Ronald Graham Archer
October 25, 1933, Highgate Hill, Brisbane, Queensland
May 27, 2007, Brisbane, Queensland, (aged 73y 214d)
Right hand bat
Right arm fast
Deprived of the bull's-eye
But for a knee injury that ended his career at 23, allrounder Ron Archer would almost certainly have captained Australia. He had been recommended to succeed Ian Johnson for the 1957-58 South African tour, only to wrench his knee after catching a spike in some matting in a Karachi Test on the way home from the 1956 Ashes tour.
He went on to play a season purely as a batsman with Queensland, including a game against Peter May's touring Englishmen in 1958-59, before standing aside to allow younger players an opportunity. "I'd done a cruciate ligament," he revealed years later, "and unfortunately for me they didn't know about them in those days. I was put in plaster from my ankle up four months later but it was never any good and I was never able to play [Tests] again."
A genuine allrounder with flair and occasional flamboyance, he swung the ball both ways and enjoyed a purple patch or two. His signature morning of Test cricket came at Headingley on his second Ashes tour, in 1956, when he sent back the first three, Colin Cowdrey, Alan Oakman and Peter Richardson, for three runs on his way to 3 for 68 from 50 overs.
"It was one of those days," Archer said. "Rarely did I get the new ball when Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller were in the team. Keith played in that game but he had a minor injury and the skipper [Ian Johnson] was still trying to get him to bowl. Finally Miller refused and I was given the ball. I had 3 for 3 from my first nine overs but I didn't get any more. There was one lbw shout against Cyril Washbrook which was pretty close but it was given not out."
A man of fibre and great energy, Archer's career was restricted to 19 Tests, five at home and 14 abroad. He rated the three best players of his time as Neil Harvey, May and Everton Weekes. He also opposed Len Hutton but says he and other of the leading Englishmen tended to play cautiously and "you could dominate them".
Johnson was so impressed by Archer's maturity and blossoming skills that he recommended he captain Australia to South Africa, a job which eventually fell to the 22-year-old Ian Craig, Australia's youngest-ever captain. Archer did captain Queensland but was unable to bowl and soon stopped altogether, a promising career nipped in the bud. He remains one of Queensland cricket's favourite sons - a member of the state's Team of the Century - and was a long-serving and visionary administrator whose passion for the game never wavered.
His brother Ken, also a Test player, said Ron gave much on and off the field but never sought accolades. "I was privileged and very proud to be his brother," Ken says. "His life was one of many significant achievements but his greatest was to be an outstanding human being."
Archer was a Cricket Australia
code of behaviour commissioner and
an ICC match referee but was also
prominent outside the game, chiefly
as a television executive and charity
coordinator. In 1995 he was honoured
with the Order of Australia for his
service to cricket, business and the
community. He is survived by his wife
of more than 50 years Margaret, two
daughters, Jo-Ellen and Jacky, and
The Wisden Cricketer August 2007
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