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Article by Peter Argent 14/05/03
Moving to the city of Sydney as a thirty year old, Ernie Toshack had a late start to his first-grade career by Australian standards due to sickness and the depression during th early part of last century. Previous to this, he was a proficient country based rugby league and cricket player and also a noted boxer. A meteoric rise saw him play first-grade cricket after only two matches in 1944/45.
A member of the “Invincibles” in 1948, a team captained by Don Bradman, he was a left arm medium pacer who predominately bowled off- cutters. He played in Australia’s first Test against New Zealand after the Second World War, helping Bill O’Reilly destroy the home side for 42 and 54. O’Reilly in his last Test took eight wickets, while Toshack finished his first Test with the figures of 4 for 12 and 2 for 6.
Quite tall and thickly set, Toshack had a fondness for the Brisbane Cricket Ground, collecting his best two match hauls there. In 1946/47, he took 9/99 (3/17 and 6/82) against England. The following summer against the Indian’s who were touring for the first time, Toshack collected 11/31 (5/2 and 6/29) on a rain effected pitch. He had two other five wicket innings hauls in his 12 tests, including a 5/40 in the Lords Test against the all conquering Australian’s during their 1948 tour.
Favoured by Bradman because of his work ethic and accuracy, he was an important part of his captain’s plans during Australia’s first tour back to England after the second world war, as a first change bowler with Bill Johnston, after Lindwall and Miller. In a test career that lasted less than four full years, Toshack took 47 wickets at the impressive average 21.04. At first-grade level, he acquired 195 scalps at 20.37 in 48 matches.
Always regarded as a tail-end batsman, his highest first-grade score was 20 not out (Lords 1948) and he was involved in a 55 run last wicket partnership with Ray Lindwall at Leeds in 1948. He was however, dismissed only once during this series and finished with a batsman like average of 52.00. A knee injury would finish his short, but productive bowling career.
Ernie Toshack died in his sleep on 11th May 2003, aged 88.