By Webteam - 9th September 2017 6:05am
Frederick Robert "Fred" Spofforth, also known as "The Demon Bowler", was arguably the Australian cricket team's finest pace bowler of the nineteenth century and was the first bowler to take 50 Test wickets, and the first to take a Test hat-trick in 1879. He played in Test matches for Australia between 1877 and 1887. In 2011, he was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame.
Spofforth spent his early childhood in Hokianga, New Zealand and was later educated privately at the Reverend John Pendrill's Eglinton House on Glebe Road and, for a short time, at Sydney Grammar School.
He began his life as a bowler with underarm "lobs" but changed his style when he saw the great England quick bowlers on their tour of the colonies in 1863/64. He decided that he would pursue the overarm action and spent many years mastering it. Spofforth came to notice as a member of the New South Wales eighteen in January 1874 when he took two wickets for sixteen in a match against W.G. Grace's English eleven. Although he batted reasonably well during the 1878 and 1880 Australian tours in England, from then he concentrated almost solely. Spofforth played his first Test match in 1877 in Melbourne.
Spofforth truly announced himself to the cricketing world on 27 May 1878, when the touring Australians met the MCC at Lord's. In this, the second match of the tour, the might of the MCC was dismissed twice in one day at the fortress of English cricket for paltry scores of just 33 and nineteen. The colonists won by nine wickets, with Spofforth picking up ten for twenty after first clean-bowling Grace for a duck. As a consequence of this victory, Spofforth became known forever as "The Demon Bowler". He was the bowler whom English batsmen most feared and is also regarded as the one who first brought into the game, as a scaring technique, eye-to-eye contact with the batsman. During the 1878 tour Spofforth was credited with as many as 110 wickets at an average of under 10½ runs.
His bowling style worked to particularly devastating effect in the match that gave birth to the legendary Ashes series, at The Oval on 29 August 1882. In their second innings, England required a mere 85 runs to clinch the match, but Spofforth refused to give up — "Boys," he said famously, "this thing can be done"--and led his team to a remarkable victory, one of the closest ever in the history of Test cricket. The Australians won by seven runs, Spofforth taking match figures of fourteen for ninety.
Fred Spofforth played his last Test match in Sydney in January 1887 in which he bowled twelve overs, conceded seventeen runs and took one wicket.
Born 9th September 1853 in Balmain, New South Wales, Australia
Died 4th June 1926 in Surrey, England
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