Obituary

Sydney Gregory

ESPNcricinfo staff

GREGORY, MR. SYDNEY EDWARD, born on the site of the present cricket ground at Sydney, on April 14, 1870, died at Randwick, Sydney, on August 1, aged 59. It is given to few men to enjoy such a long and successful career in international cricket as that which fell to his lot, but he had cricket in his blood, for what the Graces and the Walkers were to the game in England, the Gregory family, it could be urged, was to that in Australia. Twelve years after his uncle Dave had come to England, as captain of the pioneer side of 1878, S. E. Gregory paid his first visit here as a member of the 1890 team under W. L. Murdoch, and he was chosen for every side up to and including that of 1912. On his first two visits here he did not quite realize expectations as a batsman--he completed his twentieth year on his way here in 1890--but he jumped to the top in the Australian season of 1894-95, and when in England in 1896 he batted brilliantly, scoring over 1,400 runs in all matches and coming out at the head of the averages.

Altogether he played in fifty-two Test Matches for Australia, a larger number than any other Australian cricketer. In the course of these he made four three-figure scores and obtained 2,193 runs with an average of 25.80. He captained the Australian team of 1912--the year of the Triangular Tournament--but had a somewhat thankless task in filling that office.Dissatisfied with the financial terms offered, several of the leading Australian cricketers refused to make the trip and the side, as finally constituted, included, in the regrettable circumstances, several players who had little claim to figure as representatives of the best in Australian cricket. He himself scored over a thousand runs but the team, although beating South Africa twice, had only a moderate record.

Pronounced and numerous as were his triumphs in batting, Sydney Gregory will probably be remembered more for what he accomplished as a fieldsman for, while several men have equalled and some have beaten his achievements as a run-getter, the cricket field has seen no more brilliant cover-point. Clever in anticipation and quick to move, he got to and stopped the hardest of hits, gathered the ball cleanly and returned it with deadly accuracy. His work, indeed, was always an inspiration to his colleagues and a joy to the spectators. Small of stature--he was little more than 5 feet in height --Gregory overcame this disadvantage in a batsman by splendid footwork. He possessed a very finished style, strong wrists and a keen eye. Particularly attractive in his strokes on the offside, he also, thanks to his quickness of movement, used to take balls off the middle stump with remarkable facility. The latter stroke, no doubt, cost him his wicket on many occasions but it brought him a lot of runs and, when successful, had a demoralising effect upon the bowler. He could stonewall when the situation called for those methods but his natural tendency was always to attack and, even when the ball turned a lot, his dashing game often knocked a bowler off his length. In short his cricket, both as batsman and fieldsman, suggested the bright and happy temperament which Sydney Gregory possessed in such full measure.

On the occasion when he made 201 against A. E. Stoddart's team, Australia put together a total of 586, England scoring 325, and, when they followed on, 437. Australia were thus left with 177 to get to win, and at the drawing of stumps on the fifth day had obtained 113 of these for the loss of only two wickets. The match was as good as over, but a drenching downpour of rain in the night, followed by bright sunshine, altered the whole aspect, and Peel and Briggs bowled with such effect that the side were all out for 166, England gaining a memorable victory by 10 runs.

In addition to his eight tours in England he visited America three times as well as South Africa and New Zealand. His benefit match, New South Wales v. Rest of Australia at Sydney in 1906-7 brought him in about £630. At Lord's in June, 1912, he was presented with a silver cup and a purse of £200 to mark his fiftieth appearance in Test cricket against England.

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