Ron Saggers with the Australian cricket team in England in 1948

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Ron Saggers
RonSaggersNSW.jpg
Personal information
Full name Ronald Arthur Saggers
Born (1917-05-15)15 May 1917
Marrickville, New South Wales, Australia
Died 13 May 1987(1987-05-13) (aged 69)
Harbord, New South Wales, Australia
Batting style Right-hand batsman
Role Specialist wicket-keeper
International matches on tour
National side Australia
First Test on tour 22 July 1948 v England
Last Test on tour 22 July 1948 v England
Tour statistics
Tests FC
Matches 1 17
Runs scored 5 209
Batting average 5.00 23.22
100s/50s 0/0 1/0
Top score 5 104*
Balls bowled 0 0
Wickets n/a
Bowling average n/a
5 wickets in innings n/a
10 wickets in match n/a
Best bowling n/a
Catches/stumpings 3/0 23/20

Source: [], 25 February 2008

Ron Saggers was a member of Donald Bradman's famous Australian cricket team of 1948, which toured England and went undefeated in their 34 matches. This unprecedented feat by a Test side touring England earned them the sobriquet The Invincibles.

The team's reserve wicket-keeper, Saggers played in only the Fourth of five Tests, due to an injury to first-choice gloveman Don Tallon. The match was Saggers's Test debut and he scored five in his only innings with the bat and took three catches. Despite being the second-choice gloveman, Saggers conceded byes at a lower rate than Tallon did during the English summer. During the Fourth Test, Saggers conceded only six byes as England amassed a match total of 861, the lowest percentage of byes conceded by Australia in a match during the tour. Despite this, Tallon remained the favoured gloveman, as Bradman deemed him to be faster and more athletic.

Bradman rotated the two glovemen during the tour, and Saggers played in 17 of the 31 first-class matches, taking 23 catches and 20 stumpings. Due to Australia's powerful batting line-up, Saggers had few opportunities with the bat, scoring 209 runs at an average of 23.22, including his only century at first-class level, 104 not out against Essex.

Background[edit]

Saggers started the tour as the clear second-choice wicket-keeper, as Don Tallon had played in each of Australia's 11 Tests since the resumption of cricket after the Second World War,[1] while Saggers was yet to make his Test debut. Saggers made his first-class debut shortly before the start of the war, and after the resumption, was regarded as the second in line for Test selection behind Tallon. However, as Australia did not make any substantial tours in the years immediately after the end of hostilities, there was no need to take a reserve gloveman on such trips. However, the trip to England meant more than six months aborad, so a back-up wicketkeeper was needed, and Saggers was selected for his first national squad.[2]

Early tour[edit]

Australia traditionally fielded its first-choice team in the tour opener, which was customarily against Worcestershire.[3] Accordingly, Tallon was selected as the wicket-keeper for the match. Tallon scored six, made five dismissals and conceded 11 byes as Australia crushed the hosts by an innings and 17 runs.[4][5][6]

Tallon was then rested and Saggers took his place for the next county match against Leicestershire. Saggers scored six, took a catch in each innings and conceded only six byes as Australia won by an innings.[7] Saggers was then rested for the next two matches, against Yorkshire and Surrey. Australia scraped home by four wickets in the former and won by an innings in the latter. Tallon batted steadily with 10, 17 not out and 50 not out, but conceded 35 byes while taking two catches.[4][5][8][9] Tallon was having difficulty with the bounce and movement of the ball in English conditions, and sustained a bruised right finger when he lost sight of a Ray Lindwall bouncer on a misty morning during the Surrey match. He was hit after placing his hand over his face for protection, and the ball ran away for four byes.[10]

While Tallon nursed a bruised finger, Saggers played in three successive tour matches.[4][5] Against Cambridge University, he made two stumpings and took one catch, and was not required to bat as Australia won by an innings. He then played in the match against Essex where Australia scored 721 runs on the first day to set a new world record for the most runs scored in a day of first-class cricket. Saggers made his highest first-class score, 104 not out—the only first-class century of his career—in a partnership of 166 runs in 65 minutes of batting with Sam Loxton. This made him the fourth century-maker for the innings after Bill Brown, Bradman and Loxton.[11] Of Saggers's innings, former Test batsman Jack Fingleton said that "he reminded me at times of Alan Kippax in his artistry. He plays all the strokes."[12] Saggers took one catch as Australia won by an innings and 451 runs, their largest winning margin of the season.[4][5]

He then faced Oxford University, scoring six runs and taking one catch in another innings victory.[4][5] Saggers conceded six, eight and 14 byes respectively in the three matches. Up to this point, Saggers had conceded only 34 byes in his four tour matches, while Tallon had conceded 46 in three.N-[1]

