William Maldon Woodfull
August 22, 1897, Maldon, Victoria
August 11, 1965, Tweed Heads South, New South Wales, (aged 67y 354d)
Right hand Bat
Bill Woodfull, who collapsed and died while playing golf on a course near Brisbane on August 11 1965, aged 67, played as an opening batsman in 35 Test matches for Australia and captained them in 25. Known as "The Rock" because of his imperturbable temperament, he possessed immensely strong defence and great patience. Yet, though the backlift of his bat was very short indeed, his weight and strength of wrist enabled him to score at a faster rate than many a more attractive player.
During a Test career extending from 1926 to 1934, he hit 2300 runs for an average of 46.00, the highest of his seven centuries being 161 against South Africa at Melbourne in 1931-32. He shared nine three-figure stands in Test matches, three with his fellow Victorian, WH Ponsford, during the tour of England in 1930 - 162 at Lord's, 159 at The Oval and 106 at Old Trafford. In all first-class cricket he hit 49 centuries, the highest of which was 284 for an Australian XI against a New Zealand XI at Auckland in 1927-28. Three times he toured England and on each occasion he well exceeded 1000 runs. In 1926, after making 201 against Essex at Leyton in his first innings on English soil, he headed the batting figures with an aggregate of 1809 (eight centuries), average 58.35; in 1930, as captain, he made 1435 runs (six centuries), average 57.36 and four years later when again leading the side 1268 runs (three centuries), average 52.83.
For Victoria, Bill Woodfull registered 16 centuries, of which the biggest was 275 not out, from the bowling of APF Chapman's MCC team at Melbourne in 1928-29. His most prolific opening partnership for the State was 375 with Ponsford against New South Wales in 1926-27 at Melbourne.
Woodfull led Australia against DR Jardine's team during the notorious Bodyline tour in Australia in 1932-33. Though he achieved little against this menacing form of bowling in the first two Test matches, four innings bringing him no more than 43 runs, he displayed such grit and determination in the remaining three that he put together innings of 73 not out, 67 and 67.
He achieved distinction in another field. He was Headmaster of Melbourne High School and in the New Year's Honours list of 1963, he received the OBE for his services to education.
His quiet, unassuming demeanour won him respect and affection from team-mates and opponents alike, and tributes to him included:
RWV Robins (former Middlesex and England captain): As a man he was very kindly and as a batsman he had a wonderful defence. Only once did I have the distinction of getting him out - at Lord's in the second Test in 1930. By then he had made 155 and I think he fell through sheer exhaustion!
H Sutcliffe (former Yorkshire and England opening batsman): First-class as a man and a great fighter. As a batsman he always took such a lot of getting out and as a captain he was a fine leader.
Sir Donald Bradman (former Australian captain): He was a great gentleman, a fine citizen and an ornament to the game of cricket.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Bill Woodfull Career Stats
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Debut/Last Matches of Bill Woodfull