Arthur Theodore Wallace Grout
March 30, 1927, Mackay, Queensland
November 09, 1968, Wickham Terrace, Brisbane, Queensland, (aged 41y 224d)
Right hand Bat
Wally Grout entitled his autobiography My Country's Keeper, expressing his pride in the office he assumed at the age of 30 and held for almost a decade. Mobile, sometimes acrobatic, and a perceptive judge of batsmen's weaknesses, his presence was for many years talismanic: Australia did not lose a series during his tenure. Grout claimed a record six catches in an innings on Test debut, and in February 1960 scooped a first-class record eight in an innings for Queensland against Western Australia. He was also a batsman good enough to score a Test half-century as an emergency opener batsman, and a humorist with a touch of Australian comedian Lennie Lower. Asked by an Englishman if he'd attended a public school, he replied: "Eton. And drinkin'." He ignored doctor's warnings about his weak heart and kept on playing until he was 39 - and died from a heart attack less than three years later.
Arthur Theodore Wallace "Wally" Grout, who died in hospital in Brisbane on November 9, aged 41, kept wicket for Australia in 51 Test matches between 1957 and 1965. He entered hospital only two days before his death. A Brisbane doctor was afterwards reported as saying that Grout knew that he might collapse at any time during the last four years of his Test career and that he took part in the Australian tour of the West Indies only a few months after a heart attack in 1964. Yet Wally's unfailingly cheerful demeanour gave no inkling that there might be anything amiss with him.
Few chances escaped the agile Grout behind the stumps. In Test cricket he dismissed 187 batsmen, 163 of them caught and 24 stumped. Of these, 23 fell to him in the series with the West Indies in Australia in 1960-61; 21 in England in 1961 and 20 against England in Australia in 1958-59. Only T. G. Evans, who played in 40 more Test matches for England, possesses a better record. On two occasions Grout claimed eight victims in a Test match and his six catches in one innings against South Africa at Johannesburg in 1957-58 set up a world's record which has since been equalled by J. D. Lindsay for South Africa and J. T. Murray for England. On five other occasions Grout disposed of five batsmen in an innings. Outside Test cricket, his greatest achievement was when he exceeded all previous wicket-keeping feats in first-class cricket; for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield match at Brisbane in 1960, he sent back eight Western Australia batsmen, all caught, in one innings. That world's record still stands.
In addition to his wicket-keeping ability, Grout was also a distinctly useful late-order batsman, as he proved in that Test at Johannesburg in which he brought off his six catches. He and R. Benaud, in adding 89, set up a new record for the Australian eighth wicket against South Africa.
Tributes to Grout included:
S. C. Griffith (M.C.C. Secretary): Among cricketers, he was regarded as one of the most kindly and generous of men. Speaking as a former wicket-keeper myself, I regarded him as among the most consistent performers behind the wicket I have ever played with or seen.
Sir Donald Bradman: He was one of the finest wicket-keepers of all time.
R. B. Simpson: He was the greatest wicket-keeper I ever saw.
R. Benaud: He was able to read a match as well as any captain and was always of tremendous value to me in captaining the Australian side.
W. W. Hall ( West Indies fast bowler who played for Queensland in two Sheffield Shield series): He was the finest wicket-keeper I either played with or against in my ten years of big cricket.
B. N. Jarman (successor to Grout as Australian wicket-keeper): I could not speak too highly of Wally as a wicket-keeper. He was one of the game's greatest characters. I never begrudged playing second fiddle to him.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Batting & Fielding