Ashes Tests: 39
Record: 8 wins, 5 losses, 2 draws
Off the Mark
Monty Noble is widely regarded as one of Australia’s greatest all-rounders. So much so, the former leader had a stand named in his honour at the SCG. Noble enjoyed a prodigious Ashes career, the majority of his 1,997 runs coming against England.
In just his second match, noble claimed figures of 6/49 to set up an innings victory at the MCG. In 1899, he would save Australia from defeat by batting for 510 minutes on a pitch that no one else could master. Time and time again, Noble was the man to step up when Australia needed a hero.
Noble’s first game in charge was at the SCG in 1903, and he demonstrated why the selectors had given him the job. The new skipper struck his one and only Test century when his more fancied teammates struggled. Noble’s 133 was overshadowed by England’s 577. Although Victor Trumper replied with a masterful 185 not out, the visitors would win the match by five wickets.
After losing his first series 3-2, Noble silenced his critics by leading Australia to a crushing 4-1 romp in 1909. The side then travelled to England, where Australia would once again come out on top. At Leeds, Noble experimented with the untested McCartney. The show of faith worked, with the paceman taking 11 scalps for the match. With Noble drying up the other end, the Australian quicks were able to unleash on the back-pedalling English. The series triumph was certainly helped by Noble calling correctly on all five occasions.
As captain, Noble certainly lived up to his name. Both on and off the field, the New South Welshman was a gentleman to the fullest. He was known to appeal only when he thought the batsman was definitely out, and he encouraged his teammates to follow suit. Unlike the captains of yesteryear, Noble was willing to chop and change his bowlers on a regular basis. Rather than rely on one player to bowl non-stop, Noble employed the new strategy of keeping his attack fresh. This was a big part of Noble’s legacy, who was known to have a plan for every opponent.
As a player, Noble was nothing short of prolific. Aside from being ever-reliable, Noble was dominant. Against England, he managed 1,905 runs and picked up 115 wickets. He possessed a near flawless technique with the bat, as highlighted by his 60 and 89* in Manchester when he defied the English for nearly nine hours. Few will forget his exploits with the ball at the MCG in 1901/02. Noble ravaged the English on the first morning, taking 7/17, before bowling Australia to victory with an equally impressive 6/60 in the second innings.
Noble appeared to have taken the best characteristics from his predecessors, and added his own personality to the role. It came as no surprise, then, that he would leave the game due to disagreements with the board.
Played and Missed
After being bowled for 17 in his first match, Noble believed he would never play for Australia again.
Noble added 428 for the sixth wicket with Warwick Armstrong against Sussex in 1902.
Noble only required two fingers to bowl his patented out-swingers. The grip, more commonly practiced by baseballers, was only possible due to his dexterity.
To demonstrate his nobility, Noble asked his teammates to vote for who they wanted to lead the side, even after the board had already announced his as captain.
Incredibly, Noble’s only Test century came in his first games as captain. Despite scoring 37 first-class tons, Noble would never reach triple figures again.