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Neil Harvey

Batter

Bats Left Hand.
Bowls Right Arm Off-Spin

Batter

Bats Left Hand.
Bowls Right Arm Off-Spin

AGE
91
HEIGHT
CM
BORN

Fitzroy

COUNTRY

STATE

VIC

VIC
LOCAL CLUB

Fitzroy

Bio

Ashes Tests: 37

Captain: 1

Record: 1-0

Off the Mark

Neil Harvey was, and still is, one of Australia’s greatest left-handed batsmen. His stroke-play across the ground was virtually unrivalled at the time, and is still talked about today.

Harvey’s record against England wasn’t as eye-catching as Bradman’s, but it was forever consistent. He managed 2,416 runs at 38.34, with the highlight being a century on his Ashes debut.

His Stint

Despite being an ever-present member of the leadership group, Harvey only ever captained Australia once. The 1960/61 Ashes started perfectly for Harvey, whose 114 salvaged a draw for the tourists. His timely knock promoted him to skipper when Richie Benaud was forced out with a nagging shoulder injury.

The Test, played at lord’s, couldn’t have been a more fitting venue for Harvey. Looking at the pitch, both teams knew they were in for a hellish encounter. The groundsmen must have forgotten about looking after the actual wicket, because there was a massive ridge running along the pitch. With unplayable variations in bounce predicted, any score of around 300 was going to be vital.

The English had first use of the pitch, and were greeted by a hostile Alan Davidson. The paceman routed the hosts, finishing with 5/42. The spell didn’t just hurt England on the scoreboard, but it also left several of their batsmen battered and bruised. Australia’s reply started shakily, but the ever-reliable Bill Lawry added 130 in just over six hours. Australia’s 340 was worth 500 on any other pitch. Graham McKenzie then replaced Davidson in the second innings as chief destroyer. He took 5/37 from 29 overs to skittle the hosts for 202. Needing just 69 for victory, Australia limped to 4/19. After getting out, Harvey told the incoming Peter Burge to swing for the fences. Burge obliged, hitting a whirlwind 37*.

His Legacy

Many people believe Neil Harvey would have made an excellent long term captain. Yet, for whatever reason, he only served the role on one occasion. If the match at Lord’s is anything to go by, you could say Australia missed out on an excellent leader. His aggressive approach set the tone for players like Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting. Harvey was vice-captain for three different Australian generals, and you could see that he had learned a fair bit.

As a player, Harvey loved a challenge. He was a free-flowing batsman who liked to cash in after making a start. His 21 international tons would have been a record, had he not been competing with the greatest player of all time.

Harvey’s fielding is one aspect of his game that should never be ignored. He finished with 64 catches, including 25 against England. He had a terrific arm, and once had four run outs in a match.

Played and Missed

Harvey saved his best form for his final matches. In his penultimate Test, he scored 154 against England. In his final Shield encounter, he recorded his highest ever score (231 against South Australia).

When he retired, he was the most capped Test cricketer at the time.

Harvey always believed that cricket in his era was far better than anything played in modern times.

His 153 against India made him the youngest Australian to score a Test match hundred (19 years of age).

Harvey has enjoyed many plaudits during his career: Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1954, a national selector for 12 years, he was inducted into the Australian and ICC Hall of Fame, he was named in the Australian Team of the Century, and most importantly, he was given an MBE. 

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