Queensland Cricket recognises the contribution of the many men and women to have served their country, including those who represented their state playing our game.
Cricketers, like all soldiers from various walks of life, fought for their countries during the Great Wars – and like all soldiers, some would not return. Records show that five Queensland first-class cricketers died during both World Wars; while countless others fought and served.
Charlie Adamson, an accomplished sportsman who played cricket for Durham and rugby for the British Isles, spent time in Brisbane where he represented Valley District Cricket Club before playing one first-class match for Queensland against New South Wales in 1899. He was a member of the Royal Scots Fusiliers in the British Army and died in Greece in 1918.
Alan Marshal (pictured above right playing for Surrey) played a total of 119 first-class games for Queensland and Surrey and was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1909. Marshal served in Gallipoli and died at age 32 of typhoid while on duty in Malta in 1915.
Glen Baker (pictured above sitting bottom row on the right) played 29 first-class games for Queensland from 1936-1942 with a highest score of 157. He was a Lieutenant in the Australian Army and died in New Guinea in 1943 at age 28.
Hubert Smith played three matches for Queensland between 1911-1913. He was a member of the 15th Australian Infantry Battalion and died of illness in Malta in 1915 at age 25.
George Poeppel played one first-class match for Queensland in 1915. He was a Private in Australia’s 15th Australian Infantry Battalion and died at age 23 in France in 1917.
The above names portray a tragic story of men taken in their prime. While their careers as cricketers will always be considered secondary to the loss of life suffered by so many, their story depicts a generation that had their opportunities of representing state and country destroyed by the savages of war.
During the post World War II years, cricket helped bring a sense of normality back to countries that had seen so many fine men taken during conflict. In his book Bradman’s War - How the 1948 Invincibles Turned the Cricket Pitch Into A Battlefield, Malcolm Knox portrays cricket’s power as a sport to unite and inspire countries that had been crushed by war.
After World War II, ‘Victory Tests’ were played between the Australian and England Services Teams and featured names from both countries that were prominent before the War’s outbreak in 1939.
English Test stars Len Hutton and Wally Hammond joined the likes of Australians Lindsay Hasset and Keith Miller on the cricket field during the Victory Tests having spent time in active service during the war.
The camaraderie between players from both sides, many of who had been fighting weeks earlier, put cricket into perspective for those who had witnessed and experienced first hand the terrors of service.
On the battlefield, cricketers were like any man who was asked to fight for their country. Three members of Queensland Cricket’s Team of the 20th Century that were part of Sir Donald Bradman’s 1948 Invincibles – the team first to go through an Ashes tour without losing a game – all served their country during World War II.
Bill Brown, considered one of the finest opening batsmen to don the Baggy Green, served in New Guinea and the Philippines as a Flight Lieutenant in the Royal Australian Air Force. Brown’s best years as a cricketer were prior to the outbreak of World War II where he played 16 of his 22 Tests and was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1939. He finished with a Test average of 46.82 and a highest score of 206 not out and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1999.
Leg-spinning all-rounder Colin McCool was a member of the No. 33 Squadron of the Royal Australian Air Force and served as a Pilot Officer in New Guinea. His 251 game first-class career spanned from 1940–1960 and included stints with New South Wales, Queensland and Somerset.
Ray Lindwall, remembered as one of Australia’s finest ever-fast bowlers, served the Australian Army in New Guinea after enlisting in 1943. A first-grade rugby league player in Sydney, Lindwall played 34 of his 228 first-class games for Queensland, taking 115 wickets including a best bowling performance of 7-92. He was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1949 and awarded an MBE in 1965.
Cricket’s impact on service is not limited to the World Wars. Tony Dell was named Australia’s 255th Test cricketer in 1971 when he shared the new ball with Dennis Lillee against England. Just a few years prior he served Australia in the Vietnam War as a National Serviceman. He is the only Test cricketer to serve in the conflict.
The above names portray generations of courage and sacrifice, and on April 25, cricket will pause to remember the service given by many that have allowed us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.