Jack Fingleton
Australian cricketer and journalist
Jack Fingleton
John "Jack" Henry Webb Fingleton OBE was an Australian cricketer who was trained as a journalist and became a political and cricket commentator after the end of his playing career. A stubborn opening batsman known for his dour defensive approach, he scored five Test centuries, representing Australia in 18 Tests between 1932 and 1938.
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Will Hawkes: Thrilling finale to season puts County Championship in pink - The Independent
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It was Jack Fingleton, fine Australian batsman turned peerless cricket writer, who suggested in Brightly Fades the Don that the Australians' unbeaten tour of 1948 was as much down to the feeble nature of so much county cricket as the invincibility of
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Book lover: Mike Ashma - New Zealand Herald
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The book I wish I'd never read is ... Four Chukkas to Australia by Jack Fingleton. This is a cool but damning account of England's worst tour to Australia in 1958-59. The title refers to polo and the disputed actions of Australia's quick bowlers
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One giant leap for Mankad - The Australian
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Former players were divided: Richardson supported Mankad; Jack Fingleton did not. Former English Test player and tour journalist, Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji, said it left a "bad taste". Batsman-hating leg-spinner, Bill O'Reilly, fancied Mankad as a
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CRICKET; Tendulkar Sets Record With 30,000 Runs
NYTimes - over 7 years
Sachin Tendulkar became the first man to complete 30,000 runs in international cricket with a match-saving innings for India against Sri Lanka in Ahmedabad on Friday. Tendulkar, who needed 39 runs to reach the mark, went on to score 100 not out, his 43rd score of 100 or more in five-day tests and his 88th in all forms of international cricket.
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Jack Fingleton
  • 1981
    Age 72
    Died on November 22, 1981.
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  • 1979
    Age 70
    He was the subject of three appearances in 1979 and 1980 on Parkinson's TV interview show.
    More Details Hide Details Fingleton's judgements were characterised by careful first-hand evidence and was known for sensing the emergence of a possible story. E W Swanton stated that "Fingleton remains surely, as cricket writer and broadcaster, the best his country has".
  • 1976
    Age 67
    In 1976, he was awarded an OBE for services "to journalism and to cricket".
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  • 1949
    Age 40
    This angered Bradman, who wrote in his 1949 book Farewell to Cricket in reply to Fingleton, claiming that as Fingleton was an inferior batsman, his record gave him "scarcely any authority to criticise my methods."
    More Details Hide Details The debate continued on, with replies in subsequent publications citing statistics. As parliament is usually in recess during the summer months, Fingleton's political journalism did not often interfere with his cricket radio commentary for the ABC or his cricket writing, except during tours of England in the Australian winter. Fingleton mainly freelanced for overseas newspapers as he regarded Australian editors as being difficult to work with, and because the pay was lower. In 1946–47, England toured Australia for the first full Test series since the war. Fingleton criticised Bradman for not walking after hitting a disputed catch to Jack Ikin. Fingleton and most in the press box thought that the catch was clean but the umpire ruled in favour of Bradman. At the time Bradman had been making a comeback from ill health and had been struggling, and it was thought that he would retire if he could not discover his old form. After the dispute catch however, Bradman began timing the ball and went on to score 187. Fingleton openly criticised the decision to give Bradman not out in his writing. Later in the series, he decried Bradman's tactics of having his pacemen bowl frequent bouncers at the English batsmen, pointing out that it was hypocritical for the Australian captain to vociferously condemn Jardine's tactics years earlier. As Fingleton was one of the few who were forthright enough to question the actions of national hero Bradman, many sources within the Australian cricket community chose to confide in him, most notably all-rounder Keith Miller, whose cavalier attitude brought him into conflict with Bradman's ruthless approach to victory.
  • 1946
    Age 37
    Fingleton finished his book Cricket Crisis in 1946 but it was rejected by the publishers Collins, who had already published a book by Ray Robinson named Between Wickets on the same topic.
    More Details Hide Details They were also concerned about the marketability of a book that criticised Bradman—still the dominant player of the time and an idolised figure—strongly. Fingleton then published with Cassell, and the book was widely acclaimed and is still regarded as the best first-hand account of the Bodyline controversy and of the classic cricket books at large. It was well known for its stylish writing and analytical value. Fingleton expressed his views forthrightly and interspersed the account with analyses and profiles of those involved in the Bodyline series, including Bradman, Jardine, Larwood, Warner and McCabe. He criticised Bradman's unorthodox approach in backing away from the bowling and questioned his aloof attitude towards his teammates.
