DOOLAND, BRUCE, who died in Adelaide, his birthplace, on September 8, 1980, aged 56, was one of the last great leg-spinners in first-class cricket
DOOLAND, BRUCE, who died in Adelaide, his birthplace, on September 8, 1980, aged 56, was one of the last great leg-spinners in first-class cricket. As early as 1940-41, when only seventeen, he had been asked to play for South Australia, but his employers refused leave. War service with the Australian commandos had intervened before he made his first appearance for them in 1945-46 and, against Victoria, performed the first hat-trick in post-war Australian cricket.
In 1946 he was a member of W. A. Brown's team to New Zealand and in 1946-47 was picked for the third Test against England at Melbourne. Taking four for 89 and one for 84 and helping McCool to put on 83 useful runs for the ninth wicket, he did not do badly, especially as his victims were Washbrook (twice), Hammond and Ikin; he was retained for the fourth Test, in which he took three for 133 (Washbrook, Edrich and Ikin) and made 29. For the last Test he was replaced by Tribe.
His only other Test was against India at Melbourne in 1948. For the 1948 tour of England, McCool and Ring were preferred to him: his later records suggest that in time he became a better bowler than either, but leg-spinners tend to mature slowly learning from experience, and both were considerably older. The immediate consequence was that he came to England to play in the Lancashire League. In 1950-51 he went with the Commonwealth side to India and made two hundreds in the unofficial Tests. In 1953 he was registered to play for Nottinghamshire.
He continued to play for them for five seasons during which he scored 4,782 runs with an average of 24.52 and took 770 wickets at 18.86. Twice he did the double and once he missed it by only 30 runs. He played twice for the Players at Lord's. His batting figures show remarkable consistency as they include only one hundred - 115 not out v Sussex at Worthing in 1957 - a match in which he also took ten for 102. Perhaps his most remarkable bowling performance statistically was sixteen for 83 v Essex at Trent Bridge in 1954. Against Somerset in 1953 he took ten for 49 in the match at Weston-super-Mare and later in the month ten for 48 in the return at Trent Bridge. Standing over six feet he was taller than most leg-spinners and had a long strong arm which had helped him to become one of the best baseball pitchers in his state.
Delivering the ball usually with his front foot behind the bowling crease, he was a trifle quicker than many of his predecessors, but like them relied mainly on the leg-break and the top-spinner, keeping the googly in reserve. Probably the chief difference between his bowling in 1948 and in 1953 was that he had become more skilled at varying his pace and his flight. As a batsman, he could cut and drive well and he was also a good fieldsman near the wicket. After 1957 he returned to Australia, as he wished his son to be brought up as an Australian.