Australian cricket team in Australia in 1962–63
The 1962-63 Australians drew 1-1 with the touring England team in the 1962-63 Ashes series. Australia had beaten England 4-0 in 1958-59 and 2-1 in 1961 and it was thought unlikely that the tourists would beat Australia on their home ground. Richie Benaud was a keen advocate of "go ahead" cricket and his attacking tactics and brilliant captaincy had won Australia five series in a row with what were seen as average teams. Ironically, now he had a better team he drew his first series and his negative play in the last two Tests tarnished his reputation, though he did retain the Ashes. This was the last Test series of Neil Harvey, Alan Davidson and Ken Mackay and Benaud himself played for only one more season. There was a feeling that this was an end of an era and commentators wondered where the new batsmen and bowlers would come from. Fears about the Australian batting proved short-lived as Bobby Simpson and Bill Lawry formed one of Australia's great opening partnerships and were supported by Peter Burge, Brian Booth, Norm O'Neill and Barry Shepherd. But they would soon be short of a decent bowling attack, which would rest on the broad shoulders of the 21-year-old fast-bowler Graham McKenzie until the emergence of Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Max Walker in the 1970s.
This was a coldly realistic Benaud, not the Benaud whose image had been built up as the "gallant adventurer". I have no doubt that he would have closed before lunchtime on the last day had Australia been playing the West Indies. But, then as has been emphasised, Anglo-Australian Tests are "different"...Benaud in this summer was not in the mood for generous gestures to the enemy. this was partly because he was conscious of his own end-of-an-era team, of the tremendous importance of Davidson to his attack, and of the sudden deterioration of his own bowling. Linked with this was his immense respect, which he sometimes voiced, for Dexter's ability to take over an attack and rip it apart.
- Tom Goodman
Richie Benaud was the captain of New South Wales, who had just won the Sheffield Shield 10 times in a row, and had led Australia to victory in his five successive series. His reputation as a tactical genius reached such heights that a simple field change would torment the batsmen as he tried to work out what he was doing. Against Tom Graveney he once "moved short leg round a couple of yards...there was no reason for the move other than to apply psychological pressure. He was a master at upsetting the concentration of batsmen" Usually aggressive and willing to take risks his reputation was tarnished when he went for a draw in the Fourth Test after Alan Davidson was injured and in the Fifth to retain the Ashes. A great believer of the saying "practice makes perfect" he trained himself and the team and honed their athletic advantage over the visitors. He was the first cricketer to make 2,000 runs and take 200 wickets in Tests and his 248 wickets was an Australian record until beaten by Dennis Lillee.
Australia had one of their most famous opening partnerships in the early 1960s; and a long line of talents batsmen. Bobby Simpson was a powerful strokeplayer who made 109, 66 not out, 28, 122, 130, 9 and 110 in the four matches leading up to the First Test and passed 1,000 runs in am Australian season quicker than any other batsman, even Bradman. Famously he took 30 Tests to make his maiden hundred, 311 vs England at Old Trafford in 1964. His opening partner Bill Lawry was a "tall, lanky, dour, watchful left-hander, and a better player than he looked...a great fighter, and a splendid resister in a corner", who was once unfairly described as "a corpse with pads on". He failed to make a century - his top score was 98 - but still made 310 runs (34.44). John Snow later wrote that 'He always had to be got out and even if you managed to knock all three stumps over he still stayed at the crease a moment looking round for some excuse to continue batting before reluctantly starting his walk back to the dressing room'. Norm O'Neill also made 310 runs (34.44) in the series, but at a faster rate. A charismatic, attacking strokemaker, he had been lumbered with the "New Bradman" tag at an early age, had gained weight and a became a nervous starter. The left-handed Neil Harvey was the last member of Don Bradman's great 1948 Australians "the Fred Astaire of cricket, withy marvellous footwork ensuring that he was always in the right position at the right time" Brian Booth a "modest, unobtrusive stylist" was almost 12th man in the First Test, but saved the game with a century and hit another in the Second. Peter Burge was a heavyset front-foot batsman who scored all four of his Test centuries against the England, he was dropped after the defeat at Melbourne, but was recalled for the Fifth Test and made 103. He was replaced by the Western Australian captain Barry Shepherd, another strong batsman who made 71 not out at Sydney when Titmus took 7/79. "Slasher Mackay" was a dour, dull batsmen who never made a Test century and only averaged 33.48, but Mackay always made runs when Australia need them. In the lower order were Richie Benaud and Alan Davidson, both hard-hitting all-rounders who liked to attack the bowling, as did the wicket-keeper Wally Grout.