  • 1942
    Age 33
    In May 1942, he went AWOL from his post at Double Bay on the shores of Sydney Harbour to visit his wife.
    More Details Hide Details As a result, he was missing when a Japanese midget submarine launched an attack in the harbour. Soon after, he was deployed to Townsville in northern Queensland in anticipation of a Japanese land invasion, which never materialised. He was then transferred to the Press Relations unit. There he did work in intelligence analysis and censorship. The military then made him the press secretary for former Prime Minister of Australia Billy Hughes. From his appointment onwards, he lived and worked in Canberra. Hughes had changed political parties several times and was infamous for his erratic style and the government wanted Fingleton to moderate him. The leader of the United Australia Party, Hughes had particularly worried Prime Minister John Curtin by frequently and publicly excoriating US General Douglas Macarthur, who was commanding the Allied forces in the Pacific. Curtin needed someone to quieten Hughes, as Macarthur had threatened to leave if the denouncements continued. Fingleton spent three months working for the temperamental Hughes and was not successful in curbing his aggressive oratory. He then worked in censorship, deciding which portions of Curtin's press briefings were reportable; Fingleton tried to take a liberal line on press freedom. Fingleton also worked for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio Australia while serving in the censorship department.
    The wedding went ahead in January 1942 after Philippa agreed to convert and Fingleton fitted in easily with his in-laws' left-wing orientation.
    More Details Hide Details Throughout his career as player and journalist, Fingleton persistently came into personal conflict with Don Bradman, one of the captains under whom Fingleton played, damaging the reputations of both. Bradman characteristically held his silence during Fingleton's lifetime. Bradman was known for his reserved personality, did not drink and often eschewed social activities with teammates, preferring to privately listen to music or read. Combined with his success, he gained a reputation for cockiness. In the 1930s, Australia had been divided along sectarian lines, with those of Irish descent such as Fingleton being Catholic and Anglo-Australians such as Bradman being predominantly Protestant, leading to speculation that the tension was fuelled by religion. During the 1936–37 Ashes series in Australia, four Catholics, leading bowler Bill O'Reilly, leading batsman and vice-captain Stan McCabe along with Leo O'Brien and Chuck Fleetwood-Smith were summoned by the Board of Control to respond to allegations that they were undermining Bradman. Fingleton was not invited, speculated to be due to his journalistic background, but Bradman later alleged that he was the ringleader. After that, Bradman's relationship with O'Reilly and Fingleton never recovered. When Bradman was dismissed in his final Test innings in 1948 for a duck, Fingleton and O'Reilly were reported to be laughing hysterically in the pressbox. E W Swanton said that "I thought they were going to have stroke". Bradman later wrote after both had died: "With these fellows out of the way, the loyalty of my 1948 side was a big joy and made a big contribution to the outstanding success of that tour".
  • 1941
    Age 32
    After the start of World War II, he enlisted in the Second Australian Imperial Force in November 1941 in the artillery.
    More Details Hide Details He was sent to Warwick Farm, then on the western outskirts of Sydney, for training. A non-conformist known for being forthright, Fingleton did not enjoy military discipline.
  • 1939
    Age 30
    In 1939–40, Fingleton had another quiet season with only 39 runs at 6.50 in three matches.
    More Details Hide Details He passed single figures only once in six innings and ended with a duck and three as New South Wales lost to arch-rivals Victoria by 82 runs. Fingleton retired at the end of the season.
  • 1938
    Age 29
    Fingleton returned to Australia and played in only three matches in the 1938–39 domestic season, scoring 81 runs at 16.20, before being sidelined at the end of December.
    More Details Hide Details His top-score for the season was 45 as New South Wales lost by four wickets to Victoria.
    In 1938, Fingleton made what turned out to be his international farewell as Australia toured England, a series in which he found runs difficult to come by.
    More Details Hide Details He later attributed this to his inability to play the pull shot. However, Fingleton started the tour well. He passed 30 in each of his first seven innings on English soil, and converted three of these starts into centuries, scoring 124 against Oxford University, 111 against Cambridge University and 123 not out against Hampshire in the first month of cricket. Fingleton's form tapered just at the wrong time, falling three times for single figures in the last two matches before the Tests. He carried this into the First Test at Trent Bridge, where he made only 9 and 40 in a high-scoring draw in which every innings passed 400. An infamous incident occurred in Australia's second innings. As Australia were 247 runs behind on the first innings and forced to follow on, they played for a draw and Brown and Fingleton batted slowly in the second innings. Sections of the crowd heckled his slow batting by using a slow hand clap. Bradman then sent Mervyn Waite out to deliver orders to the openers that they should back away from their positions and hold up proceedings until the barracking stopped. Fingleton said that he was not perturbed by the crowd but obeyed; umpire Frank Chester and England captain Wally Hammond had no issues with this. At one point, Fingleton theatrically decided to take off his gloves, put down his bat and sit down on the pitch and refusing to resume before the gallery quietened, but this only caused a huge uproar.
    Fingleton finished his season with 66, 1, 47 and 109 in two warm-up matches for the Australian team against Western Australia before they headed to England for the 1938 Ashes series.
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  • 1937
    Age 28
    Fingleton followed up with 862 runs at 50.70 in the 1937–38 domestic season, with two centuries and six fifties.
    More Details Hide Details This effort placed him third in the run-scoring aggregates for the season. He saved his best for arch-rivals Victoria, scoring 59 and 160 to salvage a draw after New South Wales had conceded a first innings lead of 231. New south Wales went on to win the title.
  • 1936
    Age 27
    The following 1936–37 season in Australia, saw more success for Fingleton, although with the return of Bradman as captain, team harmony became strained.
    More Details Hide Details Gubby Allen's Englishmen toured Australia, and after failing to pass 10 in his first three innings for the season, Fingleton scored 39, 42 and 56 in matches for New South Wales and an Australian XI against the tourists. Fingleton became the first player to score centuries in four consecutive Test innings when he scored 100 in the first innings of the First Test at Brisbane, reaching the mileston on 7 December. He top-scored as Australia replied to England's 358 with 234. Fingleton's feats was later equalled by Alan Melville, (whose four centuries were scored on either side of World War II) and surpassed by the West Indian, Everton Weekes in 1948–49. Fingleton's run ended in the second innings, falling for a golden duck as Australia were skittled for 58 on a sticky wicket and crushed by 322 runs. After scoring 12 in a total of 80 as Australia were caught on a sticky wicket, Fingleton then made 73 in the second innings of the Second Test in Sydney, one of few Australians to resist as the home side fell to an innings defeat after being forced to follow on. Australia were facing a dilemma in the Third Test in Melbourne. The home team scored 200, Fingleton contributing 38, before rain caused a sticky wicket and England declared at 9/76. However, Australia still had to bat on the treacherous surface, captain Bradman reshuffled the batting lineup, putting the bowlers in first and Fingleton and himself in at Nos. 6 and 7 to save them for more favourable batting conditions.
  • 1935
    Age 26
    As a result of his performances, Fingleton was recalled to the Test team for the tour of South Africa in 1935–36, where he partnered Brown at the top of the innings.
    More Details Hide Details Under normal circumstances, the Australians would have been captained by Fingleton's rival Bradman, who had been vice-captain to Woodfull. However, Bradman was unable to tour for medical reasons and Vic Richardson led the team instead. With Bradman out of the way, the tour was to be the most prolific and peaceful phase of Fingleton's international career and included several large opening stands with Brown. During the tour, Fingleton played with an attacking flair that contrasted with his established reputation for doggedness. For Fingleton, it was the happiest tour he had been on, in large part due to Bradman's absence. Fingleton nearly failed to make the trip. His newspaper editor Eric Baume ordered to write a column attacking the Australian Board of Control for vetoing players from going on a private tour of India, threatening to sack him if he refused—criticism of the board typically resulted in exclusion from selection. Fingleton was reluctant to comply, and was reprieved when the editor-in-chief overruled Baume.
  • 1934
    Age 25
    Fingleton responded to his omission from the Ashes tour by leading the run-scoring aggregates in the 1934–35 season.
