Obituary

Charles Macartney

MACARTNEY, MR. CHARLES GEORGE, who died in Sydney on September 9, aged 72, was one of the most brilliant and attractive right-handed batsmen in the history of Australian cricket. Daring and confident, he possessed a quickness of eye, hand and foot, a perfection of timing which made him a menace to the best of bowlers. Sydney H. Pardon, then Editor of Wisden, wrote of him in 1921 as "a law to himself -- an individual genius, but not in any way to be copied. He constantly did things that would be quite wrong for an ordinary batsman, but by success justified all his audacities. Except Victor Trumper at his best, no Australian batsman has ever demoralised our bowlers to the same extent."

Of medium height and stocky build, "The Governor-General," as MacArtney came to be known, was specially good in cutting and hitting to leg, though there was no stroke, orthodox or unorthodox, of which he did not show himself master. Intolerant of batsmen who did not treat bowling upon its merits, he was quoted as giving, not long before his death, as the reason why he had ceased to be a regular cricket spectator: "I can't bear watching luscious half-volleys being nudged gently back to bowlers." Yet in regard to his own achievements this man with the Napoleonic features could not have been more modest; he had no regard at all for records or averages, nor was he ever known to complain about an umpire's decision.

How punishing a batsman he could be was never more fully demonstrated than in 1921 when, at Trent Bridge, he took such full advantage of a missed chance when nine that he reached 345 from the Nottinghamshire bowling in less than four hours with four 6's and forty-seven 4's among his figures. This still stands as the highest innings put together by an Australian in England and, furthermore, no other batsman in first-class cricket has scored as many runs in a single day. It was also the third of four centuries in following innings, the others being 105 v. Hampshire at Southampton, 193 v. Northamptonshire at Northampton and 115 v. England at Leeds, where he performed the rare feat of getting to three figures before lunch.

From the time that he made his first appearance for Australia in 1907 till he ended his Test career in 1926, MacArtney represented his country 35 times, scoring 2,132 runs, including seven centuries, average 41.80. His highest Test innings was 170 against England at Sydney in 1920-21. He headed the Australia averages with 86.66 that season and also figured at the top in England in 1926 when, with the aid of innings of 151, 133 not out and 109, his average was 94.60. He took part in twelve Test partnerships of 100 or more, the biggest being 235 with W. M. Woodfull for the second wicket against England at Leeds in 1926.

For all the batting prowess he revealed later, it was as a slow left-arm bowler that MacArtney did his best work when first visiting England in 1909. During the tour he took 71 wickets at a cost of 17.46 runs each, and he played a big part in the overthrow of England at Leeds by dismissing seven batsmen for 58 runs in the first innings and four for 27 in the second. In an unofficial Australian tour of America in 1913, his ability as an all-rounder reached such heights that he hit 2,390 runs and took 180 wickets, finishing at the top of both sets of averages. As a fieldsman, particularly at mid-off, he had few equals.

He accomplished much fine work for New South Wales, for whom he first played in 1905, scoring 2,443 runs, average 42.12, with 201 against Victoria in 1913-14 his highest innings. Twice he got two separate centuries in a match -- 119 and 126 for his State against the South Africans in 1910-11 and 142 and 121 for the Australians against Sussex at Hove in 1912. In all cricket his runs numbered 15,003, average 45.87, and he hit 48 hundreds.

Of him, Sir Jack Hobbs said: "I saw him begin his Test career in Australia and we thought him a very unorthodox player, but we soon realised he was brilliant. He hit particularly hard through the covers and frequently cut even fast bowlers off his stumps. He certainly had a wonderful eye. He was a charming fellow and a highly confident cricketer."

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