Rick Darling

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Rick Darling
Personal information
Full name Warrick Maxwell Darling
Born (1957-05-01) 1 May 1957 (age 57)
Waikerie, Australia
Batting style Right-handed
Role Batsman
Relations J Darling (great-uncle)
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 292) 28 January 1978 v India
Last Test 3 November 1979 v India
ODI debut (cap 41) 22 February 1978 v West Indies
Last ODI 23 January 1982 v West Indies
Domestic team information
Years Team
1975–1986 South Australia
Career statistics
Competition Test ODI FC LA
Matches 14 18 98 31
Runs scored 697 363 5554 758
Batting average 26.80 21.35 35.83 27.07
100s/50s 0/6 0/1 9/32 1/3
Top score 91 74 134 101*
Balls bowled 32
Wickets 0
Bowling average
5 wickets in innings
10 wickets in match
Best bowling
Catches/stumpings 5/– 6/– 31/– 8/–
Source: CricketArchive, 15 April 2010

Warwick Maxwell "Rick" Darling (born 1 May 1957) is a former Australian Test cricketer.

His tendency to play the cut and hook shots provided much entertainment, but also meant that he was inconsistent and error-prone. It has been said that the introduction of the batting helmet saved Darling's life several times, but also gave him extra confidence to play his favoured shots. Darling's early Test career was also characterised by his opening partnerships with Graeme Wood, the pair christened the "Kamikaze Kids" due to their often disastrous running between the wickets, which saw one of the pair dismissed run out in one innings of each of their four Tests together.


Darling is the great-nephew of Joe Darling, and learnt to play cricket at his family's home at Ramco on the Murray River. He started playing for the Salisbury Cricket Club in the Adelaide district competition in 1970–71, and started his first-class career in 1975–76 with South Australia, winning the Sheffield Shield that season.

Darling was given his chance in the Australian Test team through the defection of several players to World Series Cricket, and made his debut as an opener against India in the summer of 1977–78 at Adelaide for the fifth test.[1]

Test Debut[edit]

Darling made 65 and 56 in his first Test, impressing fans with his fearless style. He opened with fellow 20 year old Graeme Wood.[2][3]

West Indies Tour[edit]

This performance was enough to earn him a spot on the following tour of the West Indies, where he was also a member of the one-day team. In the overall tour he performed well, making two centuries against spin-based attacks. However, the pace bowling of the West Indies national team found his technical weakness quickly, and he scored just 43 runs in his six Test innings on the tour.[9]

Darling scored 26 and 35 against Leeward Islands[4] then 105 and 43 against Trinidad and Tobago.[5] He missed the first test due to injury, but recovered and made 62 against Barbados.[6]

He was picked for the second test but failed twice.[7] A knock of 123 against Guyana restore his confidence[8] but he failed twice again in the third test.[9] He made 12 and 36 against the Windward Islands[10] and failed again in the fourth test.[11]


A series of low scores in both forms of the game saw Darling pushed in and out of the team, before his finest Test innings of 91 against England at Sydney in the 4th Test of the 1978–79 series. It was the next match for which he is perhaps most famous though, as he was struck on the chest by a delivery that lifted viciously from fast bowler Bob Willis. The blow caused Darling's chewing gum to become lodged in his throat, and he collapsed on the pitch, not breathing. English spinner John Emburey was first on the scene, and thumped Darling on the chest, allowing him to breathe again. Umpire Max O'Connell then provided mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and Darling was taken off the field. He returned to the crease the following day, but could only make 15 runs as Australia fell to a crushing 205-run loss, which allowed England to retain The Ashes.[10]

Although his international batting performances were not impressive, it was reported that World Series Cricket officials had offered Darling a contract for the upcoming 1980/81 WSC season (which did not eventuate).[12]

Career batting graph for Rick Darling

Darling was described as one of the most nervous first-class cricketers, often biting his fingernails before he went out to bat.

