Ernie Toshack

Left-arm bowler with Don Bradman's 1948 Invincibles
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The Independent Online

Ernie Toshack was one of the remaining survivors of Don Bradman's 1948 unbeaten touring team to England, rightly known and remembered there and revered in Australia, as the Invincibles. He was possibly the least-known and favoured of Bradman's famous five bowlers and was a comparative veteran when he arrived in England but his nagging left-arm medium pace, jagged and spiteful on a lively pitch,was one of Bradman's match-winning weapons.



Ernest Raymond Herbert Toshack, cricketer: born Corbar, New South Wales 15 December 1914; married (one daughter); died 11 May 2003.



Ernie Toshack was one of the remaining survivors of Don Bradman's 1948 unbeaten touring team to England, rightly known and remembered there and revered in Australia, as the Invincibles. He was possibly the least-known and favoured of Bradman's famous five bowlers and was a comparative veteran when he arrived in England but his nagging left-arm medium pace, jagged and spiteful on a lively pitch,was one of Bradman's match-winning weapons.

A tall, dark man, with an air of scepticism born of unavailing lbw appeals, he would have greatly enjoyed today's one-day cricket, in which his leg-stump attack would have made him a prodigious opponent. His economy rate, to use the modern term, of 2.5 runs an over, in the era of Bradman, Hammond and Hutton, is sufficent testimony to his skills.

Bradman often used him, in a short career of only 12 Tests, to block one end with his accuracy while he used his glittering spearhead bowlers Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller in measured but devastating assaults. Occasionally Toshack would share the chores with either Bill Johnston's seam or Ian Johnson's spin but, as often happens, those batsman who felt they could relax at the other end became Toshack's victims.

The Second World War undoubtedly took his best years and he did not appear for New South Wales until 1945 but such was his impact in the Sheffield Shield that he was chosen for the Australian team to tour New Zealand later that year as Australia's selectors set about rebuilding the national team. He made a stunning début in Wellington, taking 6-18 in his 29 overs. That particular match was not given Test status until 1948, so that Toshack's international début came against England in Brisbane in 1946, where he confirmed his arrival by taking 9-99 and overshadowing both Lindwall and Miller although, such is the nature of charisma, without receiving similar attention.

His freshness on the Test scene was demonstrated when, at Brisbane, Bradman made him look a tiro by taking him out to the pitch, by then sticky, and showing him where he wanted him to pitch the ball. Later, in England, Bradman twice took Toshack out of the attack at Lord's, when he had taken 2-14 and 4-25, in order to give Lindwall and Miller the new ball. But by taking 17 wickets in that first series, at an average of 25.70, Toshack had consolidated his place.

India, including Vinoo Mankad, Lala Amarnath and Vijay Hazare, were the next visitors to come under the cosh, shot out for 58 and 98 in Brisbane in December 1947, Toshak taking 5-2 in 27 balls and 6-29 in 17 overs. He celebrated his 32nd birthday after that match and a troublesome knee indicated impending struggles to maintain that form.

Nevertheless he was chosen for Australia's first tour of England for 10 years, in 1948, an epic series. Toshack performed his sustaining role perfectly. At Trent Bridge he bowled 14 overs for 28 runs and one wicket, then 33 overs for 60 runs and one wicket. After 18 overs for 23 runs in the first England innings at Lord's he struck in the second, 5-40 in 21 overs, Australia winning the first two Tests by margins of eight wickets and 409 runs.

In the drawn match at Old Trafford his first-innings figures were extraordinary – 41-20-75-2. He felt his knee and did not bowl in the second innings of the fourth Test, Australia winning by seven wickets and then had to stand down from England's rout at the Oval, dismissed for 52 and 108. His bowling in that series, wrote the Playfair editor Peter West "was enough to destroy the patience of Fabius".

As a batsman he was welcomed at the wicket usually as a partner for Bill Johnston, with whom he formed a popular and highly comical partnership. His career batting average was 5.7 but a short career brought him memorable bowling figures, 47 wickets at 21.

Derek Hodgson

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