Walter Giffen

Walter Frank Giffen (20 September 1861 – 28 June 1949) was an Australian sportsman who played in three Test cricket matches between 1887 and 1892 and played in Australian rules football for Norwood Football Club in the South Australian Football Association.

Walter Giffen
Walter Giffen.jpg
Personal information
Full nameWalter Frank Giffen
Born20 September 1861
Norwood, South Australia
Died28 June 1949 (aged 87)
Adelaide, South Australia
RelationsGeorge Giffen (brother)
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 50)25 February 1887 v England
Last Test24 March 1892 v England
Domestic team information
1882/83-1901/02South Australia
Career statistics
Competition Test First-class
Matches 3 47
Runs scored 11 1,178
Batting average 1.83 15.91
100s/50s 0/0 0/6
Top score 3 89
Balls bowled 18
Wickets 0
Bowling average
5 wickets in innings
10 wickets in match
Best bowling
Catches/stumpings 1/– 23/–
Source: Cricinfo, 28 December 2019

Early life and careerEdit

The younger brother of leading Australian cricketer and Australian rules footballer George Giffen,[1] Walter Giffen was born in Norwood, South Australia on 20 September 1861, to Richard Giffen, a carpenter and his wife Elizabeth (née Challand).[2]

Giffen played alongside his brother at Norwood Football Club, where he was a member of the 1879 Norwood premiership team,[3] and firstly at Norwood Cricket Club before they moved to Adelaide Cricket Club ahead of the 1894/95 season.[4]

First-class cricket careerEdit

Giffen made his first-class debut for South Australia on 24 March 1883, against Victoria at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, scoring a duck (out of a total of 23) and eight as South Australia lost by an innings and 98 runs.[5] He struck better form the next season, against Victoria at Adelaide Oval, top scoring in South Australia's second innings with what was called "a faultless 89"[6] (his highest first-class score) as South Australia lost by four wickets.[7]

Giffen lost the tops of two fingers when he got his left hand trapped between a pair of cog-wheels in 1886 at the South Australian Gas Company's Brompton Gasworks.[8]

Considered a sound batsman with a solid defence, Giffen's strength was his fielding in the deep and he "possessed a capital return to the wicket".[1]

Giffen made his Test debut against England in February 1887 and was involved in a controversial event when Giffen, batting, hit the ball back to the bowler George Lohmann, who knocked the ball on the half volley to W.G. Grace at point. Grace then claimed the catch, and the unsighted umpire gave Giffen out.[9]

In 1891 Giffen played for South Australia against the touring English side, making 65 in a total of 562, South Australia's then highest ever score, before being forced to retire hurt when his brother drove a ball straight back down the wicket, hitting the non-striker Giffen on the fingers of his right hand, injuring them so he was unable to continue his innings.[10]

In a 1894/95 match against the touring English side, Giffen and Clem Hill added 192 for the eighth wicket, which remained the record South Australian first-class eighth wicket stand until February 2002/03 when Brad Young and Mick Miller added 222 against Queensland.[11]

Controversy over Australian selectionEdit

Giffen has been called "one of the worst Test batsmen of all time"[8] and it was alleged that Giffen played Test cricket only because George refused to play unless Walter was also selected.[8]

The Australian media was particularly scathing of Giffen's national selection, with The Bulletin publishing a poem ridiculing him and stating "The big black spot on the selection of the Australian Eleven for England is Walter Giffen, whose proper place is in a second eleven. He is simply the brother of George Giffen and that is all."[12]

George Giffen always denied having any influence over his brother's inclusion in Australian teams, arguing that Giffen had been picked on the strength of very good batting and when he did not have success in England, "nobody was more surprised than myself, for I had always thought that he would acquit himself well on English grounds."[13]


In 1896 it was reported that Giffen was an owner of the lucrative "Lucky Hit" gold mine near Blumberg in the Adelaide Hills as well as working in the mine.[14] While there Giffen continued to play cricket, including scoring 150* and 150 for Blumberg Cricket Club against Mount Pleasant and Mount Torrens respectively.[15]

He worked for the South Australian Gas Company for nearly 50 years.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Obituaries in 1949". ESPNCricinfo. ESPN Sports Media Ltd. Retrieved 5 October 2019.
  2. ^ Morris, Christopher (1972). "Giffen, George (1859–1927)". Australian Dictionary of Biography – online edition. Australian National University. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  3. ^ "Giffen, Walter". Redlegs Museum. NFC History Group. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  4. ^ Harte, p. 132.
  5. ^ "Victoria v South Australia, 1882/83". ESPN Cricinfo. ESPN. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  6. ^ Stanton, p. 11.
  7. ^ "South Australia v Victoria, 1883/84". Cricinfo. ESPN. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  8. ^ a b c "Where'd he come from?". Cricinfo. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
  9. ^ Rae, p. 142.
  10. ^ Giffen, p. 22.
  11. ^ "Young & Miller break batting record". espncricinfo. ESPN. 5 February 2003. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  12. ^ The Bulletin, "Sporting Notions", Vol. 12., No. 675., 21 January 1893, p. 21.
  13. ^ Giffen, p. 80.
  14. ^ "Walter Giffen", The Inquirer and Commercial News (Perth), 20 November 1896, p. 3.
  15. ^ Harte, p. 141.
  16. ^ "Death of Mr W.F. Giffen", The Advertiser, 29 June 1949, p. 4


  • Giffen, G. (1898) With bat and ball: Twenty-five years' reminiscences of Australian and Anglo-Australian cricket, Ward, Lock & Co.: Melbourne.
  • Harte, C. (1989) The History of the South Australian Cricket Association, Sports Marketing: Adelaide. ISBN 0 958 7980 3 6.
  • Rae, S. (2012) W. G. Grace: A Life, Faber & Faber: London. ISBN 9780571266364.
  • Stanton, H.V.L (1893) The Australian Cricket Team of 1893, Wright & Co.: London.

External linksEdit