In the 1961 and 1962-63 Ashes series Australia dropped the controversial "chuckers" Ian Meckiff and Gordon Rorke who had routed the English batsmen in the 1958-59 Ashes series. Both had suffered from illness and injuries, and Meckiff still played for Victoria and took 10 wickets (23.00) for them against the MCC. The Australian attack was dominated by the all-rounders Alan Davidson and Richie Benaud. "Davo" was a left-handed fast-medium swing bowler who came round the wicket and could move the ball either way off the pitch or through the air. His injury in the Fourth Test ruined Australia's chances of winning the match and his 24 wickets (20.00) in the series were taken in only four Tests. Tom Graveney thought he was "possibly the greatest left-arm new-ball bowler in the history of cricket" and with the exceptionally low Test average of 20.53 it is difficult to argue with him. The captain Richie Benaud took his best first-class figures of 7/18 to beat the MCC by an innings in the tour match against New South Wales. He has 219 Test wickets at the start of the series and took 6/115 in his first innings in his bid to overtake Ray Lindwall's Australian record of 228 Test wickets and Alec Bedser's record of 236 Test wickets. He failed to maintain his pace and it was England's Brian Statham who broke the record. No great spinner of the ball "his control was admirable, and when Benaud gets a batsman in trouble he rarely if ever gives him a loose one. He keeps him pinned down, probing and probing until the victim is well and truly enmeshed." The 21-year-old Garth McKenzie was due to take over as Australia's premier fast bowler, a 6'2" gentle giant he had a knack of taking wickets on flat batting tracks and rose to fame by wrapping up the English second innings with 5/37 at Lords in 1961 to leave Australia only 71 runs to win. To help these three bowlers Benaud relied on Bobby Simpson's leg-spin, which took 5/57 i the Second Test at Sydney, but did little else, and the shambling medium pace of Ken Mackay, who had once dismissed Ken Barrington, M.J.K. Smith and Raman Subba Row in four balls. Colin Guest and Neil Hawke were two fast-medium paced bowlers who played one Test each, but failed to make an impression. Guest failed to take a wicket in his only Test, but Hawke became a useful support bowler.
With their baseball experience Australia were traditionally a stronger fielding side than England and as Richie Benaud emphasised this area of the game their already athletic skills rose to an extraordinary level. Wally Grout was an exceptional wicket-keeper, but had his jaw broken while keeping to Queensland's West Indian fast-bowler Wes Hall in their match against the MCC a week before the Test. He was replaced by South Australia's Barry Jarman, who played only seven Tests until Grout retired in 1966, when he became Australia's first-choice keeper and vice-captain on their 1968 tour of England. Neil Harvey and Norm O'Neill were electric in the covers, and Harvey took six catches in his last Test. Bobby Simpson held 110 catches in 62 Tests and was "one of the greatest slip-fielders of all time. He had lightning-quick reflexes and it was rare indeed for a chance to go begging if the ball was anything like catchable." Alan Davidson's spectacular catching close to the wicket earned him the nickname of "The Claw" and Benaud himself was an expert gully.
Below are the Test statistics of the Australian squad.
First Test – BrisbaneEdit
30 November – 5 December 1962
Second Test – MelbourneEdit
29 December 1962 – 3 January 1963
Third Test – SydneyEdit
11–15 January 1963
Fourth Test – AdelaideEdit
25–30 January 1963
Fifth Test – SydneyEdit
15–20 February 1963
- p130, Swanton
- pp161-163, Moyes and Goodman
- p68, Graveney
- pp158-159, Arlott
- see Bill Lawry
- p108, John Snow, Cricket Rebel: An Autobiography, Littlehampton Book Services Ltd, 1976
- p70, Graveney and Giller
- pp178-179, Moyes and Goodman
- p72, Graveney and Giller
- p73, Graveney and Giller
- p32, Moyes and Goodman
- p70, Graveney and Giller
- p106, Swanton, 1977
- p297, Swanton, 1986
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- E.W. Swanton, Swanton in Australia, with MCC 1946-1975, Fontana, 1977
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- Fred Trueman, As It Was, The Memoirs of Fred Trueman, Pan Books, 2004* E.M. Wellings, Dexter v Benaud (MCC tour, Australia 1962-63), Bailey Brothers & Swinfen, 1963