Full name William Alfred Brown
Born July 31, 1912, Toowoomba, Queensland
Died March 16, 2008, Murrumba Downs, Queensland (aged 95 years 229 days)
Major teams Australia, New South Wales, Queensland
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm offbreak
|Test debut||England v Australia at Nottingham, Jun 8-12, 1934 scorecard|
|Last Test||England v Australia at Lord's, Jun 24-29, 1948 scorecard|
|First-class span||1932/33 - 1949/50|
WA (Bill) Brown was an outstanding opening batsman and excellent fieldsman for Australia on either side of the Second World War, his achievements perhaps overshadowed by his more lauded contemporaries. He averaged nearly 47 in Tests, and over fifty in first-class cricket, making 39 first-class hundreds. He would have undoubtedly played more Test cricket if it were not for the war. An unspectacular bat, he was a superb glancer, and deft placer of the ball. He had a full range of shots, however, and was hard to tie down.
Brown's cricket career got off to a most inauspicious start when in his debut first-class innings for New South Wales in 1932 he was run out for a duck without facing a ball. He made a good impression in the Sheffield Shield, and to the surprise of some was picked to tour England in 1934. He had an outstanding tour; his 119 against Lancashire earned him a place in the first Test, where his second innings 73 helped Australia earn victory after Woodfull, Ponsford and Bradman had failed. He made his debut Test hundred in the second Test, as Australia experienced a rare loss at Lord's, and was promoted to open with Ponsford in the third Test where he made a useful 72. He failed in the final two Tests, but had proven himself as a Test player of class, ending up third in the Test averages.
He scored consistently on the 1935-36 tour of South Africa, with four fifties and a century in the five Tests, but was less successful in the two home Tests he played against England. 1936 saw him accept a coaching position in Brisbane and he represented Queensland from 1936-37. In 1937-38 he was appointed Queensland captain and by 1938 he was at the height of his ability, and stood out in a side marked by outstanding batsmen (Bradman, Fingleton, McCabe and Hassett). He made a century in the first Test after Australia had followed on, and he carried his bat for a superb unbeaten 206 at Lord's. He missed the third Test through injury, but was the top Australian scorer in either innings at the Oval Test so dominated by Hutton.
During the war he served in the Pacific with the RAAF as a flight lieutenant. After the war he was not the dominating player he had been before, and he had lost possibly his most productive cricket years. He did captain Australia in their inaugural Test against New Zealand, presiding over a 2-day rout, and making the highest score of the match. In the final Test against India in 1947-48 he was most unluckily run out for 99, but was chosen to tour England with the "Invincibles" in 1948. He played in the first two Tests but then lost his place to Neil Harvey. He made eight centuries on that tour, but with the advent of fine young players like Morris and Harvey, he retired at the end of the following season after captaining the Australian second team to New Zealand. He was a Queensland selector from 1950-51 to 1959-60 and an Australian selector in 1952-53. In 1992 the Queensland Cricket Association elected him a life member.
A likeable, popular and modest man was awarded Medal of the Order of Australia in 2000 for services to cricket. He died on March 16, 2008, aged 95, after being ill for a few months.
Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1939
Awarded Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2000 Queen's Birthday honours list for services to cricket
Thirty years ago England were battered, bruised, broken and blackwashed in the Caribbean