    More Details Hide Details He scored 880 runs at 58.66 with four centuries and four fifties, almost 200 runs more than the second most prolific batsman, Brown. After Fingleton started the summer with a fifty in Woodfull's testimonial match, the pair started the Shield campaign with a 249-run stand in New South Wales' first match of the season against South Australia, both scoring centuries in an innings victory. Fingleton made 134 in just over three hours. Fingleton reached 49 at least once in the remaining five matches, including a 108 against Queensland. Despite the form of the openers, New South Wales failed to win the Sheffield Shield after losing both of their matches against Victoria. Fingleton ended the season with consecutive centuries, 124 and 100, against Western Australia, and took the first of two first-class wickets in his career in the first of the two matches.
    Despite this, Fingleton was an overlooked for the Australian side selected to tour England in 1934.
    More Details Hide Details With captain Woodfull and Bill Ponsford the established openers, there was only one place for a spare opener, and Brown won the position over his partner, who had performed to a similar standard during the season. The selectors asked Don Bradman, Australia's leading batsman and state team-mate to Brown and Fingleton, for advice. Bradman nominated Brown, believing that his style was better suited to English pitches. On the day that the team was selected, Bradman wrote in his newspaper column, criticising Fingleton's running between the wickets. When the pair next met, Fingleton's only words were to blame Bradman for his omission; Bradman claimed that as a result of the selection controversy, Fingleton relentless pursued a vendetta against him from there on. Fingleton also suspected that Woodfull wanted him out of the team because he held the journalist responsible for the leaked exchange with Warner.
    Fingleton was dropped after this Test, and was controversially overlooked for the 1934 tour of England despite strong performances for New South Wales.
    More Details Hide Details His omission was thought to be influenced by the belief that he was responsible for leaking Woodfull's comments as well as Bradman's criticism of his performance. Other factors speculated to have contributed to his omission included a dispute that Fingleton had with Woodfull during a Sheffield Shield match, and interstate rivalries between New South Wales and Victoria causing Fingleton's omission at the expense of an additional Victorian. After the 1934 tour, Woodfull and Ponsford—Australia's first-choice opening pair—retired, leaving vacancies in the Test team. Fingleton scored four centuries and was the leading run-scorer during the 1934–35 domestic season to earn a recall to the Australian team for the 1935–36 tour of South Africa. From that point onwards until the outbreak of World War II, he opened the batting with his New South Wales partner Bill Brown. With Bradman absent due to illness, it was the happiest time of Fingleton's career, and he scored centuries in three consecutive innings as Australia won each of the last three Tests by an innings. In the Fourth Test, he and Brown put on the first double century opening partnership for Australia in a Test.
  • 1933
    Age 24
    Fingleton had a prolific 1933–34 Australian season in which he scored 655 runs at 59.54 with two centuries and four fifties.
    More Details Hide Details He scored 105 in the Test trial for Richardson's XI and then struck 145 against arch-rivals Victoria in the last match of the season; New South Wales were unable to force a victory and thus ceded the Sheffield Shield to their southern neighbours. He had scored 76 in the return match earlier in the season and added 33 and 78 against the Rest of Australia.
  • 1931
    Age 22
    In 1931–32, Fingleton capitalised on illnesses to teammates to gain a regular position for New South Wales and then make his debut for Australia.
    More Details Hide Details He secured a position in the state team after Archie Jackson developed terminal tuberculosis and made 93 and 117 in his first two innings for the season, his highest scores to that point. He was then called into the Test squad and made his debut in the Fifth and final Test of the season against South Africa after Bill Ponsford fell ill. On a pitch rendered hostile by rain, Fingleton made 40 in an innings victory, surpassing the entire aggregate scored by the South Africans in their first innings. The following season, Fingleton enhanced his reputation for defiance in difficult conditions by scoring an unbeaten century against the Bodyline attack in a tour match despite suffering multiple bruises, and compiling 83 in the low-scoring Second Test, Australian's only Test win of the series. However, he made a pair in the next Test and the controversy over England's bowling peaked with the leaking of Woodfull's admonishment of Warner over England's tactics. At the time, Fingleton was widely believed to be responsible for the leak, although he always denied it and blamed Bradman. Over time, Fingleton's view has become more widely accepted.
