Ray Lindwall: Role Model Of Fast Modern Cricket

Ray Lindwall: Role Model Of Fast Modern Cricket

Post by Kavish33 » Tue, 25 Jun 1996 04:00:00


I had to post this glowing tribute by Matthew Engel in The Guardian.
Thanks are due to the writer and the newspaper.

- From RJS on #cricket

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ROLE MODEL OF FAST MODERN CRICKET;
Obituary: Ray Lindwall

By: Matthew Engel

    RAY LINDWALL, who has died aged 74, was a heroic figure from one of
cricket's golden ages. Very arguably, he was also the greatest of all
Australian
fast bowlers, and one of the pioneering figures of the modern game.

    Lindwall found fame on the 1948 tour of England - Don Bradman's last -
when
he was the chief offensive weapon in Australia's 4-0 triumph. England,
still
struggling after the war, were hopelessly outclassed. But, in contrast to
recent
defeats by similar margins, the series is remembered for the magnificence
of
Australia's cricket, not English incompetence.  

    As captain, Bradman used Lindwall sparingly. And Lindwall used his
ferociously fast and well-directed bouncer - bumper as it was usually
called in
those days - sparingly too. But the possibility, when he was not bowling,
that
Lindwall might come back into the attack, and then the possibility, when
he was
bowling, that at any moment he might unleash a rip-snorting short-pitched
ball
at the batsman's head, dictated the terms of trade.  Lindwall injured six
batsmen that summer; England had no one who could possibly retaliate.

    This was the beginning of modern Test cricket, in which Lindwall is a
role
model. In 1932-33 England had gone too far, when Harold Larwood's bumper,
bowled
to the "Bodyline" field, had constituted the thrust of the attack. When
MCC came
to their senses, this was rejected as a dangerous distortion of the game
and the
1930s were dominated by men like Bradman, Walter Hammond and Len Hutton,
who
built up massive scores on friendly pitches.

    It was Lindwall who restored the balance between bat and ball, bowling
in a
manner that was manly and thrilling but within the accepted bounds of fair
play.
That paved the way for England's great fast bowlers, Trueman and Statham,
and
the long list of Australian and West Indian pacemen who have set the
standard
for the past three decades.

    Ray Lindwall was a Sydney boy and watched Larwood during the Bodyline
series.  He played with other kids on patches of green and in the streets,
choosing - it is said - the street down which the great leg-spinner Bill
O'Reilly walked home in the hope of catching his eye. At the St George's
Club,
he came under the wing of O'Reilly, who used the novel technique of
photography
to help the lad correct his faults.

    There were quite a lot of these and, as a youngster, Lindwall's
batting was
more compelling than his bowling: at 15 he made a century and
double-century
in different matches on the same day. And even after the war he flirted
with the
old no-ball laws by "dragging" his back foot before releasing the ball.

    But he was a smart learner and a dedicated practiser; during the war,
when
he was in the South Pacific and suffered horribly from either malaria or
something very like it, he marked out his run-up between the palm trees
and got
his bowling into a beautiful groove. Halfway through the home 1946-47
series
against England he and Keith Miller emerged as the undisputed leaders of
Australia's attack. In the final Test at Sydney, Lindwall took seven for
63, and
after taking seven for 38 against India a year later came to England an
established star.

    He was injured during the First Test of 1948 but in three of the
subsequent
four he was devastating. Though his bumper was so feared, 43 of his 86
victims
on the tour were bowled. He had a clever slower ball (good for modern
one-day
cricket) and, though his arm was too low to satisfy the sternest purists,
he was
close to being the complete fast bowler.

    Sir Pelham Warner once exclaimed "Poetry!" and Lindwall, watching
himself on
film, discovered that that all the effort and pain failed to transmit
itself to
anyone else. "I don't look tired," he murmured with surprise.

    Lindwall played Test cricket for more than another decade and toured
England
again in 1953 and 1956 when the balance of power had tilted and England
had the
quickest bowlers. His shock effect declined but, like his eventual heir
Dennis
Lillee, he compensated by his canniness, mastery of technique, and utter
determination.  Jack Fingleton said Lindwall never liked bowling much, and
always preferred batting (he made two Test centuries). but he was opening
Australia's attack as late as December 1959, when he was 38.

    He was not a flamboyant character like Miller, who was in London last
week
shooting down what he regards as over-technical bullshit as forcefully as
ever.
Cardus rated Lindwall alongside Ted McDonald as "the most hostile and
artistic
fast bowlers I have ever seen"; but he preferred to write about Miller,
who was
better copy.

    Lindwall was a quieter man. He was a phenomenal all-round sportsman:
he
could easily have been a rugby league international, and he ran 100 yards
in
10.6 seconds. But when he retired he ran a florist's shop in the centre of
Brisbane, a gentle counterpoint to his earlier life.

    Ray Lindwall, cricketer, born October 3, 1921; died June 22, 1996

 
 
 

Ray Lindwall: Role Model Of Fast Modern Cricket

Post by Ian Davidso » Sat, 29 Jun 1996 04:00:00

One aspect of Ray Lindwall's career that has not been mentioned was his
comeback to Test cricket at the age of 38 in 1959. Having not played in
Tests since the tour of India and Pakistan in 1956, he embarked on a
rigorous fitness programme at the commencement of the 1958 -9 season,
when England toured Australia. After several outstanding performances in
the Sheffield Shield he was selected in the Australian side for the
fourth Test at Adelaide, and retained his place for the final Test in
Melbourne. Here it was that he broke Grimmett's Australian test wicket
taking record when he bowled Trevor Bailey in the second innings.