Full name Thomas Wentworth Wills
Born August 19, 1835, Molonglo Plains, New South Wales
Died May 2, 1880, Heidelberg, Melbourne, Victoria (aged 44 years 257 days)
Major teams Cambridge University, Kent, Victoria
Also known as Thomas Wentworth Spencer Wills
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm fast (roundarm), Right-arm slow (underarm)
Education Rugby School
|First-class debut||Gentlemen of Kent v Gentlemen of England at Canterbury, Aug 17-18, 1854 scorecard|
It can be argued with justification that Tom Wills was Australia's first great sportsman, credited with being the first cricketer of significance and a pioneer of what was to become Australian Rules Football.
Born in Australia - his grandfather had been deported for robbery - he grew up close to Aborigines and spoke their language, before being sent to Rugby School in England when he was 14, where he excelled at cricket and rugby. He returned home and emerged as a leading cricketer in Victoria.
Nine years earlier he had chaired a meeting of the Melbourne Football Club at which the first rules were set down, and he subsequently helped in the formation of several other clubs.
However, his life thereafter was a story of decline, as he slid into alcoholism. He was in and out of asylums until stabbing himself to death with a pair of scissors at the age of 44.
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