Jack Fingleton

Jack Fingleton
Jack Fingleton.jpg
Personal information
Full nameJohn Henry Webb Fingleton
Born(1908-04-28)28 April 1908
Waverley, New South Wales, Australia
Died22 November 1981(1981-11-22) (aged 73)
St Leonards, New South Wales, Australia
BattingRight-handed
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 142)12 February 1932 v South Africa
Last Test24 August 1938 v England
Domestic team information
YearsTeam
1928–1940New South Wales
Career statistics
CompetitionTestsFirst-class
Matches18108
Runs scored1,1896,816
Batting average42.4644.54
100s/50s5/322/31
Top score136167
Balls bowled091
Wickets2
Bowling average27.00
5 wickets in innings
10 wickets in match
Best bowling1/6
Catches/stumpings13/–81/4
Source: Cricinfo, 26 December 2008

John "Jack" Henry Webb Fingleton, OBE (28 April 1908 – 22 November 1981) was an Australian cricketer who was trained as a journalist and became a political and cricket commentator after the end of his playing career. A stubborn opening batsman known for his dour defensive approach, he scored five Test centuries, representing Australia in 18 Tests between 1932 and 1938. He was also known for his involvement in several cricket diplomacy incidents in his career, accused of leaking the infamous verbal exchange between Australian captain Bill Woodfull and English manager Plum Warner during the acrimonious Bodyline series, and later of causing sectarian tension within the team by leading a group of players of Irish Catholic descent in undermining the leadership of the Protestant Don Bradman. In retirement, Fingleton became a prominent political commentator in Canberra, with links to Australian prime ministers. The author of many cricket books, he is regarded as one of Australia's finest cricket writers, with a perceptive and occasionally sardonic style, marked by persistent criticisms of Bradman.

Fingleton had a difficult childhood, forced to leave formal education at the age of 12 to support his family after the death of his father. He joined the media at the age of 15. After making his first-grade debut in Sydney district cricket at the age of 16, he made his first-class debut for New South Wales at the age of 20 in 1928–29. However, Fingleton struggled to establish himself at interstate level, playing in only seven matches in his first three seasons. In 1931–32, Fingleton gained a regular position for New South Wales. He then made his debut in the Fifth and final Test of the season against South Africa. On a pitch rendered hostile by rain, Fingleton made 40 in an innings victory. The following season, Fingleton enhanced his reputation for defiance in difficult conditions by scoring an unbeaten century against the Bodyline attack in a tour match despite suffering multiple bruises, and compiling 83 in the low-scoring Second Test, Australian's only Test win of the series. At the time, Fingleton was widely believed to be responsible for leaking captain Bill Woodfull's admonishment of England's tactics. Fingleton was dropped after this Test, and was overlooked for the 1934 tour of England. His omission was thought to be influenced by the belief that he was responsible for leaking Woodfull's comments.

Fingleton scored four centuries and was the leading run-scorer during the 1934–35 domestic season, earning a recall to the Australian team for the 1935–36 tour of South Africa. From that point onwards until the outbreak of World War II, he opened the batting with Bill Brown. It was the happiest time of Fingleton's career, scoring centuries in three consecutive innings as Australia won each of the last three Tests by an innings. In the Fourth Test, he and Brown put on the first double century opening partnership for Australia in a Test. In 1936–37, Fingleton made a century in the First Test to become the first player to score consecutive centuries in four Test innings. Fingleton made his only tour of England in 1938, and he was not successful, averaging only 20.50 in the Tests. Upon returning to Australia he played sporadically for his state before retiring in 1939–40.

Fingleton enlisted in the military during World War II and was eventually sent to work on media matters for Prime Minister John Curtin and one of his predecessors, Billy Hughes. After the war, Fingleton worked as a political correspondent in Canberra and commentated on cricket during the summer months in Australia and England. He was a prolific author, regarded as one of the finest and most stylish cricket writers of his time, producing many books. Fingleton was known for his forthright opinions and willingness to criticise, and his cricket reports were published by newspapers in several countries. He was known for his ongoing feud with Bradman—the pair repeatedly spoke out against one another's judgement and play on the field long after they retired.

Style

A right-hand opening batsman, Fingleton was noted primarily for his obdurate defense rather than for his strokeplay. Like most successful opening batsmen, he had a small back-lift and was rarely surprised by the quicker half-volley or yorker. Fingleton was often described as "courageous", in particular for his defiant batting against Bodyline.[1] Fingleton often made self-deprecating comments about his batting, telling English cricket writer Alan Gibson that he "missed nothing" by not seeing him bat.[2] He was also an athletic and gifted fieldsman, who built his reputation in the covers. Later he became noted along with Vic Richardson and Bill Brown in South Africa in 1935–36 as part of Bill O'Reilly's leg-trap. Neville Cardus, once described the Fingleton-Brown combination as "crouching low and acquisitively, each with as many arms as an Indian God".[1]

His partnership with Brown was regarded as one of the great opening pairings in the history of Australian Test cricket.[3] In ten Tests together as an opening partnership, the pair averaged 63.75 for the first wicket, higher than any other Australian pair with more than 1,000 runs.[4]

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