1979 India Tour[edit]

He was selected for Australia's tour of India in 1979, and despite making 75 and 79 in the second Test as an opener, he expressed his aversion to starting the innings to captain Kim Hughes, who agreed to drop him down the order during the following tour in India. Darling made his best scores of that series in the lower positions, but was still plagued by inconsistencies which gave him of an average of 19.75 for the tour. In the final Test, Darling was hit on the head attempting a hook shot from a Kapil Dev bouncer, and was carried off the field and forced to retire hurt with no score to his name.[11] His head split open, Darling was taken to hospital, where, according to Bob Merriman, the doctors refused to stitch him up until he signed an autograph for them.[12] (Darling later said this was untrue.[13]

Later Career[edit]

The poor performances throughout the tour and the return of the World Series Cricket players meant that this would be his final Test series, although he continued playing in ODIs until 1981–82.[14]

Darling continued to play for South Australia until 1985–86, helping his state to the Sheffield Shield in 1981–82 with 726 runs - the season's top score for SA, and his omission from the Australian team to tour Pakistan in 1982 surprised several observers.

During the 1983-84 summer he clashed with South Australian captain David Hookes who wanted Darling to open, but he wanted to bat down the order.[15] Darling later recalled:

The one that finished my career was when I got hit in my eye by John Maguire from Queensland...He got one to really rear up, and I got back to hook and it went between the visor and the top part of the helmet and smashed in my eye. That finished me. After that, I didn't want to be there. I thought of other things I wanted to do in life. Even though I continued playing on in Shield for two or three years, I just didn't want to be there.[13]

Darling with drew for the 83/84 season but returned for 84/85.[16]


Overall, he played 98 first-class games, finishing with a batting average of 35.83. Darling was renowned for being one of the country's best cover fieldsmen of his time.


In 2014 Darling was working as a gardener at a retirement home.[13]



  1. ^ - Alan McGilvray (1978). "Alan McGilvray's Australian Selection". ABC Cricket Book - England Tour of Australia 1978-79. Sydney, Australia: Australian Broadcasting Commission. p. 21. ISBN 0-642-97244-3. 
  2. ^ - "The Ashes, 1978-79, 5th Test scorecard". Cricinfo. Retrieved 3 January 2006. 
  3. ^ - Partab Ramchand (26 February 2001). "India one up at the Wankhede stadium". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2 January 2006. 
  4. ^ - "Shake those Pompoms!". The Sports Factor. ABC Radio National. 8 October 2004. Retrieved 2 January 2006. 
  5. ^ - "Whalley Cricket Club". Retrieved 2 January 2006. 


  1. ^ "'Baptism of fire' for Darling, Wood.". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) (ACT: National Library of Australia). 24 January 1978. p. 1 Section: SPORTS SECTION. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Newcomers lift Australia.". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) (ACT: National Library of Australia). 30 January 1978. p. 1. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ [5]
  8. ^ [6]
  9. ^ [7]
  10. ^ [8]
  11. ^ ]http://cricketarchive.com/Archive/Scorecards/37/37924.html]
  12. ^ Australian Cricket, "People...", March 1979, p. 5.
  13. ^ a b c Sidharth Monga, "Rick Darling: bouncer magnet", Cricinfo 14 December 2014 accessed 15 December 2014
  14. ^ "Large crowd expected at MCG game.". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) (ACT: National Library of Australia). 22 November 1981. p. 27. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Victoria and SA fade to drawn match.". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) (ACT: National Library of Australia). 29 November 1983. p. 24. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  16. ^ "CRICKET Big summer ahead.". The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995) (ACT: National Library of Australia). 10 October 1984. p. 40. Retrieved 15 December 2014. 
  • 200 Seasons of Australian Cricket. Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited. 1997. pp. 454–455, 485. ISBN 0-330-36034-5. 
  • Pollard, Jack (1982). Australian Cricket - The Game and the Players. Hodder and Stoughton (Australia) Pty Limited. pp. 310–311. ISBN 0-340-28796-9. 

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