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)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links