Obituary: Lindsay Hassett

Arthur Lindsay Hassett, cricketer: born Geelong, Victoria 28 August 1913; played for Victoria 1932-53, Australia 1938-53 (43 Test matches, captain in 24); MBE 1953; married (two daughters); died Bateman's Bay, New South Wales 16 June 1993.

LINDSAY HASSETT was an Australian cricketer beloved by cricket followers all over the world. He was a cartoonist's delight with his deadpan features and lack of height, but his dry wit was what appealed to all within earshot, and his batsmanship was recognised as being of a very high calibre, from the dashing days at Geelong College right through to the careworn responsibility that cloaked him as captain in England in 1953, when it was his misfortune to relinquish the Ashes after Australia had held them since 1934. He was now 40, and had held the reins for four years since Sir Donald Bradman's retirement. The powerful 1948 combination was slowly breaking up, and there was little that Hassett could do about it.

England might have sealed victory in Coronation year somewhat earlier had Hassett not moved up the order, scoring fighting centuries in the first two (drawn) Tests, at Trent Bridge and Lord's, in the latter as opener. In this, his final series he topped Australia's batting, just ahead of Neil Harvey and Arthur Morris. He further endeared himself to English cricket- lovers with a short speech of farewell from the Oval balcony, though the wall-clock wrecked in collision with an empty champagne bottle in the dressing-room festivities some time later remained a diplomatic secret for some years.

One of nine children, the diminutive Hassett was only 17 when he took 147 off the West Indian attack when the 1930-31 tourists played a Country XI at Geelong. Joining South Melbourne, a club which has produced six Australian Test captains, he first played for Victoria at 19. Seven consecutive half-centuries in 1936-37 set him up for selection for the 1938 English tour, and his 33 in the Leeds Test secured the match and the Ashes. Ever the prankster, he planted a rain-sodden stray goat in a teammate's hotel room during the Derbyshire match.

Ten years later, having served in Australia's Ack-Ack Regiment in the Middle East and captained the Services cricket team in England and India, Hassett was a key member of Bradman's formidable 1948 team which remained unbeaten in England. As vice-captain, Hassett's 1,563 tour runs (at an average of 74.42) included seven centuries, the biggest being 200 not out at Lord's against Gentlemen of England. He scored 137 in the opening Test, at Trent Bridge, and is remembered for dropping two boundary catches at Old Trafford, covering his embarrassment by borrowing a policeman's helmet in preparation for another possible catch. When bowled by Norman Yardley first ball in the Lord's Test, he marched back into the dressing-room to find the score still deuce in the same game in the Falkenburg- Bromwich men's singles final at Wimbledon.

Hassett's intelligent technique brought a profusion of runs during his long career. His chopped late-cut was a marvel, as was his calm, swivelled hook against the short stuff of bowlers who were always towering above him. He mastered - and teased - the best bowler of his era, Bill O'Reilly, lofting him straight. He scored 122 in each innings in an interstate match at Sydney in January 1940, causing his fellow 'Irishman' to explode: 'The little bastard's not even good-looking]'

Having led Australia in South Africa, at home against England in a memorable series against 'John Bull' Freddie Brown's team in 1950-51, equally successfully against West Indies and in a drawn series against South Africa in the seasons following, Hassett embarked on that final mission to England in 1953, conceding finally to Len Hutton's team entirely without bitterness. Thereafter he dabbled in writing and broadcasting, eventually to retire to the New South Wales coast to indulge his passions of fishing, gardening and golf.

If one tale is to typify him, while dining in a Park Lane hotel during the 1953 tour, he had a dish spilt over his jacket. Handing it to the head waiter for cleaning, he then took off his trousers: 'These could do with a clean and press too,' he said in his unexpectedly deep voice, resuming his seat in shirt, tie and underpants.

(Photograph omitted)

ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam