 38 9 97 2

Noffke 31 4 104 3 (7nb, 1w)

Hopes 24 5 80 0 (2nb)

Hauritz 50 13 145 3

Simpson 22 5 66 1

Law 9 2 26 0

Perren 1 0 5 0


Queensland 1st innings

Clinton Perren c Berry b Lewis 40 M 115 B 81 F 4 S 0 FoW: 1-85

Stuart Law c Hussey b White 18 M 49 B 40 F 1 S 0 FoW: 2-122

Chris Simpson lbw b White 8 M 11 B 12 F 2 S 0 FoW: 3-132

James Hopes lbw b White 5 M 33 B 18 F 0 S 0 FoW: 4-148

Jimmy Maher lbw b Moss 72 M 234 B 184 F 5 S 0 FoW: 5-157

Chris Hartley lbw b Moss 0 M 9 B 7 F 0 S 0 FoW: 6-157

Andy Bichel lbw b White 19 M 53 B 41 F 2 S 1 FoW: 7-201

Ashley Noffke c Lewis b Moss 13 M 39 B 27 F 2 S 0 FoW: 8-228

Nathan Hauritz b McDonald 0 M B 2 F 0 S 0 FoW: 9-229

Joe Dawes b Harvey 21 M 75 B 66 F 3 S 0 FoW: 10-275

Martin Love not out 65 M 206 B 164 F 7 S 0

Extras (b 3, lb 5, nb 6) 14

Total 275 (all out, 105.5 overs, 418 minutes)


Bowling

Wise 10 4 21 0 (1nb)

Harvey 14.5 3 41 1 (1nb)

Lewis 24 10 66 1 (2nb)

McDonald 16 4 55 1 (2nb)

White 30 6 66 4

Moss 11 4 18 3


Victoria 2nd innings

Jason Arnberger c & b Hauritz 72 M 107 B 89 F 5 S 4 FoW: 1-119

Matthew Elliott not out 55 M 121 B 81 F 6 S 1

Brad Hodge not out 5 M 13 B 11 F 0 S 0

Extras 8 (lb 5, w 2, nb 1)

Total 140 (1 wicket dec, 30 overs, 121 mins)


Bowling

Dawes 7 2 22 0 (1w)

Bichel 6 0 22 0 (1w, 1nb)

Hopes 9 2 37 0

Hauritz 8 0 54 1


Queensland 2nd innings

Jimmy Maher c White b Lewis 0 M 1 B 1 F 0 S 0 FoW: 1-0

Martin Love b Lewis 14 M 31 B 22 F 1 S 0 FoW: 2-15

Clinton Perren lbw b Lewis 32 M 63 B 50 F 4 S 0 FoW: 3-56

Chris Simpson c Berry b Lewis 15 M 27 B 24 F 2 S 0 FoW: 4-86

James Hopes c White b Harvey 31 M 61 B 41 F 3 S 0 FoW: 5-152

Stuart Law b White 72 M 147 B 114 F 9 S 0 FoW: 6-174

Andy Bichel c Elliott b Lewis 3 M 3 B 3 F 0 S 0 FoW: 7-177

Ashley Noffke lbw b McDonald 13 M 46 B 41 F 2 S 0 FoW: 8-211

Nathan Hauritz c Lewis b McDonald 33 M 31 B 31 F 6 S 1 FoW: 9-249

Joe Dawes c Berry b Lewis 2 M 5 B 5 F 0 S 0 FoW: 10-254

Chris Hartley not out 31 M 115 B 73 F 3 S 1

Extras 8 (b 4, nb 4)

Total 254 (all out, 68.3 overs, 269 minutes)


Bowling

Lewis 17.3 4 59 6 (3nb)

Harvey 14 4 43 1

McDonald 15 5 34 2 (1nb)

Moss 5 2 19 0

White 13 1 83 1

Hodge 4 1 12 0


16/3/04 1:00:17 PM AEST