Invincible Ron Hamence dies aged 94
Sam Loxton has remembered his fellow Invincible Ron Hamence as a beautiful all-round player who was a great character with a wonderful voice. Hamence, who died in an Adelaide nursing home on Wednesday aged 94, played three Tests in 1947 and 1948 and was a valuable member of Don Bradman's undefeated Ashes squad in 1948.
"He was a lovely player," Loxton told Cricinfo. "He never played in a Test match in '48, he ran into a bit of trouble - Harvey was his name!" Neil Harvey, the baby of the team, went on to become one of Australia's greatest batsmen while Hamence went back to South Australia and did not represent his country again.
"He had a lot of Bradman in him because he played so much with Bradman [at South Australia]," Loxton said. "He was a lovely little fellow, he had a beautiful voice, a great little character, we loved him. My commiserations to the family." Hamence's songs were popular on the long boat trip to England and he remained in demand throughout the tour.
Hamence scored 81 runs in his three Tests and is best known for his near-miss against Somerset in a tour game. "He got to 99 and hit two balls with terrific speed only to see them gathered by a fieldsman, then fell to what everyone said was the ball of the day," Bradman wrote in Farewell to Cricket. His team-mates were desperate for him to reach a century in England but he never made it.
Bradman summed up Hamence in his notes as "a fine batsman of the strictly orthodox type". "Very sound and reliable with his game based on driving. An extremely useful reserve who could have been played in the Tests with confidence."
Hamence featured in 99 first-class games, scoring 11 hundreds in 5285 runs, at an average of 37.75. He made his first-class debut in the 1935-36 season, collecting a century against Tasmania on debut, and also reached three figures in his final match in 1950-51. During the Second World War he served in the Royal Australian Air Force. He is survived by daughter Lynette Hallett and grand-daughters Sharon and Jan.
Hamence's death leaves Loxton as Australia's oldest living Test player. "Ninety-four, it's a great age," Loxton said. "I've got 89 coming up in four days, I hope I make that one." Arthur Morris, 88, and Harvey, 81, are the only other survivors of the Invincibles.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo