Clement Hill

HILL, MR. CLEMENT, the Australian left-handed batsman, ranked among the finest cricketers in the world during a long period, died on September 5, aged 68. Born at Adelaide on March 18, 1877, the son of H. J. Hill, who scored the first century on Adelaide Oval, Clem Hill excelled his brothers--all good at the game--and when 16 he put together the remarkable score of 360 in an Inter-College match at Adelaide. This was the highest innings hit in Australia at that time, 1893, and young Clem Hill gave clear indication of the skill which matured without a check.

Soon after completing his 18th year he scored 150 not out 56 for South Australia against A. E. Stoddart's team in 1895, and a year later, with Harry Trott as captain, he made the first of four visits to England. Third in the averages, he established himself as being worthy of a place in any eleven, and when next Stoddart took a side to Australia, Hill exceeded the highest expectations by scoring 829 runs in twelve innings, his average of 75 far surpassing that of both K. S. Ranjitsinhji and A. C. MacLaren, the chief batsmen in the touring side. That season he scored 200 for South Australia against the visiting team, and his 188 at Melbourne in the fourth Test, when Australia began so badly as to lose six men for 57, was largely responsible for a victory by eight wickets. This innings was considered the finest that Clem Hill ever played.

Coming to England with the side under the captaincy of Joe Darling, another fine left-handed batsman, in 1899, he showed splendid form until taken ill early in July. He and Victor Trumper each scored 135 at Lord's, sharing the chief honours in beating England by ten wickets, and so helping largely to win the rubber: for this was the only decisive result in the five Tests. He headed the averages for the tour with 60.20. To prove that even such a splendid batsman may fail it is interesting to recall that in the second innings of the third Test at Leeds, the order of batting being altered, he fell the first victim of a hat-trick by J. T. Hearne; Hill was clean bowled, S. E. Gregory and M. A. Noble were both caught in the slips. From 1896 to 1912 he played in 49 Test matches, 41 against England, eight against South Africa; he captained Australia when South Africa were the visitors in 1910, and in the following season against the England touring side, led by J. W. H. T. Douglas owing to the illness of P. F. Warner.

As a rule Clem Hill, going in first wicket down, was at his best on the important occasion and in Test matches he scored 3,412 runs; average 39. He hit seven centuries against South Africa and four against England, besides 96, 99, 98 and 97. The innings of 98 and 97 were the highest scores for Australia at Adelaide in January 1902 and, with Trumble's all-round work, brought about the defeat of England by four wickets. These displays followed his 99 which helped in a victory by 229 runs at Melbourne--three consecutive scores just short of the century in Tests with England.

A specially brilliant batsman on hard pitches, Clem Hill scored 6,274 runs, average 52.28 in Sheffield Shield matches--a record until beaten by Don Bradman. His highest innings was 365 not out for South Australia against New South Wales at Adelaide in December 1900, his average that season being 103.33. In similar matches he made 206 not out at Sydney in 1895 and 205 at Adelaide in 1909.

While able to drive hard to the off or straight, usually with the ball kept down, Clem Hill scored chiefly on the leg side by skilful strokes perfectly timed and placed, the way in which he turned straight balls clear of fieldsmen being exceptional. Brilliant square and late cutting made Hill delightful to watch and in defence his style claimed admiration while his patience was unlimited. A splendid field particularly in the deep, Clem Hill brought off one catch that will never be forgotten by the spectators at the third Test match at Old Trafford in 1902. When England wanted eight runs for victory with two wickets in hand Dick Lilley made a square-leg hit which looked like carrying the pavilion rails, but as Hill ran from long-on the wind seemed to check the force of the hit. The ball fell almost straight and Hill, racing across its flight, with outstretched hands, held it, so accepting a chance that few fieldsmen would have thought worth attempting. Australia won by three runs, and the victory, following success at Sheffield, where Hill scored 119, by far the highest innings in the match, gave them the rubber, a triumph to which Hill's amazing catch contributed to an unknown degree. Rain ruined the first two Tests and England won the last by one wicket.

Two Australian Test match partnership records stand to his name--165 for the seventh wicket with H. Trumble at Melbourne in January 1897, and 243 for the eighth wicket with R. J. Hartigan at Adelaide in January 1908. On that second occasion an attack of influenza prevented Hill from fielding, but he batted five hours twenty minutes for 160, and Australia, after being 78 behind on the first innings, won by 245 runs.

Besides Clem Hill, two other members of the 1896 team in England died within a period of four months, C. J. Eady on December 3 and Joseph Darling on January 2, 1946.

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