Ashes Tests: 31
Off the Mark
Hugh Trumble, Australia’s greatest off-spinner for many a decade, represented Australia in 31 Ashes Tests across 14 years. His 141 wickets against England remained a record for over 75 years, until the great Dennis Lillee surpassed him.
At 1.93 metres tall, Trumble was an unconventional spinner who relied heavily on bounce and variations in pace. He fared very well on the wet pitches in England, where he was known to get unplayable grip on the tacky surfaces. While he only captained the side twice, many believe Trumble would have made an excellent long-term leader had he not been surrounded by a host of other formidable candidates.
Trumble is one of only three bowlers to have taken two Test match hat-tricks; both of which were taken at the MCG.
In 1901/02, after having taken a hat-trick in Melbourne and scoring 62* in Adelaide, Trumble was handed the captaincy after Joe Darling decided to step away from the game for a much needed break. In his first match in charge, Trumble used his spearhead Jack Saunders sparingly in the first innings, as England reached a handy 317. With Australia only trailing by a handful, Trumble unleashed Saunders for a brutal spell that skittled the tourists for 99. Australia cantered to a seven wicket win to hand Trumble a winning start.
A sodden MCG greeted both teams in the fifth Test, and Australia found the going tough, limping its way to 144. England made 189 in reply, with Trumble snaring 5/62. A respectable 255 set England 211 to win, but 6/98 from Monty Noble ensured another series win for the home side.
In the early 20th Century (and even now) captaincy is generally left to the premier batsman of the side. However, Trumble bucked the trend, handing power to a bowler for the first time since George Giffen. Bowlers are better known for taking orders rather than handing them out, but Trumble displayed qualities akin to some of the greats. He was a fair man who had an excellent understanding of the game. Given he was the elder statesman in a youthful squad, it was only natural that he would be made captain. And although leadership wasn’t something he was used to, he did his job with aplomb to finish with an unblemished record.
As a player, Trumble would go down as one of the best spinners of his time. The English found him virtually unplayable, with his height providing a point of difference. Testament to the man, Trumble finished his Test playing career with a hat-trick from his final three deliveries. No other player has gone out so emphatically.
Played and Missed
When he retired, Trumble was the leading wicket taker in Test cricket with 141 scalps to his name.
Trumble is one of only three players to take two hat-tricks in Tests (Damien Fleming will feel aggrieved not to be the fourth).
From 1899 until he retired, Trumble was rated in the top two bowlers in the world.
In 1902, Trumble became the first player to score a half-century and claim ten wickets in a match when he scored 64* and finished with 12 wickets at Old Trafford.
After being appointed secretary of the Melbourne Cricket Club, Trumble oversaw the redevelopment of the MCG, turning into a ground capable of holding in excess of 70,000 spectators.