Bats Right Hand.
Bowls Right Arm Medium
Bats Right Hand.
Bowls Right Arm Medium
Ashes Tests: 24
Record: 4 wins, 2 losses, 4 draws
Off the Mark
Lindsay Hassett remains one of the most loved captains in Australian history. His light-hearted attitude made him a favourite amongst his teammates, while even opposition players admired him.
Hassett played 24 matches against England, scoring 1,572 runs along the way. His average of 38.34 was well short of his career average of 46, but this was grossly exaggerated by his form against India.
The eight year hiatus caused by World War II made Hassett hungrier than he had been before, with his four Ashes centuries coming post 1945.
Hassett’s first Ashes Test as captain was one for the ages. After winning the toss, Hassett elected to bat on a pitch that looked ripe for the picking. Sir Alec Bedser had other ideas, snaring four wickets as Australia slumped to be all out for 228. Neil Harvey was the only player to make an impact, reaching 74. Storms then wiped out two days of play, spicing up the previously sedate wicket. The English raced to 1/49, before losing 6/19 thanks largely to Bill Johnston. Freddie Brown surprisingly declared 160 in arrears, exposing Australia to the now unplayable wicket. The hosts were 3/0 inside three overs, and after falling to 7/32, Hassett inexplicably called an end to the innings. A reversal of the batting order saw Australia pick up six quick wickets, and although Sir Leonard Hutton plundered 62, Australia won by 70 runs.
The 1953 tour ended controversially, but not before Hassett struck a masterful 104 in his first outing as an opener. Australia looked odds on to win the fourth Test at Headingley. Hassett became the first Australian captain since Noble in 1909 to send England in to bat away from home. Five wickets to Ray Lindwall handed Australia a vital 99 run first innings lead. Four wickets to Keith Miller left Australia needing 175 in just under two hours. The visitors looked set for victory when Morris (38), Harvey (34) and Hole (33) took the score to 117. However, Trevor Bailey intervened, taking more than 11 minutes to bowl an over. The match was drawn, and England suddenly had the momentum.
Hassett’s final Test match was the deciding game at the Oval. He led from the front, making 53, and was well supported by Lindwall of all people. The quick then took four wickets, but not before England reached 306. Controversial off-spinner (or off-chucker as the Australians would say) took five wickets on a dead track to spin his side to victory. England won by eight wickets, and captured the Ashes for the first time since 1932.
Hassett made professional cricket look like social cricket; but in a good way. His unflappable demeanour was one rarely seen from Australian captains. Players wanted to tour with him, while opponents wanted to play against him.
Had England not bent the rules in the last two Tests, Hassett would have gone down as an exceptionally successful captain. However, history will tell you that he was the first Australian captain in 21 years to lose the Urn. It was the only match they lost on tour, but it also happened to be the most telling.
Played and Missed
In 1938, Hassett brought a goat into the room he shared with Stan McCabe and Bill O’Reilly. The practical joke surprisingly sat well with everyone involved.
Hassett was the shortest Australian captain, standing at just over five foot tall.
Robert Menzies believed Hassett would have made an excellent politician.
Incredibly, Hassett only won the captaincy by one vote when a mini-election was held in 1949.
Hassett would finish his career with one of the best conversion rates in history. In Tests, Hassett scored 11 half-centuries and 10 centuries. In first-class action, he managed 75 half-centuries and a whopping 59 tons.