Michael Joseph Hartigan
December 12, 1879, Chatswood, Sydney, New South Wales
June 07, 1958, Brisbane, Queensland, (aged 78y 177d)
Right hand bat
Right arm bowler
January 1908. Adelaide shimmering in the heat, the temperature at the wicket around 150°F. Australia, trailing England on the first innings by 78 runs, were 179 for 6, a mere 101 runs ahead, when 28-year-old Roger Hartigan made his way to the crease. A few minutes later O'Connor was out, and in came Clem Hill, so sick with 'flu that there had been doubts that he would bat even this low in the order. Just over four hours' play later, on the following morning, Hartigan was caught at point by the bespectacled English substitute Dick Young for 116, and the stand was worth 243 - at that time the highest for any wicket in Test cricket, and to this day the highest for the eighth wicket in any Test match apart from the 246 put on by Les Ames and Gubby Allen for England against New Zealand in 1931.
That, it might have been assumed, was the start of a glittering Test career. Yet Hartigan was destined to play in only one further Test - the fifth at Sydney, where J. N. Crawford trapped him for 1 and 5 on a rain-affected pitch. Hartigan had missed the fourth Test because of business commitments'.
His first innings in the Adelaide Test had produced 48 attractive runs in an hour and a quarter before Fielder bowled him off his glove as he went for a big hit. Six days later, his glorious debut century in the book and Australia triumphant by 245 runs after fighting back from the brink of disaster, Roger Hartigan, like the already-established Clem Hill, was a national hero. A shilling collection at the ground had raised £24 from which Hartigan was bought a gold chain and pendant; and later the Mayor of Brisbane presented him with a gold watch.
A year later he was embarking for the 1909 tour of England, under M. A. Noble's captaincy. That tour, which saw Australia retain the Ashes by two Test victories to one, was a passage of triumph for the two left-handers, Bardsley and Ransford, while Armstrong, Noble and Trumper all made a thousand runs. But Hartigan averaged only 18.84 and failed to get into the Test side. His sole century was against Western Union at Glasgow's Hamilton Crescent ground, and Cricket wrote of him in September that he 'has very attractive methods but always appeared anxious to collar the bowling as soon as he went in ... over and over again he was dismissed whilst attempting a liberty before he was thoroughly set.' He had his successes: at Cardiff, where he hit 88 against South Wales in 95 minutes, and at Blackpool, where he made another 88 against an England XI after the home team had piled up 567 (J. W. H. T. Douglas and A. E. Knight 284 for the first wicket). Hartigan and the Australian wicketkeeper Sammy Carter belted 130 for the first wicket in 55 minutes in the first innings and 49 in half an hour in the follow-on. The huge aggregate of 1283 runs over the three days included 150 from Victor Trumper's bat in 115 minutes - his last century on English soil.
There was a rare occurrence early in the tour when, at The Oval, Surrey fast bowler Tom Rushby beat Hartigan, the ball hitting the stumps hard and veering off almost at right angles for four byes - but the bail was disturbed only to the extent that it rested against the middle stump, the other end still in the groove. Hartigan's top-score 44 was not enough to save the Australians, who lost by five runs. If, overall, his batting was a disappointment, Cricket recorded that Hartigan was 'most brilliant' as a slips fielder, 'having, perhaps, no superior in the world'.
Hartigan, the finest Queensland batsman up to the Great War and for some years afterwards, and a man who did much for cricket in Queensland, was born in Sydney, 600 miles south. Having represented New South Wales at baseball, he appeared only once in the State's cricket side before being transferred to Queensland. There the opportunities were greater, and he delighted in scoring 98 against his old teamin his first match for his new one. He went on to play nineteen times for Queensland; captaining the side in ten of the matches
Two remarkable performances are tucked away in records of matches: a double-century for Wooloongabba against Nundah in 1905-06, when he and W. J. Lewis made 339 unfinished for the first wicket; and 200 in an innings of 821 Queensland XI against a Northern District of NSW XI two years later. Hartigan tried to conduct a number of 'missionary' to outlying areas, spreading the gospel to regions where top cricketers had hit been mere names in newspapers.
His own name lives on as a batsman and he achieved a few hours of glory from limited opportunity. In later years, hair greying, he gave great service to Queensland cricket as a delegate to the Australian Board of Control for several decades, winning, after strenuous efforts, admission for the State to the Sheffield Shield and acceptance of Brisbane as a Test match venue. But his everlasting fame is assured by the record books, a preserve of that remarkable century in his first Test. The punishment inflicted upon the Englishmen by the new man, his along with his experienced partner Hill, and the toll taken by the heat may be gauged from J. N. Crawford's account:
"At the close we were all walking like old men of eighty. My own face was like a bit of raw meat, my lips were cracked, my nose was peeled, a feet blistered, so that it was painful to totter about.!
As for Hartigan, Philip Trevor, the English manager, who produced a book on the tour, wrote that he was 'singlely unspoiled by great success and sudden fame'.
David Frith, Wisden Cricket Monthly
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