Sam Loxton dies aged 90
Sam Loxton, one of the last remaining members of Australia's 1948 Invincibles, has died at the age of 90. Loxton passed away overnight in Queensland, leaving Neil Harvey and Arthur Morris as the only surviving members of Don Bradman's great 1948 side that toured England without losing a match.
Prior to his death, Loxton was Australia's oldest living Test cricketer, after another Invincible, Ron Hamence, died last year at the age of 94. An allrounder who played 12 Tests, Loxton had a fine first-class record but missed out on greater opportunities at international level due to the presence of the great allrounder Keith Miller.
He scored a Test century in Johannesburg but it was as a member of the 1948 squad that he was best remembered, especially for his batting in Leeds, where his 93 in the first innings helped keep Australia in touch before Bradman and Arthur Morris chased down 404 in the second innings. In 22 first-class games on the tour, Loxton averaged 57.23 with the bat and 21.71 with the ball.
"It was a magnificent side, not only the ability of the players, but the fact that with the exception of Neil Harvey, who was only a baby, the rest of the fellows in one way or another had served in the war," Loxton, who served in a tank division, said in the book Remembering Bradman. "Some in actual theatres, like Miller in the air force and Lindsay [Hassett] in the desert, and so forth. There was a tremendous bond and there was a tremendous desire to play the game. It was breaking new ground.
"When we finally got on the ship, I think we had the one and only team meeting of the tour… [Bradman] gathered us all together and put on a little tea and nuts and a few drinks and so forth and just spelled it out. I mean, he never mentioned the opposition. Nor really did he mention the task ahead, he just said that he hoped that we would all enjoy the tour and that success would come from within. There would be outside influences of course, the press and so forth, but that if we all played as a united team then success was sure to come. And it did, it did.
"Being away for eight months we were paid 600 pounds, but quite frankly the tour was such a joy that I think if they'd paid the rent at home and given us a few bob for a few drinks we would have gone over there for nothing."
Loxton and Harvey became firm friends, the elder man often acting as an intermediary between the teenager and Bradman during the tour. Loxton also enjoyed a close relationship with Bradman, permitted to refer to the greatest batsman of all by such familiar terms as his middle name "George" or sometimes "the little bloke".
A middle-order batsman renowned for his hard hitting, Loxton took the same aggression to the bowling crease and collected 232 wickets in his first-class career. He captained Victoria in his final two seasons of first-class cricket, until his retirement after the 1957-58 season, but he stayed involved in the game in his later years.
He served as Australia's team manager for the 1959-60 tour of the subcontinent and was a national selector for a decade during the 1970s and 80s. Choosing teams alongside Bradman and Harvey, Loxton was involved in decisions such as the sacking of Bill Lawry during the 1970-71 Ashes series and also the selection of Dennis Lillee, who Bradman had not seen bowl, for his debut that same summer.
His cricket administration career ended after the 1981 underarm delivery at the MCG when, visibly upset, he told Greg Chappell: "Greg, you might have won the match but you've lost a lot of friends."
"I left the ground and drove back to Red Hill, on the Mornington Peninsula, where I lived," Loxton said. "I was teary all the way. I wasn't proud. It was a very sad occasion."
A true allrounder away from the game, Loxton also played 41 games in the VFL for St Kilda as a full-forward, finishing second in the club's best-and-fairest in 1944 and once kicking eight goals in a game. One of his team-mates in that St Kilda side was Miller, who might have outshone Loxton as a cricketer but was on a more level pegging with him as a footballer.
Loxton also served as a member of the Victorian parliament, holding the seat of Prahran for the Liberal Party from 1955 to 1979.
In 2000, he was devastated at the death of his wife Jo and on the same day the passing of his son, who was taken by a shark in Fiji. Loxton lived alone on the Gold Coast after the death of his wife, and he continued to attend Test cricket and past-player functions, although in more recent years his eyesight had failed significantly.