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Herbie Collins

Allrounder

Bats Right Hand.
Bowls Left Arm Orthodox

Allrounder

Bats Right Hand.
Bowls Left Arm Orthodox

AGE
132
HEIGHT
173cmCM
BORN

Sydney

COUNTRY

STATE

NSW

NSW

Bio

Ashes Tests: 16

Captain: 8

Record: 4 wins, 2 losses and 2 draws

Off the Mark

Herbie Collins was one of the more popular Australian captains of the post-war era. Hardened by his time in the army, Collins emerged as the logical choice to lead the country following the removal of Warwick Armstrong.

In 16 Ashes encounters, Collins scored four centuries at an average of just over 40. His patient approach was a source of inspiration for his younger teammates, who took comfort in his unflappable technique.

His Stint

Collins’ first call of duty as captain was the 1921 tour to South Africa. The skipper led from the front, plundering 203 in the second Test as Australia stole a 1-0 series win.

The first Test of the 1924/25 Ashes was a memorable one for Collins. Playing at the SCG, Collins took it upon himself to shelter debutant Bill Ponsford from the ferocious Maurice Tate. The slow-going approach paid dividends, with the pair adding 190. Collins (114) would later describe it as one of his finest innings. The Test, which lasted seven days, was eventually won by Australia to the tune of 193 runs.

Australia won the series 3-1, largely thanks to Jack Ryder’s efforts in Adelaide. In a match decided by just 11 runs, Ryder was the lone hand for the hosts. After dazzling the South Australian faithful with 203 in the first innings, Ryder smashes 88 inside two hours to become the first player in history to record a double and a half-century in the same Test match.

The match was shrouded in controversy, however, as Collins was linked to match-fixing. A noted gambler, Collins was offered 100 quid to throw the match. Despite vowing to “throw the man downstairs” people still questioned Collins’ choice of bowlers on the final day as Australia wrapped up the tight win.

His final match in charge (the fifth Test at the Oval) saw corruption rumours resurface. With the series, and the match in the balance, Collins was accused of withholding his best bowler on a wet wicket. Instead of using the pace of Jack Gregory, Collins opted for the spin of Arthur Richardson. Australia’s 22 run lead quickly evaporated as Hobbs (100) and Sutcliffe (161) put the match out of reach. Collins argued that Gregory had gone wicketless for the first four Tests, but sceptics didn’t believe the man who loved a punt. It was the first Ashes loss since 1912, and it cost Collins his job.

His Legacy

Herbie Collins never got the respect he truly deserved. Long remembered for allegations of corruption, the former Australian skipper’s legacy has been forgotten. A terrific batsman, Collins was responsible for much of Australia’s success in the early 1920’s. His composure at the start of every innings set the tone for the Australian side, who fed off his valour at the top. From his 104 on debut in 1920/21, to his 203 in Johannesburg, Collins was a consummate professional.

Sadly, the talented leader is remembered for something he did not do. While he loved everything about gambling, he was too loyal to his country to ever do something so sinister. He had his reasons to bowl Richardson at the Oval, and like many plans since then, it didn’t come off. Tragically, few people realised how much of a toll the Great War had had on Collins, who fell into the world of uncontrollable gambling in his post-cricket life.

Played and Missed

Collins was captain of the Australian Combined Forces while over in England. Naturally, he enjoyed a winning record and was respected by his more senior teammates.

Collins was quite the opera lover, and was known to sing tenor at high-end parties.

After missing the previous two Tests with a broken thumb, Collins batted for nearly five hours to save a draw for Australia. He only made 40.

As Armstrong’s vice-captain, Collins was a national selector; his skipper wasn’t.

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