'He was worth two players' May 25, 2007

Invincibles pay tribute to Johnston

Cricinfo staff



Bill Brown and Bill Johnston at a reunion of the Invincibles in 2005 © Getty Images

Bill Johnston might not have achieved the same recognition as his more famous fast-bowling colleagues but to those who played with him, Johnston was a champion. Neil Harvey, one of the five surviving members of the 1948 Invincibles touring party, said Johnston was not only a fantastic team man but also a first-rate bowler.

"It was unprecedented - not many blokes could bowl the new ball as well as Bill Johnston and then when the shine came off come back and bowl his finger-spinners," Harvey told Cricinfo. "In 1947-48 we thought we were playing with 13 players - we reckoned Bradman was worth two and Bill Johnston was worth two."

Harvey said Johnston, who died overnight aged 85, deserved to be remembered as one of the game's greats. "He was one of the best bowlers I ever came across," Harvey said. "I saw him bowl to some of the best batsmen in the world and knock them over."

Not only was he a dangerous fast and slow bowler - Johnston was Australia's leading wicket-taker on the 1948 tour with 102 victims and his 27 in the five Tests equalled Ray Lindwall - he was also one of the game's nice guys. "He had a great sense of humour and passed it on to all his cricketing mates," Harvey said. "A better team man you couldn't get."

Another member of that squad, Bill Brown, said Johnston was the most popular member of the Australian team amongst his fellow players. "He had that lovely personality that everybody liked," Brown said.

"We all felt a bit sorry for him because [Keith] Miller and Lindwall got the new ball - and rightly so - and poor old Bill used to come on first change and bowl for long periods. But he was the sort of fellow that everybody wanted to talk to. If we would go out we always made sure Bill was in the party."