November 01, 1923, Cowandilla, Adelaide, South Australia
September 08, 1980, Bedford Park, Adelaide, South Australia, (aged 56y 312d)
Right hand Bat
Bruce Dooland, who died suddenly in his home town of Adelaide on September 8 at the age of 56, was special on two counts. He was a legspinner, with claims to being considered the best produced anywhere in the world post-war. And he was one of a distinguished band of excellent cricketers who came to the forefront in Australia in the late 1940s at a time when competition was exceptionally keen for Test places, so that he like so many others failed to gain the honours he deserved.
He played only three Tests - two against England in that first peacetime series of 1946-47, and one next season against India. But his nine Test wickets cost him 46 runs apiece, and he averaged only 19 with the bat, so that when the 1948 team to tour England was chosen, two less-skilled but more immediately successful legspinners in Colin McCool and Doug Ring were picked ahead of him.
So he joined the procession of Australians headed for league cricket in England, and while Bradman's men rampaged up and down a cricket-hungry country, clobbering national and county sides with equal enthusiasm, Bruce Dooland made his mark with East Lancashire.
Faithful to legspin - unlike others like Greg Chappell, who two decades later switched to seam bowling on the green wickets of the league game - Dooland in four years twice helped East Lancashire to the double of league cup and Worsley knockout cup. He aggregated 361 wickets at just 10 apiece, scored 2688 runs at an average of 38, and inspired Nottinghamshire to engage him.
He made his county debut in May, 1953 - the year that Lindsay Hassett brought a much less successful Australian side to England - and after conceding 97 runs against Kent at Trent Bridge without taking a wicket, he quickly slipped into gear. He wrecked Surrey, the champion county, with a match aggregate of 9 for 119, steadily found his footing in the day-in-day-out routine of the county game, and missed the double of 100 wickets and 1000 runs by only 30 runs in that first season.
He spent five years with Notts, which brought him 748 wickets and 4492 runs, taking 100 or more wickets each season, twice achieving the double, and earning selection for Players v Gentlemen in 1953 and 1954; he made a trip to India with the Commonwealth side of 1950-51. He had played for South Australia for four seasons from 1945-46, taking the first post-war hat-trick in Australian big cricket, against Victoria in his first year with SA and he played again with his home State in 1957-58.
In 1961 he briefly returned to competitive cricket at the age of 37 when appointed coach of West Torrens in the South Australian district competition. But figures and statistics are never the sum total of any cricketer, and Bruce Dooland, thoughtful and pleasant, was always an ornament to the game. Tall and athletic in build, he delivered the ball with a high, graceful action and flighted it in mesmeric fashion that made the deepest impression on this youthful enthusiast when first seen in action at the MCG in 1946.
He could spin the ball sharply, but was never extravagant, preferring controlled variation with the embroidery of the 'flipper', which he imparted to a later generation in Richie Benaud. Perhaps surprisingly he was also an outstanding baseballer who played for both South Australia and Australia, although on the cricket field he was more often a close fieldsman than an outfielder employing the hefty baseballers' throw.
A bank official before he became a full-time cricketer, he was first invited to play for SA in 1940-41 at the age of 17, but his employers would not allow him time off, and then the war - in which he served as a commando in the Pacific islands - further delayed his debut. In his forties he was still close enough
to cricket to turn out as a guest for an Adelaide journalists' team in their annual match against a local Catholic college - and took the hat-trick, much to everyone's delight.
Wisden Cricket Monthly
Batting & Fielding