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Full name Thomas Edward Ball
Born December 3, 1921, Atherton, Queensland
Died January 13, 2002, Cairns, Queensland (aged 80 years 41 days)
Major teams Queensland
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm fast
When the touring team brought to North Queensland by Bill Ives in 1940 played their game against Cairns the local team included a tall young fast bowler, still only eighteen years of age. That player was Tom Ball and with the first ball of the game he obtained the wicket of Jack Walsh who generally batted down the order but was still considered a more than useful batsman at first class level, particularly by English county team Leicestershire for whom he recorded two centuries. Tom's second wicket in that game was a little longer in coming but it was the great Sid Barnes whom he trapped lbw. In the second innings he dismissed Don Watt who opened the innings, and Colin McCool who batted at number three. In the match Tom Ball sent down twenty-five overs to capture four wickets for 88, a very good return against a team that was intent on quick scoring and providing crowd entertainment.
At this time Tom Ball was playing with Rovers in the Cairns competition. He later played with Marist Cricket Club, the club in more recent times known as Brothers. With the war in progress he lost five years but was soon before the selectors eyes when hostilities ceased and in December 1945 was a member of the Far North team to play in a brief Country Week in Brisbane. He was included in the Queensland Country team to play Brisbane on New Year's Day of 1946 and quickly made his mark, dismissing top order batsmen Jack Albrey, Bill Kaus and Mossie Guttormsen at a cost of 39 runs.
He returned for the Country trials in October 1946 and again impressed in matches against Lismore and Brisbane Metropolitan Colts. His five wickets against the Colts team included Ken Mackay and Ken Archer for scores of 2 and 0 respectively very early in the innings. Len Johnson was also on view and it was he who won a spot in the Queensland team ahead of Ball as partner for Jack Ellis. Tom was then included in the Queensland Country team for the two day match against the touring M.C.C. team to be played at Gympie. In the M.C.C. innings he bowled with considerable pace and captured five wickets, the most notable being that of Denis Compton.
As the season progressed Ellis faded and made himself unavailable for the final matches of the season. Tom Ball was given his chance. Against Victoria he quickly removed Mervyn Harvey but that was his only wicket. Yet his bowling was very economical for his fourteen overs cost but 38 runs. In the final match of the season, against South Australia he captured two wickets in each innings and was again very economical. In 1947-48 he was again brought to Brisbane for the Country trials in October and continued to impress. He retained his position in the Queensland team for the opening match against New South Wales and managed three wickets in the first innings, his victims being Morris, Lukeman and Miller.
Then followed selection for Queensland in their match against the touring Indian team but he withdrew. He was replaced by Cyril Smith for the game against India but was then selected for the southern tour. At this time his wife Mary was pregnant and fell down the steps of the family home and once again he withdrew from the team and announced he would no longer be available for first class cricket. Attempts were made to have him change his mind but to no avail. He continued to play in Cairns for several years and at the age of 43 he was still regarded as the best bowler in Cairns cricket. He appeared regularly in representative cricket and played against the visiting team brought to Cairns in 1952 by Jack Chegwyn.
Tom Ball bowled off a twelve yard run up and developed considerable pace. In fact he is one bowler who can be described as fast rather than fast medium, the term used for so many of our pace men. He was a quite outstanding athlete for he also played hockey and soccer at representative level. He was also quite fast over the one hundred yards.
As West Indies play their 500th Test, here's an interactive journey through their Test history