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Opinion

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

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Roar Guru
29th February, 2020
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So following on from last time’s super strong H team, we come to the I team, one of the potential strugglers.

They have some mystery and quality to them, especially the bowlers, and they have players who at their peak were among the best in the world, but the depth is a problem.

Frank Iredale (NSW) – 14 Tests, 807 runs at 36.68, two centuries, 140 high score
Opening the batting is Frank Iredale, a prolific batsman for NSW who played 14 Tests in the late 1800s. He played all of his 14 Tests against England, across two home and two away series.

Iredale had a bright start to Test cricket, scoring 81 on debut in Sydney and scoring at least a half century in each of his first three Tests, culminating in 140 in the second innings in Adelaide as Australia thumped England by 382 runs.

Iredale played two Tests on the 1896 tour of England, scoring a century in Manchester (his fourth century in a row on tour) as Australia recorded a three-wicket win. In the return series in Australia in 1897-98, he recorded a pair of 80s in Australia’s wins in the second and third Tests for a comprehensive 4-1 series victory, by which time he was arguably the world’s premier batsman.

Iredale finished his career after a lean second tour of England in 1899, where he struggled in the Tests although he did score 1000 tour runs for a second time.

At domestic level Iredale topped the Shield run aggregate in the 1895-96 season as NSW won their first Sheffield Shield title. He topped the run-scoring for NSW again in 1898-99.

Iredale also holds the unusual record of being the first Test batsman (and one of only three to date) to be run out attempting a fifth run, at the Oval in 1896.

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Jock Irvine (WA) – 24 first-class matches, 1946 runs at 31.90, three centuries, 182 high score
Jock Irvine was a middle-order batsman from Western Australia who was part of their first ever Sheffield Shield winning team in 1967-68. He did play a few first-class games as opener, so he moves to the top of the order.

Irvine was a solid batsman for WA from 1964, scoring 74 not out on debut. He scored over 650 runs in the 1968-69 season, including two centuries. This resulted in selection for the 1969-70 tour of Sri Lanka, India and South Africa. Irvine was not selected for any of the Tests, performing modestly in 11 tour matches.

John Inverarity (WA) (left-arm orthodox) (captain) – six Tests, 174 runs at 17.4
John Inverarity only played six fairly non-descript Tests, but it was in the Sheffield Shield that he made his mark. Inverarity was the heart and soul of WA over a long career, the men from the west winning six titles during his career. He played the second most matches in Shield history, for WA and then SA, and is ranked 14th for career Shield runs.

Inverarity’s first-class career reads 223 matches, 11,777 runs at 35.90 and 221 wickets at 30.67. A true all-rounder.

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In 1967-68 Inverarity topped the Shield season runs and scored 173 in WA’s must-win final game to win the title. In 1971-72 he again topped the Shield seasons runs as WA won the title. He also topped WA’s season runs in their 1973-74 title win. After leaving WA for the more spin-friendly SA, he topped the Shield season wickets with his left-arm spinners in 1984-85.

John Inverarity (left) and Darren Lehmann.

John Inverarity (left) is perhaps better known for his period as a selector. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Brad Inwood (QLD) – seven first-class matches, 232 runs at 33.14, four wickets at 33
Brad Inwood played as a middle-order batsman for Queensland during the second half of the 1980s. He was selected after an impressive club season for Northern Suburbs in 1984-85 where he topped the batting aggregates with 633 runs.

For Queensland, Inwood had a solid start to his first-class career, playing four games in 1986-87, averaging over 40 and scoring two half centuries. This included top scoring with 66 on debut against South Australia after coming in at number seven. He scored his second first-innings half century in his next Shield match, against Tasmania, before being run out for 21 in his final game for the season.

That season, Inwood also got to play against the touring West Indies side, facing up to an attack of Joel Garner, Courtney Walsh and Michael Holding as he struggled to 15 from 91 balls.

Inwood was not selected again until 1989-90 and never cemented his place in the state side, not scoring more than 20 in three matches that year.

Mervyn Inverarity (WA) (right-arm medium/leg spin) – 26 first-class matches, 736 runs at 17.11, 53 wickets at 39.69
Mervyn Inverarity, father of John, is another cricketer who excelled at club level but probably did not stand out in the first-class arena. His returns over 26 first-class matches were modest, although he did captain the state twice before World War Two.

This was before WA were part of the Sheffield Shield, so there was a lack of consistent top-level cricket. But for the Fremantle club, Inverarity held the all-time run-scoring, wicket-taking and catches-taken records.

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Josh Inglis (WA) (wicketkeeper) – 33 first-class matches and counting, 1491 runs at 29.23, 116 catches and one stumping
Josh Inglis is building a nice resume in Western Australia as a keeper-batsman in both first-class and limited-overs cricket. Since making his first-class debut in late 2015, the 24-year-old has played over 30 first-class games with solid results although he is yet to score a century (he has nine half centuries to his name).

It shows how little spin plays a part in WA and in first-class cricket in this country in general that Inglis has only one career stumping.

Inglis is opening for the Perth Scorchers in the BBL with some success, with two 50s and a career strike rate of over 130. Inglis can certainly bat, having scored a double century in the 2015 WA club competition first grade final.

Josh Inglis

(Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Bill Ives (NSW) (right-arm fast medium) – seven first-class matches, 176 runs at 29.33, 21 wickets at 20.61
Ives was a handy cricketer in the 1920s who played seven first-class matches for NSW, taking 21 wickets as a right-arm fast-medium bowler and averaging nearly 30 with the bat. He also went on a tour of North Queensland with NSW in 1930, alongside such players as Don Bradman, Stan McCabe and Alan Kippax.

Ives later toured Canada and North America with an Australia Invitational XI in 1932, captained by Victor Richardson and including Bradman, McCabe and Kippax. Australia played 51 matches on tour for no losses (some sources say one single loss) in 76 days.

Ives was also a representative rugby league player, making four appearances for NSW as a front-rower and winning two premierships with Eastern Suburbs.

Edward Illingworth (VIC) (right-arm medium) – five first-class matches, 155 runs at 17.22, 15 wickets at 27.60
Eddie Illingworth was a club stalwart for Fitzroy, taking nearly 600 wickets for the club over 20 years. He took the eighth most wickets in premier league cricket history. Illingworth only played five first-class games between 1962 and 1964, partly due to being called for chucking in a match against South Australia.

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Illingworth also played baseball for Victoria in the Claxton Shield in the 1960s. He was named in Victoria’s baseball team of the century and played at some level until he was 67.

Mathew Inness (VIC/WA) (left-arm fast medium) – 81 first-class matches, 281 wickets at 25.77
Mathew Inness had a distinguished first-class career for Victoria and Western Australia in the 1990s to 2000s, but despite very good stats and having over 100 wickets by the time he was 23, he was never selected for higher honours.

But Inness’ first class career of over 280 wickets at an average under 26 and strike rate under 55 puts him in line with the best of his era.

Inness retired at only 30 to pursue other interests but finished his career with a bang, taking 40 wickets at an average of just over 20 in his final season.

Bert Ironmonger (VIC) (left-arm orthodox) – 14 Tests, 74 wickets at 17.97, best bowling 7-23
Bert Ironmonger didn’t even play Test cricket until he was 46 years old, but at one time was ranked the number one bowler in the world.

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Ironmonger made his first-class debut in 1909 for Queensland when he was 27. Seven years later he moved to Victoria, but spent another decade at the lower levels before playing 14 Tests and becoming history’s second oldest Test player.

Even after selection in 1928 he made little impact and had to wait three more years for another chance. But in his second coming, over three seasons, Ironmonger took 68 wickets at an average of 15 in 12 Tests against the West Indies, South Africa and England, all at home. His career average is third on Australia’s all-time list.

‘Dainty’ Ironmonger’s career highlight was probably taking 31 wickets at an average of less than ten in a series against South Africa in 1931-32.

Ironmonger’s bowling ability was even more remarkable because he had lost the top of his index finger of his left hand as a child. He used the stub of the finger to put spin on the ball and bowled at almost medium pace with stifling accuracy.

Ironmonger was not renowned as a batsman, although during the 1932-33 Bodyline series he did survive an over to enable Bradman to complete a century. The legendary story has been repeated many times of how Ironmonger’s wife rang the dressing room as he was going out to bat and said something like: “Never mind, I’ll hold. He’ll be back soon.”

Jack Iverson (VIC) – five Tests, 21 wickets at 15.23, best bowling 6-52
Jack Iverson was a mystery spinner from the 1950s who spun the ball both ways with little change to his action by gripping the ball between his thumb and a bent middle finger and then flicking the ball out with the finger, a technique he developed by experimenting with a table-tennis ball.

Gideon Haigh in his biography of Iverson described it in this way: “The physical strain of flicking a 5.25 ounce sphere of leather, cork and twine down a twenty-two-yard pitch, both fast enough to obtain traction and precisely enough to regularly hit a perfect length, is almost unimaginable.”

As the first ever player to bowl the carrom ball, Iverson topped the Sheffield Shield wickets in 1949-50 and then took 75 wickets on a tour of New Zealand at an average around seven with an Australian XI.

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Iverson then played all five Tests in Australia’s dominant 1950-51 home Ashes series victory (winning the first four Tests before losing the dead-rubber fifth) before fading away as quickly as he had arrived. Iverson took 21 wickets in that series at an average just over 15.

Iverson suffered an ankle injury during the series and only played two first-class games thereafter before retiring from cricket.

Next we take on the J team, with a couple of batting geniuses and a whole lot of Johnsons.