Graeme Blake Hole
January 06, 1931, Concord West, Sydney, New South Wales
February 14, 1990, Kensington Gardens, Adelaide, South Australia, (aged 59y 39d)
Right hand Bat
Right arm Offbreak
North Sydney Boys' High
Graeme Hole played in 18 Tests for Australia from 1951 to 1955 and toured England under Lindsay Hassett in the summer of 1953. The verdict on his Test career must be that it was deeply disappointing both to the player and the selectors, who kept faith with him for as long as they reasonably could. When he was summoned to the colours against England in February 1951, he seemed to have everything in his favour, not least his personal charm, good looks and grace of movement. He batted stylishly, could bowl offbreaks, and fielded in any position. He seemed to possess all the qualities needed for the captaincy of Australia. Hole was nineteen and playing for the St. George club in Sydney grade cricket when, in 1949-50, he was picked to represent New South Wales against Victoria in what was in effect the Sheffield Shield final. He managed only 23 and 6 with the bat, but taking six for 61 in the match he helped his side win by 196 runs. It was a useful début. That winter, he moved to Adelaide and became an automatic choice for South Australia until he retired in 1957-58. In 1950-51 he made 478 runs in the Shield for an average of 39.83, and in the state's two matches against MCC he batted well, without scoring heavily. Chosen for the final Test at Melbourne, when Australia had already somewhat fortuitously built up a 4-0 lead in the rubber, he made 63 in the second innings but could do little more than delay England's first victory since 1938. He also helped to make it slightly less emphatic by bowling Hutton for 79. In 1951-52, however, he suffered a considerable setback, scoring only 190 runs in nine innings against West Indies. He achieved little of note, apart from 45 not out in the second innings at Brisbane, when he remained imperturbable in a crisis, and 62 at Sydney in the final game, and his form in the Sheffield Shield, until he made a fine century against Queensland, was moderate. Next season, when the South Africans tested Australia to the full, drawing the series 2-2, he disappointed once again, the highest of some useful scores being a stylish 59 in the Fourth Test at Adelaide. Outside the Tests he fared better against the South Africans, with a well-made 97 for an Australian XIat Sydney and 102 for South Australia in Adelaide at the end of the tour. In the Sheffield Shield, helped by not outs, he averaged more than 80, and South Australia were winners for the first time since the Bradman era.
By the time Hole toured England in 1953, the balance of power was swinging the home country's way, and they recovered the Ashes at The Oval at the end of a fascinating series in which runs were generally hard to come by. Tried as an opener at Trent Bridge, in those days the traditional venue for the First Test, he twice succumbed to Bedser, for 0 and 5. But at Lord's he made a useful 47 in Australia's second innings, as well as taking four catches in the slips, and at Old Trafford he helped Harvey put on 173 for the fourth wicket in Australia's first innings of 318. In the tense struggle which followed at Headingley, Hole was very much in action: he had scored 53 when he was brilliantly caught by Lock off Bedser in the first innings, and was 33 when, with Australia going for the runs, he was caught by Graveney from a hit which looked like carrying six over the square-leg boundary. After that, Australia were forced to give up the chase. At The Oval he played very well for 37 on the first day. Finishing with 273 runs for an average of 27.30, he was fourth in the Test averages behind Hassett, Morris and Harvey, and while he had certainly not lost ground, nor had he gained much. For the whole tour he made 1,118 runs at 33.87, as well as taking 22 catches. His bowling was rarely used.
Back at home in 1953-54 Hole made 670 runs for South Australia in a Sheffield Shield season which for once was not overshadowed by Test matches and a touring team. On Christmas Day 1953, against Queensland at Adelaide, he made 171 and then went on to 226, his only double-century. But the next summer, after an excellent 57 at Brisbane against Hutton's team, he was bowled three times in succession by Tyson at Sydney and Melbourne and was swept away in the wreckage of Australia's batting, never to be called upon again. His generous backlift, coupled with a long, lazy swing of the bat as he shaped his strokes, much have left him vulnerable to extreme speed. However, his failure to establish himself as a Test batsman was more one of temperament that technique. There were occasions when he came tantalisingly close to the breakthrough: one large score might well have done the trick. He had three more seasons for South Australia before being forced to retire when he ruptured his spleen taking an acrobatic catch off Dooland's bowling to dismiss Sam Loxton. In all first-class matches he made 5,647 runs for and average of 36.66, including eleven hundreds, and took 61 wickets at 44.03. His 82 catches were mostly at slip, where he became a specialist. In Test matches he scored 789 runs, average 25.45, and took three wickets at 42.00 apiece and 21 catches. He afterwards served the South Australian Cricket Association in several capacities.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack 1991
Batting & Fielding