Obituary: Phil Ridings

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The Independent Culture
PHIL RIDINGS was a first-class batsman who was not quite good enough for the magnificent Australian teams of the early post-war years but who sustained his love for the game by becoming one of the outstanding leaders and administrators, making his state debut in 1937 and retiring as a South Australian delegate to the Australian Cricket Board in 1991. He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1982.

He was one of several Australians who might have won Test match status but for the Second World War. One of four brothers from Adelaide, who all played for West Torrens, he followed Ken, a batsman of international promise who was expected eventually to captain state and country, into the South Australia team. He was a schoolboy wicket-keeper who sought greater opportunities by becoming an all-rounder, trying fast bowling and then settling for batting.

He played 19 of his 102 matches for South Australia before joining the Australian Army, serving as a warrant officer in an armoured brigade.

His brother Ken died when flying a Sunderland over the Bay of Biscay. Back in Adelaide Phil deputised as captain of South Australia when Bradman was unavailable.

His consistency - he averaged 36 over his career - made him a regular fringe player for Australia. He was unluckiest in 1951 when, before the Adelaide Test against West Indies, Lindsay Hassett pulled a muscle while practising in the nets. Ridings was nominated as his replacement but such was the cumbersome mechanism of Australian selection at the time he had to be overlooked as all 13 members of the Board could not be contacted. Hassett was forced to act as 12th man and Geoff Noblett, a bowler, filled the gap.

After South Australia, under his captaincy, had stormed to the Sheffield Shield in 1952-53 without losing a match, Ridings was appointed a selector, immediately declaring himself ineligible for selection for Australia. He continued to play for the state until just short of his 40th birthday, captaining 79 times.

He chaired the selectors from 1972 to 1984 and remained a leading voice in Australian cricket through all the post-war crises: the Packer affair, the setting up of World Series, the rebel tours to South Africa and the impact of one-day cricket and mass marketing techniques on an institution steeped in history and tradition.

He managed Australia to England in 1980 (the Centenary Match) and chaired the ACB in the years 1980-83, a time when the Australian captain was invited to attend Board meetings for the first time. He brought to the Board not only rich experience as a player and a captain but also honed business skills in management and finance. He was one of several businessmen who founded the Custom Credit corporation.

His contribution to South Australian cricket was recognised recently by the naming of the south gates at the Adelaide Oval, Australia's loveliest ground, after him.

Derek Hodgson

Philip Lovett Ridings, cricketer and administrator: born Adelaide 2 October 1917; AO 1982; married (two daughters); died 13 September 1998.

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