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Full name John Edward Halford Hooker
Born March 6, 1898, Summer Hill, Sydney
Died February 12, 1982, Winmalee, New South Wales (aged 83 years 343 days)
Major teams New South Wales
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm fast-medium
Hal Hooker remains the only bowler to have taken four wickets with successive balls in a Sheffield Shield match (against Victoria in 1928-29), he will be chiefly remembered for his unlikely role as a batsman in the earlier match that summer at Melbourne, when, chasing a Victorian total of 376, New South Wales were 113 for 9, with Kippax, the captain, 20 not out. Hooker, last man in, was a tailender even for his club, Mosman. But on this hot Christmas Day he found the determination and coolness to stay with his elegant partner for just under five hours, taking an equal share of the strike and defying the huddle of close fielders. Between lunch and tea, Hooker scored only four runs, and as news spread, hundreds left their Christmas dinners in the hope of getting to the MCG to see history made. Kippax finished the day on 222, with nine runs needed for a first-innings lead. They duly came, and when Hooker was caught at slip by Jack Ryder off a'Beckett for 62, NSW had risen to 420,a lead of 44. Hooker was stiff for two days, never having batted for anything quite as long before. Over 6ft tall and of slim build, Hooker made his first-class debut in 1924-25. He swung the ball both ways at a brisk medium pace, and with his nagging accuracy he would have been a success in England. As it was, he played only for his state, taking 58 wickets at 26.32 and averaging 24.26 with the bat. A happy man, he turned to sports broadcasting either side of the war, and caused everlasting amusement with his recollection of prompting an umpire to measure Bill Ponsford's mammoth-scoring bat: it was fractionally over the regulation 4 ½ inches wide after its incessant pummeling of the ball. On Christmas Day 1928, Victoria's bowlers must have wondered if Hooker's own bat was within standard dimensions.
David Frith, Wisden Cricket Monthly
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