Obituary, 2004

Doug Ring

RING, DOUGLAS THOMAS, died on June 23, 2003, aged 84. Doug Ring was one of the spear-carriers for the 1948 Australian Invincibles, cheerfully describing himself as one of the "groundstaff bowlers" as he wheeled round the counties without getting near the Test team until the morning of the final Test, when Bradman asked Ring to sit alongside him in the taxi and told him he was playing. Ring was a wrist-spinner in an era when Australia had plenty of choice - Colin McCool, Bruce Dooland and fellow-Victorian George Tribe were all capped against England in 1946-47, and it was February 1948, the last Test against India, before Ring got a look-in. Match figures of six for 120 won him selection for England, and the captain's admiration, which he retained. Bradman said Ring bowled consistently well in England, and would have played far more but for the rule then in force permitting the new ball after only 55 overs. He won a regular place at home against West Indies and South Africa in 1951-52 and 1952-53, taking six for 72 against South Africa at Brisbane. He was also instrumental in one of the most thrilling of all Test wins. When last man Bill Johnston, his club-mate at Richmond, joined him at the MCG crease on the last day of the New Year Test in 1952, the Australians were 38 short of victory and the West Indians were one wicket away from squaring the series 2-2. Ring thumped 14 from one Valentine over, took 11 off another by Ramadhin and clinched the series. This was achieved with a borrowed bat - Ring never took himself or his batting seriously enough to acquire one - and accompanied by roars of "C'mon the Tigers", the nickname for Richmond. He played again in the Lord's Test of 1953, when Willie Watson and Trevor Bailey famously held out for a draw. Had Ray Lindwall caught Watson at short leg off Ring, Australia would probably have kept the Ashes. On that tour, he passed on the secret of his sliding top-spinner to the young Richie Benaud. Afterwards, he concentrated on captaining Richmond, working as a civil servant in a department run by Sir Robert Menzies's brother, Les, who in keeping with family tradition considered Ring's frequent absences to commentate on cricket for radio and TV entirely reasonable. He kept his cheerful, legspinner's disposition: "I never got mad about the game, because it was a game" he once said. Though the joke has persisted down the decades, there is no record that the famous scatological scorecard entry, Crapp c Hole b Ring, ever occurred.

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