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Former Australia wicketkeeper Len Maddocks dies at 90

Len Maddocks played seven Tests for Australia in the 1950s Hulton Archive

Len Maddocks, the former wicketkeeper who played seven Tests for Australia during the 1950s, has died at the age of 90. Maddocks had become Australia's oldest living Test cricketer last year after the death of Arthur Morris; the oldest now is opening batsman Ken Archer, 88, who also played five Tests in the 1950s.

A short and nimble gloveman whose skill behind the stumps was such that he only once broke a finger, Maddocks was second in line to Gil Langley as Australia's wicketkeeper during the mid-1950s. Although he went on numerous tours with the Australian side, Maddocks' chances in the Test XI were limited.

He made his Test debut at his home ground, the MCG, against England in 1954-55, and top scored with 47 in his first innings. Again Maddocks was Australia's top scorer in the first innings of his second Test, with 69 against England in the Adelaide Oval Test of the same series.

A well-respected domestic cricketer, he captained both Victoria and Tasmania during a first-class career that spanned more than 20 years. Although Tasmania was not part of the Sheffield Shield competition during his playing time, Maddocks later joined the ACB as a board member and was proud of his work chairing a sub-committee that organised the state's inclusion in the Shield.

As an administrator, he is also remembered for being Australia's team manager on the 1977 Ashes tour of England, when the World Series Cricket split came to light. In later years, Maddocks was philosophical about his involvement at such a fractious time, telling ESPNcricinfo in 2012 that "somebody had to [be the manager], and all you can do is your best".

Maddocks will also go down in history as the final victim in what came to be known as "Laker's match", when England offspinner Jim Laker took 19 wickets in the Manchester Test of 1956. Maddocks was trapped lbw to complete Laker's 10-wicket haul in the second innings.

"Bradman wouldn't have lasted on that pitch," Maddocks said in 2011. "Colin McDonald and Jimmy Burke were the openers and batted well, and Ian Craig played a reasonable innings. The rest of us could hardly put bat to ball."

Born in 1926 in Beaconsfield, now an outer south-eastern suburb of Melbourne, Leonard Victor Maddocks was raised in the inner-western suburb of Newport. He was one of three brothers, and cricket played a major part in his upbringing: he remembered playing in four separate competitions of a weekend, one each on Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, then another pair of games on Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon.

"After each day's play, dad would discuss with us the things that had happened, where other kids had made mistakes and where we could have done better," Maddocks said in 2012. "Mum used to go to all of our cricket, all of our football, all of our baseball. We'd set out from home at Newport with the old man out front on his bike, then my older brother Alan, then me, then Dick on our three bikes.

"Behind us came Mum, and the old man had built a little platform thing on her bike so that she could carry the soft drinks and the afternoon tea and the scorebooks. She had to score. I remember saying to her later in life, 'how did you put up with us Mum?' She said, 'if I hadn't put up with you and gone with you, I would never have seen any of you!' They were great days."

Maddocks was also a talented Australian rules footballer and was on North Melbourne's list during the 1940s, but never played a senior game. His brother Dick played five senior VFL games for North Melbourne also represented Victoria in cricket, but died of a heart attack at the age of 40. Len Maddocks was more fortunate in his health: he survived a heart attack in his 70s.

After his first-class career finished, Maddocks continued playing club cricket until the age of 46. His son Ian, also a wicketkeeper, went on to play 25 matches for Victoria.