2000

Obituaries in 1999

JACK MORONEY came late to big cricket because of the Second World War, and failed to secure the regular Test place many believed he deserved. His fielding was heavy-footed, and his reputation for dour batting was not helped by an odd reluctance to use his power, sparking the observation by RS Whitington that he batted `like a purposeless porpoise'. Moroney grumbled that maintaining discipline as a school-master was difficult enough, without irreverent pupils being offered such a tag for their teacher.

John Rodger Moroney was educated at Sydney's St Joseph's College, and later taught there. Brother Henry, his sportsmaster, tagged him the most talented boy he had coached - ahead even of Stan McCabe. Moroney started his teaching career in country schools, so didn't enter Sydney grade cricket until he was 26. Originally a right-hander in the middle order, he switched to opening in 1948-49 and topped the domestic first-class averages with 81.54 - including a massive 217 in the Alan Kippax-Bert Oldfield testimonial match - and won a place on Lindsay Hassett's 1949-50 tour of South Africa, Australia's first post-Bradman series.

Moroney helped his cause by trimming three years from his age for his state registration form, at the suggestion of NSW wicket keeper Ron Saggers. Run out for a debut duck at Johannesburg, Moroney relished his return to Ellis Park for the fourth Test, with 118 in the first innings- he and Arthur Morris (111) put on 214 - and 101 not out in the second. In all, Moroney scored 1487 runs on the tour, with six hundreds, and seemed set for a long run as Morris's opening partner. But a pair in the First Test of the 1950-51 Ashes series, on a rain-affected Brisbane sticky (see below) brought summary rejection.

Although Moroney continued to score well for NSW, he played only one more Test - against John Goddard's West Indies- and retired from first-class cricket at the end of that 1951-52 season. Blessed with determination and a sound technique, he batted effectively in the Newcastle first-grade competition into his fifties - rare in top-class club cricket in Australia. In 57 first-class matches he averaged 52.24, with 12 centuries: those seven Tests brought him 383 runs at 34.83.

Moroney died in Orange, New South Wales, on July 1, aged 81. He is survived by his wife, Bobbie, two sons, two daughters, five grandchildren, and two sisters who are nuns.

It was Jack Moroney's bad luck that what turned out to be his only Ashes Test was played in part on an evil rain-affected Brisbane pitch - known in those days of uncovered wickets as a `sticky dog'.

Moroney already had one failure under his belt before the rain complicated matters. He turned the fourth ball that 1950-51 series, from Trevor Bailey, to Len Hutton at leg slip. Australia's 228 was a modest total on a blameless pitch, but it soon looked enormous. Violent storms washed out the second day, and when play resumed the ball turned, leapt and spat as the unpredictable surface dried out.

England managed to crawl to 68 for 7, then declared 160 behind to get Australia in on the terror track. They were soon 0 for 3 - Moroney lbw b Bailey 0, to complete his pair - before Lindsay Hassett declared at 32 for 7 (score board below). By the close of a day in which 20 wickets fell for 130 England chasing 193, were 30 for 6 - including three wickets in the last over, among them Arthur McIntyre run out trying a fourth.

Hutton, England's most accomplished batsman, was held back to No. 8 in an attempt to avoid the worst of the pitch, but this was a tactical error. He did score a fighting 62 not out, but the others managed only 60 between them. All out 122: Australia won by 70 runs. They made only one change for next Test - Moroney was dropped, and replaced by Ken Archer, a decision which seems rather harsh in retrospect. The Aussies won the next three Tests before Freddie Brown's side managed a consolation victory in the last, at Melbourne.

A STYLISH right-hander who opened the batting and the bowling for India during an up-and-down Test career, Motganhalli Laxminarsu Jaisimha died in Sanikpuri, Secunderabad on July 6 after a battle with lung cancer. He was 60.

` Jai' had a carefree approach to cricket and life which certainly cost him Test caps - he finished with 39 - and probably ruled him out as a captain too. He was revered in Hyderabad, whose side he captained for 14 successive seasons before he retired in 1976-77 and turned to coaching.

Jaisimha made his first-class debut at 15 - he made 90 and took three wickets - and at 20 was selected for India's 1959 tour of England. His only Test of that trip came at Lord's, where he made just 1 and 8, but he collected a record on his next appearance. Recalled for the final encounter against Richie Benaud's Australian tourists in Jan 1960, Jaisimha became the first to bat on all five days of a Test, in the course of innings of 20 not out and 74. And in the next Test of an already eventful career, against Pakistan at Kanpur in 1960-61, he was run out for 99, after a marathon 505-minute innings during which he reined in his natural tendency for free-flowing front-foot drives. (Not surprisingly, all five Tests of that series were drawn.)

He was not to remain, like his sometime Test team-mate Rusi Surti, one of those unfortunates with a highest Test score one off the magic three figures. When England toured in 1961-62, Jai reeled off scores of 56, 51 and 70 before a stroke-filled 127 in the rain-affected third Test at Delhi.

Ted Dexter, England's captain in that series, remembers him well: `He was a tallish chap, a nice free player - a natural timer of the ball, especially good off the front foot. He got a lot of runs against us, and that century was a particularly good one.He also used to open the bowling, with his little awayswingers. The pitches were such flat mud-strips that they didn't bother with proper opening bowlers, just used the batsmen to take the shine off the new ball for the spinners.'

There were two more Test centuries to follow in a total of 2056 runs (30.68): 129 against England at Calcutta in 1963-64, and 101 v Australia at Brisbane in 1967-68-this days after flying in as a replacement for the injured Chandrasekhar and scoring 74 in the first innings.

Jaisimha was always a heavy scorer at domestic level, and his original omission from that Australian tour was as baffling as his exclusion from the under powered side which came to England in 1967 and lost all three Tests. It doesn't seem to have been a clash with the skipper, the Nawab of Pataudi, who always rated him highly. Jaisimha's last Test came in the West Indies in 1970-71, just before the introduction of one-day internationals, which would have suited his expansive game down to the ground.

He played on for Hyderabad until 1976-77, and in all first-class cricket scored 13,515 runs at 37.54. The highest of his 33 centuries was 259 for Hyderabad v Bengal at Secunderabad in 1964-65.

A briskish offspinner who sometimes throttled up to open the bowling, he took 431 wickets at 29.86, although only nine of those came in Tests at the high average of 92.11. A superb fielder anywhere, he took 157 catches. He leaves a widow and two sons, one of whom, Vivek, also played first-class cricket.
Steven Lynch

© John Wisden & Co