February 23, 2010

Australian Cricket

Keeping the traditions

Cricinfo

From Alan & Philip Sutherland, Australia

Graham Manou continues a long South Australian tradition © Getty Images

For those to whom an organised fan tour, offering such delights as golf with players and drinks with coaches, has about as much appeal as facing a fit Shane Bond with little but a miniature signature bat for protection, there are alternatives. There is still the odd place, or two, where traditions appear to mean something. In the modern world this makes them very odd indeed.

Take the Adelaide Oval as one such example. Despite some modernisation, this remains a cricket ground - a ground for cricket rather than a stadium for herding cattle into. It comes as no surprise then, that the captain of the resident Sheffield Shield team in Adelaide is none other than one who appears to mirror the traditions of the ground - Graham Manou. Also somewhat of a throwback to a bygone era, Manou is a wicketkeeper's keeper, one who puts his glovework first.

When one thinks of Australian keepers, one tends to think of Queenslanders, New South Welshmen and Western Australians. South Australia, however, has an equally fine tradition behind the stumps. If Jack Blackham, the bearded 19th century Victorian, was known as "The Prince of Keepers" and, as writer Jack Pollard described him, "an original Australian hero", then Arthur Jarvis, an Adelaide coach-builder of rather taller and more solid proportions was the prince in waiting. Fellow South Australian and Test captain George Giffen wrote of Jarvis, also known as "Affie", as an outstandingly courageous taker of pace-bowling, standing up to the stumps to the express Ernie "Jonah" Jones and yet maintaining unbroken fingers.

Undoubtedly, were it not for Blackham, Jarvis would have played more than 11 Tests. Jarvis did, however, manage to win one, according to former English captain Alf Shaw, largely by his own efforts. This was the third Test of 1884-85 at the SCG, where Jarvis took five catches plus a stumping off the bowling of "The Demon" Fred Spofforth.

Better known than the 12-stone Jarvis, was another burly South Australian, Barry Jarman. Even heavier, at 13 stone 7 lbs, Jarman was long in the shadow of Wally Grout. In 191 first-class matches, he completed 560 dismissals, including 129 stumpings. One particular single-handed diving catch off Graham McKenzie in Melbourne in 1962-63 to dismiss England's Geoff Pullar is long remembered.

Trapped between Bert Oldfield and the Second World War was Charlie "Chilla" Walker. Quite possibly the best Adelaide keeper of them all, Walker recorded over three hundred first-class dismissals, an incredible 46% being stumpings. It no doubt helped his cause greatly to have legspinners of the quality of Clarrie Grimmett and Frank Ward in his Shield team. In a match against NSW at Sydney in 1940, Walker completed no less than three catches and six stumpings. Charles Walker died two years later while on active service for the Royal Australian Air Force.

Like Walker, Manou has over 300 dismissals and seems destined to be a Test reserve. With just five first-class centuries and an average in the mid-twenties his batting lacks the gusto of Brad Haddin's. However, Manou's keeping is undoubtedly world class and if it wasn't for the unreasonably heightened expectations from keepers with the bat since Adam Gilchrist appeared on the scene, he might well be accepted as the best in the country. Manou has certainly served a long apprenticeship, whereby his glovework has developed a silky smoothness.

Another who seems set on doing the same, is his state deputy, Tim Ludeman. A country boy, born in Victoria's Western District, Ludeman travelled further west for an opportunity at Shield level. Good enough to open the batting in the shorter forms of the game, Ludeman has already racked up quite a number of catches in just a few matches. One hopes that his destiny is not to be stuck behind Tim Paine. As good as Paine is, there should be enough room in the modern schedule for both of them.

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Posted by Chris on (April 18, 2010, 18:09 GMT)

Gil Langley; untidy as they come, not a great batsman, but what a keeper! (26 tests, 83 catches & 15 stumpings) His 9 catches in the 1956 Lords Test remained a record for 44 years.

Cricket's loss was SA parliament's gain.

Posted by John on (March 17, 2010, 6:15 GMT)

I think the article missed the best SA keeper of them all, Gil Langley. Langley was chosen as wicketkeeper for SA's team of the century.

Posted by Tom on (March 11, 2010, 11:18 GMT)

Ricky, perhaps you have forgotten that just to gain selection in the Australian team (or most international teams) is a significant achievement, usually requiring many years of hard work and skill. Especially to gain selection as a 'keeper as you really have to be the no. 1 or 2 'keeper available in the nation to get your chance. Yes, Campbell and Ronchi (and Justin Langer, who played a few ODIs as a 'keeper) aren't in the same league as Marsh, Healy, Gilchrist and co. they are just as entitled to be called Australian reps.

Posted by Ricky on (March 6, 2010, 10:25 GMT)

The article overlooked one more SA keeper who played 27 tests & 48 ODIs in the '80s - Wayne Phillips. Before his time as a keeper/batsman ... maligned as a keeper, his skills in that area at least matched Gilchrist and Haddin. And nice try Adrian. Campbell and Ronchi? Fair go, these days the number of games means many get a game or two in ODIs. To consider them "Australian" reps in the same class as Marsh or Healy is ridiculous. And, as you mention, Gilly isn't even a WA product!

Posted by Adrian on (February 26, 2010, 13:55 GMT)

In the last 30 odd years, Western Australia must be considered the benchmark for wicketkeepers I think. While it is true that Ian Healy took up a large chunk of that time, there was the great Rod Marsh in the 80's, Tim Zoehrer (his own worst enemy in regards to Australian selection), Adam Gilchrist (our favourite adopted son...), as well as Ryan Campbell and Luke Ronchi, all of whom have represented Australia in one form of cricket or another.

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