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Opinion

The Australian cricket all-time great alphabet teams: Letter D

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Roar Guru
17th February, 2020
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Following the C Team, we come to the D Team.

They struggle a little with batting and bowling depth compared to some of the top teams, but they have some decent bowlers and one of Australia’s greatest ever bowling all-rounders.

John Dyson (New South Wales)

30 Tests, 1359 runs at 26.64, two centuries, 127* high score
Highest ICC batting ranking: 32 (December 1982)

John Dyson is probably best known for his classic catch in a one-day match as he leapt up and back to take the ball well over his head. But Dyson was also a solid first-class opening bat, though his Test returns were modest.

Dyson had the misfortune to open for Australia when they were a struggling side and came up against Ian Botham and Bob Willis for England and also the West Indies pace bowling production line. But he managed to average 27 against each of these sides and scored his two centuries, one against each of them.

His greatest achievement was in the 1981 home series against the West Indies, when in Sydney he scored 127 not out in the second innings to guide Australia to a draw against Michael Holding, Sylvester Clarke, Joel Garner and Colin Croft.

At first-class level Dyson scored nearly 10,000 runs at over 40, including 19 centuries.

Dyson also played 29 one-day games for Australia. In a different scoring era he averaged 29 with a rollicking strike rate of 48.61.

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Joe Darling (South Australia) (captain)

34 Tests, 1657 runs at 28.56, three centuries, 178 high score
Highest ICC batting ranking: 1 (March 1898)

Opening with Dyson is Joe Darling, an Australia captain and left-hand batsman during the 1890s and 1900s. His record, while not imposing by today’s standards, was solid for its time, and he scored over 10,000 first-class runs.

By far his best performances came in the 1897-98 home Ashes when he scored 537 series runs at 67. He became the first player to score three centuries in a single series, but he never scored another century in his Test career. During his highest score of 178 in Adelaide Darling hit the first six in Test cricket – on those days to be a six the ball had to be hit out of the ground. He also hit the first Test match six in England in 1902. Apart from this one series, Darling never averaged over 30 in any other.

Darling captained Australia 21 times, including on three tours to England – 1899, 1902 and 1905 – winning the first two.

Darling retired in 1908 to become a farmer in Tasmania, where he was later elected to state government. Darling’s father was also a politician in South Australia and performed the opening ceremony for the Adelaide Oval.

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Michael di Venuto (Tasmania)

Nine ODIs, 241 runs at 26.77

Michael di Venuto takes the pivotal No. 3 position. He had a stellar first-class career but in a strong batting era never played a Test for Australia. He did manage nine one-day games, scoring two 50s.

But it was at first-class level that Di Venuto racked up some truly impressive numbers. From 336 matches in Australia and England he scored 25,200 runs at just under 46, including 60 centuries and a high score of 254 not out. He scored a further 10,000 runs in List A one-day games and T20s.

Di Venuto scored over 900 runs in back to back seasons in 2006-07, helping Tasmania to their maiden Sheffield Shield title, and 2007-08 before leaving Australian cricket to play for Durham in the County Championship. He retired as Tasmania’s second-highest first-class run scorer and with the most career runs for his state in 50-over domestic games. He currently sits eighth for most ever career Sheffield Shield runs.

In England he scored over 1600 runs at an average of 80 in the 2009 county season to help Durham to the championship. He then went on to play T20 internationals for Italy before retiring.

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Reg Duff (New South Wales)

22 Tests, 1317 runs at 35.59, two centuries, 146 high score
Highest ICC batting ranking: 2 (August 1905), behind FS Jackson (England)

Our No. 4 is Reg Duff, who was a colourful and tragic cricketer from the turn of the century. He scored a century on debut at the MCG batting at No. 10 – he was actually normally an opener but had been held back due to a wet wicket, a common tactic in the era of uncovered wickets. Like Greg Chappell 80 years later, Duff was one of the very few cricketers to score centuries in their first and last Tests. They were his only two hundreds.

Duff was one of the best batsmen of his time and he scored over 1000 first-class runs on both the 1902 and 1905 Ashes tours of England.

Unfortunately, Duff suffered from alcoholism, which affected his career, and he died penniless at only 33 years old.

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Len Darling (Victoria)

12 Tests, 474 runs at 27.88
Highest ICC batting ranking: 25 (July 1936)

A third left-hander in a row, Len Darling played 12 Tests for Australia in the 1930s. He was considered a bit of a dasher and a superb catcher but never really got going at Test level, with a top score of only 85.

