Cricketer Colin McDonald, who has passed away at the age of 92, was a fine opening batsman for Australia and a more or less steady force for his country over a 47-game trajectory that ran from 1952 to 1961, taking 14 test runs at home. and abroad.
He was widely admired for his courage and tenacity, and while at McDonalds there was much more than grittiness, he was undoubtedly at his best when the conditions were to the test. The strongest evidence of that was an outstanding performance in the Laker Test against England at Old Trafford in 1956, when Jim Laker set a world record of 19 wickets in the match and McDonald was one of the few Australians to offer some level of resistance, making the highest score in both innings with 32 and 89.
Given the circumstances, McDonald complained that the Manchester field was like Bondi Beach in the first innings and a mud pile in the second, rightly considering his 89 at five and a half hours as the best knock of his life. All we could do was get spanked, which we did, but I almost put Australia in a position where there was a vague chance we would make it, he said. Peter Richardson, an opponent in that match, later claimed McDonald’s 89 was one of the best innings ever played in Test cricket.
Australia lost the series that year, but when they hosted England on their own territory two seasons later, McDonald’s reliability was a key factor in reclaiming the Ashes. With 519 runs against an average of 64.87 he achieved his highest Test score of 170 in Adelaide, not making a difference of 133 and 51 in the final match in Melbourne, taking comfortable Australian victories on both occasions. It was the culmination of an admirably consistent career that ended just two years later due to injury.
McDonald was born in the Glen Iris area of Melbourne, the youngest son of Arthur, a librarian, and Violet (née Dyall); his brother, Ian, also became a first-class cricketer. From Scotch College, he attended Melbourne University where he played for the Melbourne cricket club before making his debut for Victoria in early 1948 at the age of 19.
It took only four years for Australia to call on him in the final test of the series against the West Indies in Sydney in early 1952, alongside Richie Benaud, a fellow debutant. McDonald immediately impressed with scores of 32 and 62, then played all five Tests in the subsequent 1952-53 home series against South Africa, averaging 48.55 and scoring 154 in the fourth Test in Adelaide.
During the Ashes tour to England in 1953, his form took an alarming dip in the early warm-up matches, and as a result, he did not appear in any of the Tests that summer. But after siding at home against England in early 1955, he scored 186 points at 46.50 in the last two tests and then became an automatic selection.
With an average of 64.14 against the West Indies at home in 1955, he stood out the following year in England’s Ashes series as one of the few players who could master Laker. Classic side-on, favoring the back foot and with a short backlift, he was a natural opener that was determined to withstand fast bowling. But as he demonstrated at Old Trafford, he was also a skilful spinner.
Retirement went into premature in 1961, while McDonald was still in his early thirties. On a tour with Australia in England that year he had bought a van to travel around the country; it had a terribly stiff gearshift and after playing three Tests of the series, he eventually got his wrist seriously damaged by repeatedly trying to put the stick into action.
An operation improved things somewhat, although not enough for McDonald to resume his testing career, and after three farewell matches for an international XI on tour in Rhodesia and Pakistan, plus one final match with Victoria in 1962, he bowed out completely. He had a batting average of 39.32 in Tests, including five centuries and 17 half centuries, and 40.48 in the first-class game.
After a short stint as a schoolteacher, McDonald worked as an insurance broker and also did TV cricket commentary for ABC. He eventually became involved in sports administration, where he served as Executive Director of the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia from 1976 to 1987 and was instrumental in establishing a new national tennis center in Melbourne, which hosts the Australian Open. He became Secretary of the National Tennis Center Trust from 1987 until his retirement in 1990.
Always interested in politics. I used to be enthusiastic liberal, now I have gone a long way on the left, he said in 2010 that he was a Melbourne city councilor from 1963 to 1973. In 2014 he became a member of the Order of Australia.
He married Lois Ahlston in 1956 and they had a daughter, Karin, and two sons, Cameron and Peter.
Colin Campbell McDonald, cricketer, born November 17, 1928; died January 8, 2021
This article was updated on January 13, 2021 to correct the date of death and some family information.
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