Australian spinner Lindsay Kline dies at 81

Lindsay Kline, the left-arm wrist-spinner who faced the final ball of the famous tied Test between Australia and West Indies in 1960, has died at the age of 81

Brydon Coverdale
Brydon Coverdale
Lindsay Kline with Wes Hall at the 40th-anniversary reunion of the tied Test in 2000  •  Getty Images

Lindsay Kline with Wes Hall at the 40th-anniversary reunion of the tied Test in 2000  •  Getty Images

There are few bowlers who can claim to have taken a Test hat-trick; Lindsay Kline was one of only nine Australians to have done it. There are few No. 11 batsmen who can boast of surviving nearly two hours to salvage a thrilling draw; Kline did that against West Indies in Adelaide in 1961. But it is a measure of the excitement that Kline squeezed into a 13-Test career that neither of those was his most memorable moment.
Kline, who has died at the age of 81, will be best remembered as the man who faced the final ball of what is perhaps the most famous Test match of them all: the tie between Australia and West Indies at the Gabba in 1960. Arguably the most iconic photograph in Test history shows Kline running to the bowler's end, looking over his shoulder to see his partner Ian Meckiff being run out by a direct hit from Joe Solomon.
A left-arm wrist-spinner who claimed 34 Test wickets at 22.82, Kline was unlucky to have been pushing for a place when Richie Benaud was the country's dominant spinner, and captain. But despite his fine bowling record it is for his involvement in the tied Test that Kline will be best remembered. The last eight-ball over of the fifth day had started with Australia needing six to win and West Indies requiring three wickets.
Benaud and Wally Grout were both dismissed, and Kline found himself walking to the crease to join the No.10, Meckiff, with two balls remaining and the scores level. Kline was the last man, and had the job not only of surviving two deliveries against Wes Hall, but of finding a way to squeeze out one more run for an Australian victory.
Recalling the Test in 2010, Kline told ESPNcricinfo: "The previous over, I said to Colin McDonald 'I won't have to go in, will I?' He said 'No, I don't think so'. Then we lost those wickets and I'm trying to pad up, and I couldn't find my gloves, I'm looking in my bag. I was sitting on them. It got to me a bit, I got pretty nervous, that's for sure.
"I walked out and walked past Frank Worrell and he said to me 'I wouldn't be in your shoes for all the tea in China'. Then he also said 'you look a little pale'. I felt it."
Kline told Meckiff that the plan was to run on the penultimate delivery, no matter what happened; he put bat on ball and took off, but Meckiff hesitated, and Solomon's throw found him short. Kline knew he had just been part of Test cricket's first tie, but in the rooms immediately afterwards Meckiff sat with his head in his hands thinking Australia had lost.
"I'm running for a win and he's running for a tie," Kline said. "But I can understand it, we didn't have electronic scoreboards or anything, flashing up 'one run to win' or anything like that. I thought he knew, and I thought I knew."
Kline did not play the next two Tests of the series and when he was recalled for the fourth Test in Adelaide, he was involved in a finish almost as thrilling as that at the Gabba. Kline and Ken "Slasher" Mackay compiled a 109-minute partnership for the final wicket that prevented a West Indies victory that would have given them a 2-1 lead in the series.
"That was a million to one chance - I think I should put it up to a billion in one chance," Kline said in 2010. "Before tea, Johnny Martin and Norm O'Neill said 'come on, we'll give you some practice in the nets'. I got bowled out about 10 times. There was a lady standing behind the net and she said 'it's a waste of time sending you in, isn't it?' I couldn't disagree with her.
"Then after tea we lost a couple of quick wickets and I had to pad up. When I started to pad up a couple of the guys started packing their bags, hoping to get an early flight to New South Wales or Queensland. You had to walk down through the stands on to the oval and one of the members shouted out 'well, it's all up to you now', and everyone in the stands started to laugh. They weren't laughing 109 minutes later."
It was Kline's last act in Test cricket, and not a bad one for a bloke with a first-class batting average of 8.60. But Kline was in the side for his bowling, and he will forever go down in history as the fourth Australian to take a Test hat-trick, a feat he completed in just his second Test match, against South Africa in Cape Town in 1957-58. In three balls, Kline took the last three wickets of Australia's win.
The first of his hat-trick was Eddie Fuller, caught close in by Benaud. The second was Hugh Tayfield, plumb lbw to a legbreak. "I told people it was a flipper, but it wasn't," Kline said in 2011. Then the No. 11, Neil Adcock, came to the crease. Kline intended to bowl his legbreak but changed his mind during his approach; his wrong'un clipped Adcock's edge and Bob Simpson at slip took a stunner.
Kline liked to jokingly tell people that he should be considered alongside Shane Warne, who also claimed a Test hat-trick in which the three batsmen were all dismissed for ducks. "It was the only hat-trick I ever got at any level," Kline said. "Shane Warne told me he'd only got one as well. I tell people my career was pretty similar to his. The only difference is, he got 700-odd wickets and I got 34."
In later years, Kline ran a successful company manufacturing and supplying fire equipment in Melbourne. He retained a strong interest in cricket, and each year Kline and Meckiff would join former Test wicketkeeper Barry Jarman for a holiday on his houseboat in South Australia before attending the Adelaide Test.
But it was the 1960-61 series against West Indies that Kline remembered most fondly. The camaraderie between the opponents was remarkable: he recalled being one of three or four Australians joining the West Indians in Garry Sobers' room the night before the first Test, playing calypso records. After the series, Kline swapped blazers and caps with Rohan Kanhai.
"I think the most wonderful thing was the relationship between the two sides," Kline said. "It was just magic. It was almost like mates playing mates."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale