CRICKETER OF THE YEAR 1955

Bruce Dooland

Bruce Dooland, an Australian, did much to restore right-arm leg-break and googly bowling to an important place in the strategy of the game when, in his first two seasons in English first-class cricket, he took 368 wickets--172, average 16.58, in 1953, and 196, average 15.48, in 1954. In this way Dooland, born at Adelaide on November 1, 1923, became one of the most successful bowlers of his type since A. P. Freeman retired in 1936.

Like most noted Australian cricketers, Dooland played his early cricket as a child in the back garden. A concrete patch was the pitch and Walter Dooland, his father, encouraged him to make the ball spin. From Thebarton Central School, Dooland progressed to Adelaide High School and there, when fifteen, set up a record with 72 wickets in a season of eight matches. He did so well for his first senior club, West Torrens District, that in 1940-41 South Australia invited him to play against New South Wales. Dooland (17), thought his ambitions of becoming a first-class cricketer soon would be fulfilled, but his bank employers would not grant him leave and, with the war intervening, his State d├ębut was delayed for several years.

Demobilised in 1945 after service with a Commando unit of the Australian Forces in the Pacific Islands, Dooland signalised his return with the first hat-trick in post-war Australian cricket, for South Australia against Victoria. A visit to New Zealand in 1946 with a side captained by W. A. Brown followed, and recognition by his country came in 1946-47 when, on New Year"s Day, he figured in the Third Test against England. Dooland took the wickets of Washbrook, Hammond, Ikin and Voce for 69 runs in the first innings and, as a steady No. 10 batsman, helped McCool reach a century. Selected again for the Fourth Test, Dooland dismissed three batsmen in the first innings and scored 29 runs, but in the Fifth Test he stood down in favour of his friend and rival Tribe, who was passed over for him in the Third Test. Dooland played in only one other Test, the Third against India at Melbourne in 1948, and, although successful in State cricket, he decided, when failing to be chosen for the England tour of 1948, to look outside Australia for his future.

The same summer he went to England to begin an appointment as professional with East Lancashire, the Lancashire League club. In four years he twice helped them perform the double of the Lancashire League Cup and the Worsley Knock-out Cup. Nottinghamshire invited him to qualify and, in May 1953, he made his first appearance in county cricket, against Kent at Trent Bridge. Dooland did not obtain a wicket while conceding 97 runs, but the faith of his sponsors was soon rewarded. Against Surrey, the Champion County, he took five for 73 and four for 46, followed with nine wickets against both Worcestershire and Middlesex, and finished the season with twenty-two Somerset victims at Weston and Trent Bridge.

In 1953, he missed the double by 30 runs, but he performed the feat last summer when taking 196 wickets and scoring 1,012 runs. Sixteen wickets for 83 runs against Essex at Nottingham comprised the best analysis of his career; he took thirteen wickets apiece against Leicestershire and Northamptonshire at Nottingham and, but for rain in the Torquay Festival, probably would have reached 200 wickets for the season. His skill was recognised by his choice for Players against Gentlemen in 1953 and 1954 and in 1950-51 he visited India with the Commonwealth team. He made his highest score, 108 against an Indian XI, at New Delhi.

Dooland, who stands just over six feet and weighs twelve and a half stone, looks an athlete and, like most slow bowlers, is a keen theorist delighting in experiments. In England he classes himself mainly as a wrist spinner but, although not using his fingers so much, he finds the pitches enable him to make the ball break more sharply than in Australia. He uses the googly sparingly, occasionally bowls a top-spinner, changes pace and flight, and deceives batsmen by employing the same action for all variations. Height and high action allow him to make the ball lift awkwardly.

As a batsman Dooland is best at driving and cutting. He is an alert fieldsman in any position near the wicket. His other sporting interests include golf, at which his handicap is seven, and baseball, for which he gained an Australian cap.

A modest and pleasant personality, he is a credit to country and county. -- H. G.

© John Wisden & Co