Obituary

Leo O'Brien

O'BRIEN, LEO PATRICK JOSEPH, who died on March 13, 1997, aged 89, was the oldest Australian Test cricketer, and his death left Sir Donald Bradman as the sole survivor from either side of the Bodyline series. He played for Australia only five times, but these included the Second and Fifth Tests of 1932-33, and he was at the other end when MCC were playing an Australian XI at Melbourne earlier in the tour and he saw five fielders going on to the leg side for Woodfull. "It's the right-hander down that end," he reputedly told the fielders, trying to be helpful. "I'm the left-hander." He made a determined 46 that day, and was picked for the Melbourne Test. He made 10 and 11 in Australia's only victory, but came back in the last Test at Sydney to make 61.

O'Brien was not picked to tour England in 1934, but went to South Africa in 1935-36 and scored 59 and 48 in his two Tests, which were both won by an innings. His final appearance was against England at Sydney the following season, when he scored 0 and 17; he had gone by the next game when Australia began to turn the series round. He was a left-handed bat of the most determined sort, who played for the Melbourne club Richmond before making his debut for Victoria in 1929-30. O'Brien was also a first-rate baseball player, and an amateur boxer who won every fight except his last. Later, he worked for the tax department, coached in Asia and bred racehorses as a hobby. He was a friendly man and sociable cricketer, who kept playing into his seventies, and for more than fifty years of his life played at least one match a year on the MCG.

© John Wisden & Co