Douglas Thomas Ring
October 14, 1918, Hobart, Tasmania
June 23, 2003, Melbourne, Victoria, (aged 84y 252d)
Right hand Bat
The burly, beamish Doug Ring never appeared a great cricketer, but that was mainly because he played in a team and an era full of them. As it was, his leg-spin was thoughtful, his batting hearty and his record impressive enough to earn him inclusion in Sir Donald Bradman's all-conquering Ashes team of 1948. In 13 Tests over almost six years, he obtained 35 wickets at 37.28 and 426 runs at 22.42. He might have achieved more but for spending most of his 20s in the army, and injuring his back while lifting the gun carriage of a twenty-five pounder in New Guinea.
Ring adjusted his action as a result, becoming slightly more open-chested; on the advice of a Dr Searby from East Melbourne, he would prepare for cricket by rolling round on the dressing room floor. He made up for biomechanical impairment with sagacity. His main variation was a useful sliding top-spinner, which he passed on to the young Richie Benaud when they toured England in 1953, plucking an apple out of a bowl of fruit while the Australians were travelling on a train between matches.
Ring also bowled a rudimentary flipper learned from his Richmond captain-coach Les Keating, which occasionally gripped and darted in. A favourite wicket was that of Ken Funston at the Gabba in December 1952. Funston, having hit Ring's leg-break for six, padded up to the next ball and was bowled as it turned traitorously from the off: a collector's piece of wrist-spin. Ring's 6-72 that day were his best Test figures.
Ring's best series, though, was against the West Indies in 1951-52: his 6 for 80 in the second innings at Brisbane included Walcott, Worrell and captain John Goddard. He then followed 65 at Sydney and 67 at Adelaide with a decisive unbeaten 32 at Melbourne. Left 38 to win and his Richmond teammate Bill Johnston as a partner, Ring hit and ran so fearlessly that the tourists surrendered their tight grip on the match.
With an abiding interest in history, Ring relished touring England; but his acutest cricket disappointment was failing to break the famous resistance of Willie Watson and Trevor Bailey at Lord's in 1953. Had short-leg Ray Lindwall accepted a chance Watson offered from Ring late on the Monday, England would have been 4-19, and there would have been no heroic 163-run partnership on Tuesday. As it was, Ring eventually disposed of batsmen but by then too little time remained to prosecute victory.
Ring joined Victoria's Department of Primary Industries as a clerk in 1946, working for Les Menzies, brother of Sir Robert, Australia's longest-serving prime minister. In addition to his 36-year public service career, he called the 1958-59 Ashes series for radio station 3DB, then became the cricket correspondent of World of Sport, a long-running omnibus sports programme on television station HSV-7, in 1961.
Gideon Haigh, Wisden Cricket Monthly, 2003
Batting & Fielding