Date Inducted: 13 Dec 1988
Sport: Cricket
Hall Of Fame

Alan Davidson AM MBE - Cricket

An all-round cricketer whose greatest strength was as a left-arm fast-medium bowler, Alan Davidson played in 44 Test matches for Australia, scoring 1328 runs at an average of 24.59 and captured 186 wickets at an average of 20.53, including a memorable 7 for 93 against India. Strongly built and standing six feet tall, he was known for his hard hitting power, which yielded many long hit sixes. His left arm bowling was a mainstay of the Australian pace attack of the 1950s and early 1960s, and from the late 1950s widely regarded as one of the finest pace bowlers in the world, with a classical bowling action which imparted late swing. He was considered along Wasim Akram as the two greatest left arm fast bowlers in history, and bowled with great control, conceding less than two runs per over. He was known for his anticipation in close catching positions and his accurate and strong throwing arm from the outfield. His ability to take improbable close range catches saw him earn the nickname 'The Claw'.

Davidson grew up in Lisarow, New South Wales near the city of Gosford on the New South Wales central coast. He learnt to play cricket on a wicket which he dug out of a hill in his family's rural property. By the age of nine, he was already playing in the second division of the Gosford grade competition, and through high school was selected in the state's combined public schools' competition. He represented for Northern High Schools, playing against future captain Richie Benaud for three consecutive years, who captained City High Schools. As a youth, he bowled left arm unorthodox spin, but after his uncle's team was missing a fast bowler in a country match, Davidson temporally filled the role and remained a fast bowler permanently.

In 1948/49 he moved to Sydney and while playing for Northern Districts, gained selection for NSW. With the Australian team touring South Africa there were more opportunities for young players, as well as a second eleven to be selected later in the year for a tour of New Zealand. In his first Sheffield Shield match, he took a wicket with his second ball, and consistent performances saw him selected on the Second XI tour to New Zealand. In one match at Wairapa he took all ten wickets for 29 and then made an unbeaten 160. He rose steadily, except for a period of omission in the 1951/52 season. A talented rugby league player in his youth, he continued to train with the Western Districts Football Club in Sydney in the off season in order to maintain his fitness.

In 1953, Davidson was selected for the Australian side to tour England as a utility player in a team that included star bowlers such as Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller and Bill Johnston. He made his Test debut at Trent Bridge, Nottingham - the first of 44. His series was highlighted by 76 at Lord's which included powerful hitting.

He toured England again in 1956, but his first 12 Tests between 1953 and 1956 were relatively unsuccessful, producing 317 runs at 18.64 and 16 wickets at 34.06. His performances improved considerably during the 1957/58 tour to South Africa when he established himself as Australia's leading strike bowler. He was third in the tour batting averages with 54.20 and batted brilliantly. He took 6/34 in the first Test at Johannesburg and ended the Test series with 25 wickets at 17.0. Although he was unable to score heavily in the Tests, he scored four of his nine first-class centuries during the tour. From this tour onwards, in 32 Tests, he was to take 170 wickets at 19.26 and score 1011 runs at 27.32 in the remainder of his career.

In the home series against England in 1958/59, he claimed 24 wickets at 19, including 6/64 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. This included an opening spell when he took three top order wickets without conceding a run in the second Test.

His best bowling came in a 1959/60 Test in Kanpur, India. On a flat pitch in friendly batting conditions and in heat above 38ºc, he bowled for the entire day to take 7/93 from 57.3 overs. He ended the Test with 12/124, his best match figures in Test cricket, but was unable to prevent an Australian defeat. In six Tests in India, Davidson took 30 wickets at an average of 15.

A hard-hitting, spectacular batsman, Davidson scored 80 in the second innings of the historic tied test against the West Indies in 1960/61 in Brisbane. Davidson showed his all round skills as well as stamina in becoming the first player to take ten wickets and accumulate more than a hundred runs in a match. On the first day, he bowled more than 30 overs, and more than 20 on the second day to take 5/135 in the first innings. A haul of 6/87 in the second complemented scores of 44 and 80 with the bat. This was despite carrying a broken finger into the match. He took two further five wicket hauls of 5/80 and 5/84 in Sydney and Melbourne respectively. In the series he totaled 33 wickets against the Caribbean visitors at a cost of 18, when the next best average was 33 per wicket.

Later in 1961 in the fourth Test at Old Trafford, Davidson scored a hard hitting 77, including a tenth wicket stand of 98 with Graham McKenzie to help set up an Australian victory. After Australia had lost three wickets in quick succession to David Allen, Davidson responded by hitting him out of the attack. This included a 20 run over where he hit the bowler out of the stadium onto the railway lines outside. He was again Australia's leading bowler on tour.

Davidson's best first class bowling figures were 7/31 against Western Australia in 1961/62. In Sydney Grade Cricket, he scored 4302 runs at 37.08 and took 348 wickets at 13.69.

Following his retirement from international cricket at the end of the 1962/63 Australian season, he published his autobiography 'Fifteen Paces' in 1963, a reference to the length of his bowling run. He maintained an active involvement with the game, as a selector the Australian team, and in 1970 became a President of the NSW Cricket Association. He also served as the Chairman of the Rothmans National Sports Foundation.

Named Wisden's Cricketer of the Year in 1962, Davidson was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1964, and was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1987, both in recognition of his significant contribution to cricket. He is also an Australian Cricket Hall of Fame inductee, and a member of NSW Team of the Millennium, announced in 2000.

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When considering the stature of an athlete or for that matter any person, I set great store in certain qualities which I believe to be essential in addition to skill. They are that the person conducts his of her life with dignity, with integrity, courage, and perhaps most of all, with modesty. These virtues are totally compatible with pride, ambition, and competitiveness.