Ashes Tests: 52
Record: 1 loss, 2 draws
Off the Mark
Syd Gregory would have to be one of the most interesting characters in early Australian cricket. Despite holding the record at the time for most matches played, many people believed Gregory never really deserved his spot in the side. Sceptics will tell you that Syd was first selected because of his uncle (Dave Gregory). Syd never enjoyed a consistent career, but always managed to find a big hundred when required. In 52 matches against England, Gregory managed 2,193 runs at an average of around 24.
Despite not being a regular member of the squad at the time, Gregory was handed the captaincy in 1912. He would lead the side on six occasions against South Africa and England, with three of the Tests being washed out.
In his final match in charge, Gregory suffered his lone defeat as England romped to a 244 run win. Sir Jack Hobbs and Frank Woolley both passed 50 as England reached 245 at the Oval. Five wickets apiece to Woolley and Syd Barnes then reduced Australia to just 111, with Charles Kelleway and Warren Bardsley the only batsmen to reach double figures. Gerry Hazlitt then bowled Australia back into contention with a dazzling spell of 7/25 from 21.4 overs, leaving 310 for victory. Another five wickets for Woolley saw Australia fall for just 65, with only two players passing five.
Gregory was by no means the man for the job. His selection was circumstantial; not performance based, and a number of the players resented him for it. The squad was the most rebellious of all time, with alcohol reducing the 1912 tour to farcical proportions. The Board even wanted the team to come home early, but nothing was done about it. Gregory was blamed for being too nice. Knowing that his career was coming to a close, it is possible that Gregory simply didn’t care enough to stop his younger teammates.
Gregory’s career, albeit extensive, never really got going. Long stretches of poor form were interspersed with big scores. His four Test tons included 201 against England in 1894/95, where the visitors somehow won despite being forced to follow-on. Many consider Gregory one of the finest cover-point fielders of all time, with the five-foot pocket-rocket known for his ability to throw down the stumps.
Played and Missed
Following in his uncle’s footsteps, Syd Gregory became the first second generation cricketer for Australia.
Gregory is one of just three players in Test match history to have batted everywhere from one to eleven.
Gregory is the most capped non-Englishman at Lord’s.
In all, Gregory toured England a staggering eight times.
Gregory’s record of 58 Tests would not be broken until 1956, when Ray Lindwall achieved the feat.