Darling scored 5780 first-class runs at 42.5, including 16 hundreds and a high score of 188. He scored 96 on state debut to help Victoria draw a match with New South Wales after Donald Bradman had scored 340 not out.

After two good seasons in 1932 and 1933 he was brought in for the last two Tests of the Bodyline series and hit his top score of 85. He had a poor tour of England in 1934 but continued to play well in the domestic competition. Darling toured South Africa in 1935 and was at the other end when Stan McCabe hit such a brutal 189 not out that the fielding captain appealed against the light to protect his fieldsmen!

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Darling retired at only 27 and moved to South Australia with his wife for work. Previously he’d been working at the MCG painting seats and fences but took a job as a sales manager on the condition he no longer travelled for cricket. Darling continued to play club cricket and led Sturt to three titles in four years. He also played baseball and represented Australia in that sport.

Alan Davidson (New South Wales)

Left-arm fast-medium, 44 Tests, 1328 runs at 24.5; 186 wickets at 20.53, best bowling 7-93, Cricket Australia hall of fame
Highest ICC batting ranking: 28 (December 1959), highest bowling ranking: 1 (January 1960), highest all-rounder ranking: 1 (December 1960)

He might be coming in a little high at No. 6, but Alan Davidson was Australia’s greatest left-arm bowler and among our greatest ever seamers. His batting was also in the bowling all-rounder class. Along with fellow all-rounder Richie Benaud, Davidson was part of a very successful era for Australian cricket.

Davidson’s first 15 Tests were unremarkable, with only one half-century and no more than three wickets in any Test and a bowling average that peaked at just over 34. Then suddenly in South Africa in 1957 Davidson took 25 wickets at 17 and for the next five years was possibly the premier bowler in world cricket.

His next series, at home to England, reaped another 24 wickets as his batting also gained consistency. The Subcontinent held no fears for Davidson as he next took 41 wickets across eight Tests in Pakistan and India.

And then came his magnum opus. In the famous tied Test between Australia and the West Indies in Brisbane Davidson scored 124 runs for the match and took 11 wickets as he did everything possible to drag his team over the line. He took a remarkable 33 wickets in the four-Test series.

Only two more series followed, away and home to England, but Davidson’s excellent bowling returns remained until the end, taking another 47 wickets across the two series. Since that South African tour in 1957 Davidson took his final 170 wickets at a remarkable 19.25.

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He finished his career with a bowling average of 20.53, the eighth-best for bowlers with over 100 wickets and the very best for over 150 wickets. Of those ranked above him, not one bowled after World War I.

Tony Dodemaide (Victoria)

Right-arm medium-fast, ten Tests, 202 runs at 22.44; 34 wickets at 28.02, best bowling 6-58.
Highest ICC bowling ranking: 23 (November 1988)

Dodemaide was a long-serving bowling all-rounder for Victoria who had a brief Test and one-day career in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His Test figures were quite good and his ODI figures were very good, bowling with an average of 20.91 and only 3.4 runs per over given up, including five wickets on debut.

However, he peaked early, scoring his only Test 50 and taking his only five-wicket haul in his first Test against New Zealand in Melbourne in December 1987. His returns diminished from that point on and he was apparently finished in Tests by the end of 1988. This could in part be attributed to his disjointed career – he played his first four Tests against four different countries.

Dodemaide was then recalled in 1992 for a tour of Sri Lanka. Despite taking six wickets at 25 for the series, he was never selected again.

A long career for Victoria was highlighted by taking eight wickets in the state’s 1991 Sheffield Shield final victory. Dodemaide scored nearly 6000 runs and took over 500 wickets in first-class cricket.

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Greg Dyer (New South Wales) (wicketkeeper)

Six Tests, 131 runs at 21.83, 22 catches and two stumpings

Greg Dyer played a few Tests and ODIs in the mid to late-1980s and was involved in a couple of significant events during his time in national colours. Firstly, Dyer took the catch off Mike Gatting’s infamous reverse sweep in the 1987 ODI World Cup final, virtually handing the title to Australia. Secondly, while he does not quite generate the Kiwi vitriol reserved for Greg Chappell, Dyer added a chapter of his own to that complicated relationship by taking a ‘catch’ from Andrew Jones in Melbourne in 1987 that he had actually fumbled onto the ground.

Dyer was one of a number of keepers tried between the retirement of Rod Marsh and the emergence of Ian Healy. With only one 50 in six Tests and 23 ODIs Dyer couldn’t make the position his own despite never losing a Test.