  • 1930
    Age 21
    In 1930–31, aged 22, Fingleton regained his position at the start of the Sheffield Shield season for New South Wales, and first came to prominence when he withstood a ferocious opening spell against the express pace of Eddie Gilbert in Brisbane against Queensland.
    More Details Hide Details On one occasion, a particularly fast Gilbert delivery supposedly evaded both the batsman and wicket-keeper, travelled more than 60 metres and crashed through a fence before hitting and killing a dog on the other side. Fingleton scored 56 as a full strength team with Test players fell for 143. The visitors were set 392 for victory and played for a draw, with Fingleton adding 71 to prevent a collapse as the match was saved. He failed to pass single figures in his next four innings, and was dropped twice, before adding 32 not out and 26 as New South Wales lost to the touring West Indies. Fingleton did not play a full season and ended with 210 runs at 35.00 in five matches, including the two half-centuries. In the opening match of the 1931–32 season, which was against Queensland, New South Wales were in trouble. Gilbert famously knocked the bat out of Donald Bradman's hand, before removing him for a duck. Gilbert cut down the New South Wales top order with a spell of 3/12 and forced Alan Kippax to retire hurt after hitting him in the upper body. Fingleton was going to be twelfth man before Archie Jackson—who was to die of tuberculosis just over a year later—collapsed just before the start of the match. Undeterred, Stan McCabe came in and counterattacked; Fingleton assisted him with a stubborn 93 and featured in a 195-run fourth wicket partnership.
  • 1928
    Age 19
    Having scored a century for Waverley against Petersham the week before, Fingleton made his first-class debut in 1928–29, playing in two matches and having two innings.
    More Details Hide Details On debut against Victoria, Fingleton was allowed to bat no higher than No. 8 by captain Tommy Andrews, despite being a specialist batsman. More than 600 runs had been scored by the time the sixth wicket had fallen, bringing him to the wicket to join Don Bradman, who had already brought up his double century. The pair put on an unbroken stand of 111 before Andrews declared at 7/613, of which Fingleton made 25 not out. During the partnership, Bradman farmed most of the strike, much to Fingleton's chagrin. The pair's first meeting had been prickly and Bradman glared angrily at Fingleton after a mix-up almost ended in a run out. The match was drawn, and Fingleton then made a duck against Tasmania in an innings victory. The following summer, with no Test matches, New South Wales' international representatives were available for the entire season, and Fingleton missed selection for every match.
    After making his first-grade debut in Sydney district cricket at the age of 16, he made his first-class debut for New South Wales at the age of 20 in 1928–29.
    More Details Hide Details However, Fingleton struggled to establish himself at interstate level, and was unable to maintain a regular position in the team, playing in only seven matches in his first three seasons.
  • 1917
    Age 8
    In 1917, the family fell upon hard times when the elder Fingleton lost his seat and resumed his job as a tram driver, but in 1918 contracted tuberculosis. The father succumbed in 1920 when Jack was twelve, and the funeral director was Australian Test wicket-keeper Sammy Carter.
    More Details Hide Details Without their breadwinner, the Fingleton family were in further trouble and Belinda opened a seafood shop and withdrew her eldest son Les to support her. However, the business failed and the family home was at risk, so Jack was forced to quit school at the age of 12. He did a variety of jobs such as selling food at cinemas, washing bottles and sweeping floors. At the age of fifteen, Fingleton took the first steps in his journalism career, when his cousin helped him to become a copy boy with the now defunct Sydney Daily Guardian. Encouraged by his former headmaster, who had prompted his interest in writing, Fingleton quickly eased into his new career. Fingleton started as a sports reporter, and had a narrow escape when he was sacked by Robert Clyde Packer for breaking a pot, but then reinstated. Fingleton then risked being fired by removing cricket articles written by the famed Neville Cardus from the newspaper's archive against policy for his personal use.
  • 1913
    Age 4
    In 1913, at the age of five, Fingleton's father was elected into state parliament as a representative of the centre left, labour-union oriented Australian Labor Party, and the family moved into a larger house.
    More Details Hide Details It was here that Fingleton learned to play street cricket. Fingleton was educated at the Roman Catholic St Francis's School, in the inner city suburb of Paddington before moving to Waverley College. There he began a lifelong association with prose.
  • 1908
    Born on April 28, 1908.
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