Advertisement

Warwick Armstrong

Allrounder

Bats Right Hand.
Bowls Right Arm Fast-Med

Allrounder

Bats Right Hand.
Bowls Right Arm Fast-Med

AGE
141
HEIGHT
191cmCM
BORN

Kyneton

COUNTRY

STATE

NSW

NSW

Bio

Ashes Tests: 42

Captain: 10

Record: 8 wins, 2 draws

Off the Mark

Warwick Armstrong will go down as one of the most successful Australian captains of all time. The 1920/21 side became the first Australian outfit to whitewash England 5-0. In 42 Ashes Tests, Armstrong scored 2,172 at an average of 35.03. He also took 74 wickets at just under 31.

Despite weighing in excess of 130 kg, Armstrong always remained a supreme talent on the field. The onset of malaria couldn’t stop him from becoming Australia’s first post-war leader in a time when cricket in this country needed a timely boost.

His Stint

Armstrong was initially selected to lead Australia against South Africa in 1914, but the impending War meant that the tour had to be cancelled. Instead, both he and Australia had to wait until 1920/21 for the English to come to Australia for what would turn out to be the most successful series in history.

Armstrong dominated the series from the get go with both his tactical nous as well as with the bat. In the first Test at the SCG, Australia reached an acceptable 267. Armstrong surprised the crowd, and the English it seemed, by handing Charles Kelleway the new ball. It took one delivery for the slower Kelleway to justify his captain, as he knocked over Jack Russell. Leading by 77, Armstrong took it upon himself to win the match, and he did so with a faultless 158.

The dominance continued throughout the tour, with Armstrong regularly leading from the front. The captain picked up six wickets at the MCG, before notching back to back centuries in Adelaide and Melbourne.

 

After routing the English at home, Armstrong was intent on inflicting similar damage abroad. 5-0 looked a likely result when the Australians swept the first three matches, only for rain to ruin the final two Tests. Fittingly, it was Armstrong who sealed the triumph in the third Test at Headingley, with 77 and 28*, as well as 2/44 and 2/6 with the ball.

The last two Tests were somewhat controversial. In the fourth Test at Old Trafford, Armstrong refused to accept England’s declaration as he felt it was against the laws of cricket. In the final match, Armstrong used his part-time bowlers against Phil Mead, whom he perceived as a slow scorer. Mead scored 182* in a match that petered out to a draw.

His Legacy

Captaincy certainly sat well with Armstrong. His eight wins in a row was a record at the time, and it was unlucky not to be ten on the trot. While some might argue that he was gifted a champion team, few can take away what Armstrong did for the game. He even jokingly said “It is better to be lucky than good.”

Armstrong’s record as captain far outweighed his form as a regular squad member. In 10 matches, he managed 616 runs at 56, including three centuries. In 40 matches as non-captain, he only averaged 35.67.

Armstrong was rather laconic in his approach to both captaincy and life itself. He didn’t care about his personal appearance, and was known for being a heavy drinker. His weight would have held him back in today’s sporting climate, but in those days, it made him a hero for the masses.

Some people felt that it was his relaxed approach that led to the Board gaining more control than it had ever held. This transfer of power wasn’t good for the players, who lost a lot of their benefits in the ensuing years, while the role of the captain became less powerful than ever before.

Played and Missed

The 5-0 series whitewash was the first of its kind until the Australian side repeated the dose in 2006.

In 1921, Armstrong became the first and last bowler in Test history to bowl consecutive overs.

During his final match in charge, Armstrong retreated to the boundary to read a newspaper as he knew a draw was the only possible outcome.

Armstrong was the first captain to introduce the two-pronged pace attack during the 1921 tour of England.

Fittingly, he ended his professional career as an agent representing Peter Dawson’s Scotch whisky distillery.

Advertisement