Leslie Ernest Favell
October 06, 1929, Arncliffe, New South Wales
June 14, 1987, Magill, Adelaide, South Australia, (aged 57y 251d)
Right hand bat
Right arm medium
The early death of Les Favell robs cricket of a highly-esteemed figure, a breezy opening batsman who became a fine coach, an analytical commentator and columnist, partron of the Australian Cricket Society, and a life member of the SACA.
Born in Arncliffe, Sydney on Oct 6, 1929, Leslie Ernest Favell, having grown up with the famous St George club when NSW were as powerful as many a Test team, moved to Adelaide as a young man and began a long distinguished career with South Australia in 1951-52. By his retirement after the 1969-70 season he had played 258 innings for his adopted State, making an unrivalled 9656 runs, mostly at an urgent rate, averaging 38.17, with 23 centuries. In all first class cricket his tally was 12,379 (36.62) with 27 centuries, one of them for Australia, an exercise in self-denial in the Madras Test of Jan 1960, during a tour which cost him two stone in weight. That, his finest innings, was played with a new upright stance, on a pitch sprinkled with sawdust. He scampered his 100th run in the final over of the opening day.
He played in 19 Tests between 1954-55 and 1960-61, his return being a moderate 727 runs at 27.04. Yet his international career was eventful and rewarding in that he began with 23 against England in an Australian innings of 601 for 8 dec at Brisbane which led to an innings victory, hit the runs which won back the Ashes at Adelaide four years later, had a fine double of 72 and 53 in Barbados in 1955 (the Atkinson/ Depeiza Test) having hit his first two balls of the tour - in Trinidad- for six and four, and took part in the tied Test and Brisbane in 1960, when he was run out after hitting Valentine's previous two balls for six. He also toured South Africa, without playing in a Test, and twice toured New Zealand, leading the side in 1966-67. The highest score of his career came in South Africa, an even-time 190 against Griqualand West at Kimberley, when he and Bob Simpson put on 293.
But Favell's true worth to Australian cricket was at domestic level. The attacking batsman who hooked and cut and perkily called the tune to opponents in the spirit of MacArtney matured into an enthusiastic and inspiring captain who led South Australia a record 95 times ( Vic Richardson is next with 87), twice steering them to the Sheffield Shield title. As a 22-year old he had burst onto the scene with 86 and 164 on debut, against NSW at Adelaide, when he also acquired many bruises, little Rocky Marciano. Twice he was to make twin centuries in a match, and against Dexter's 1962-63 MCC team he smote 120. A State baseballer, he was also a brilliant fielder. Among the memorable partnerships was one of 281 with John Causby against NSW in 1967-68, after which the veteran Favell dropped himself down the batting order.
Shortly afterwards, recognition came in the form of an MBE, and in 1970 he wrote By Hook or By Cut, an autobiography notable for its honesty and patent sense of happiness and gratitude. A sincere family man, he had the pleasure of seeing his son, Alan (named after Davidson), win a South Australia cap. Early this year Les Favell discovered he had cancer of the kidney. A testimonial match was arranged in his honour at Adelaide Oval, a heart-rending event graced by Sir Donald Bradman and many other stars. Sitting beside Keith Miller, Favell said, after watching Neil Harvey (now 58) skip down the pitch to launch an exquisite cover-drive: `Now I can retire happy.' He died on June 14, aged 57.
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