Bruce Dooland (South Australia)

Leg spin, three Tests, 76 runs at 19.00; nine wickets at 46.55

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Bruce Dooland represented Australia in the years immediately after World War 2. He took a hat-trick for South Australia in 1946-47 as part of a solid season and was selected for the third and fourth Tests against England. His contributions were okay without being spectacular and he failed to keep his place.

Dooland played one more Test against India but was overlooked for the 1948 Ashes and left for England to play county cricket. He played for Nottinghamshire between 1953 and 1957, when he achieved the 1000 runs and 100 wickets in a season twice, and was a Wisden cricketer of the year in 1955. Dooland took the most wickets of any county bowler in both the 1953 and 1954 seasons, the latter 181 wickets, still a Nottinghamshire record.

Overall in first-class cricket Dooland scored more than 7000 runs and took over 1000 wickets at an average just under 22.

During his career Dooland also toured New Zealand in 1946 with a non-Test ‘Australian’ side and he also toured India in 1950-51 with a Commonwealth team, during which he scored two centuries.

Adam Dale (Queensland)
Right-arm medium, two Tests, six wickets at 31.16
Highest ICC ODI bowling ranking: 7 (March 1999)

Adam Dale was the Chad Sayers of his day. Not considered quick enough for international Test cricket, he was, however, deadly at domestic level, where he took 245 career wickets at an average of only 20.75. His Queensland Sheffield Shield average of 22.09 is the best for any Queensland player with a minimum of 20 matches and the ninth-best in all of Shield history.

Dale’s domestic highlight was probably the 1997 Shield final against Western Australia, snaring nine wickets as Queensland produced a rare away final win. Dale took six for 38 off 22 overs as Western Australia were shot out for 165 in the first innings. This included each of the top three, plus No. 7, 8 and 9. The names on that list were Michael Hussey, Adam Gilchrist, Murray Goodwin, Ryan Campbell, Brendon Julian and Jo Angel. In the second innings Dale took out both the Western Australia openers (bowling Hussey) to have Western Australia 2-9 and snuff out any chance of an unlikely recovery.

Dale’s two Tests were away to India and the West Indies respectively and he performed reasonably well, taking three wickets in each Test. Australia had a rare away win against India, with Dale being the best bowler in the first innings, his three victims including Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. He was also on the winning side against the West Indies.

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Unlike Sayers, Dale was considered a valuable one-day player and played 30 internationals. His economy rate of 3.68 showed his relentless accuracy, but he was not a major wicket-taking threat, never taking more than two in a match. Dale was part of the 1999 World Cup squad but played only two matches.

Geoff Dymock (Queensland)

Left-arm fast-medium, 21 Tests, 78 wickets at 27.12, best bowling 7-67 and 12-166
Highest ICC bowling ranking: 4 (January 1980)

In an era of Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson, Max Walker, Rodney Hogg, Len Pascoe and others, Geoff Dymock managed to forge a career of 21 Tests as an unpretentious hardworking left-arm seamer. After topping the Sheffield Shield wicket-taking list in 1973-74 Dymock was selected for the Australia Day Adelaide Test in 1974 against New Zealand. He was an immediate success, taking five second-innings wickets and securing a spot on the subsequent New Zealand tour. His returns there were modest, however, and he went back to domestic cricket after one Test of the 1974-75 Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson Ashes.

Dymock stayed with the Establishment during the World Series Cricket years and was recalled to bolster the national side for their home series against England in 1978-79. He subsequently toured India, taking 24 wickets in five Tests. The highlight was in Kanpur, where Dymock took 12 wickets in the match across a whopping 63 overs in a losing cause and became just the third bowler to dismiss all 11 opposition batsmen in a single test.

As a result Dymock played in five of the six Tests of the 1979-80 unification series against England and the West Indies, taking 28 wickets at 19.6. This included six second-innings wickets in the first Test against England in Perth, dismissing No. 11 Bob Willis to leave Geoffrey Boycott stranded on 99 not out after carrying his bat through the innings.

A subsequent tour to Pakistan was a disaster, however, taking only a single wicket across two Tests. This signalled the end of Dymock’s international career. He finished having averaged under 30 against every nation bar Pakistan and averaged 28.36 in Asia.

At domestic level Dymock was a workhorse for Queensland over many years, taking 425 first-class wickets at under 27.

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Next up we have the E Team. It’s not our strongest, but one of their players once scored 500 in a single innings.