The next match was against the Marylebone Cricket Club at Lord's. The MCC fielded seven players who went on to represent England in the Tests,N-[2] and were basically a full-strength Test team, as were Australia, who fielded their first-choice team. It was a chance for players from both countries to gain a psychological advantage ahead of the Test matches, and Tallon was selected ahead of Saggers despite conceding byes at a higher rate in the opening tour matches. Saggers looked on as Tallon conceded 26 byes and Australia won by an innings.[4][5][13]

There were four more county fixtures before the First Test, against Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Hampshire and Sussex. Australia drew the first two before winning the latter pair by eight wickets and an innings and 325 runs respectively.[4] Saggers played in all but the Nottinghamshire match.[5] Against Lancashire, Saggers came in at 6/145 and held up his end, making an unbeaten 22 as Australia reached 204. He then completed a stumping and conceded 11 byes as the hosts replied with 182 before the rain-affected match ended in a draw.[14] Saggers went without a dismissal and conceded 16 byes as Hampshire made 195 in their first innings. He came to the crease with Australia having scored 98 runs for the loss of seven wickets (7/98) and was last man out for 17, one of only four players to pass five,[15] as Australia made 117 and conceded a first innings lead for the first time in the season.[4][15][16] He then completed another stumping in the second innings and conceded four byes as Australia recovered to win by eight wickets.[15] Saggers' final opportunity to stake a claim for Test selection was in the match against Sussex. He did not concede a bye and took a catch in the first innings. Saggers was not required to bat as Australia declared their innings closed at 5/549, and then made three more dismissals and conceded five byes as Australia won by an innings.[17]

Test omission[edit]

Saggers (centre) pictured with Stan McCabe (left) and Don Tallon (right) during a country match in 1945.

In Saggers' last three matches before the First Test, he conceded 36 byes and made six dismissals.[14][15][17] In contrast, Tallon conceded 18 byes in his only match and scored 27.[18] Despite averaging more byes per innings than Saggers during the warm-up matches,N-[3] Tallon was retained in the Test team. He took four catches and conceded 17 byes as Australia won by eight wickets.[19]

Between Tests, Australia played Northamptonshire and Yorkshire, and Tallon was rested for both matches. The first was won by an innings and the second was drawn.[4][5] Saggers scored four against Northamptonshire and 22 against Yorkshire. After not making a dismissal against Northamptonshire,[20] he took two catches and two stumpings in the latter match. He conceded 14 and 10 byes in the two matches respectively.[5][20][21]

Tallon was retained for the Second Test at Lord's, where he scored 53, took three catches and conceded 16 byes as Australia won by 409 runs.[22] A dive to stop a leg glance resulted in Tallon severely bruising the little finger on his left hand.[23] Nursing his finger injury, Tallon was rested for both tour matches between the Tests, which were against Surrey and Gloucestershire. Australia won the matches by ten wickets and an innings respectively.[4][5] In Tallon's place, Saggers scored 12, completed a catch and made four stumpings while conceding 18 byes against Surrey. In the match against Gloucestershire, Saggers was deprived of an opportunity to bat as Australia amassed 7/774, its highest score of the tour and its second highest ever in England.[4][24] He took two catches, completed three stumpings and conceded 13 byes for the match.[5][25][26]

Tallon was retained as the teams then played out a draw in the Third Test at Manchester.[23][27] During the match, Tallon conceded 16 byes and dropped Denis Compton three times as the English batsman went from 50 to 145 not out.[28][29] Tallon's little left finger swelled up after the Third Test and he exacerbated the injury during the next tour match against Middlesex,[27] which Australia won by ten wickets.[30]

Test debut[edit]

As a result of Tallon's finger injury, Saggers made his Test debut in the Fourth Test, which started at Headingley on 22 July 1948.[31] As England made 496 runs in their first innings, Saggers took catches to remove Denis Compton for 23, caught down the leg side,[32] and Jim Laker for four.[31] During the innings, Saggers was noted by Fingleton for maintaining a quiet presence behind the stumps, whereas Tallon was characteristically known for loudly appealing in concert with the bowler when he was playing. Fingleton felt that Saggers' failure to appeal dampened the morale of the bowlers, who were vocally supported by Tallon in the other four Tests.[33] Australia conceded 496 runs but Saggers leaked only two byes.[31]

Australia replied with 458, but Saggers was unable to make a substantial contribution, stumped by England's wicket-keeper Godfrey Evans off the bowling of Laker for only five runs. England's second innings reached 8/365, as Saggers took one catch to secure the wicket of Ken Cranston and conceded four byes. This left Australia needing a world record Test run chase of 404 for victory. However, an innings of 182 runs from Arthur Morris and 173 not out from Bradman meant that Saggers was not required to bat in the second innings; Australia defeated England by seven wickets,[31] and set a world record for the highest successful Test run chase.[34] Saggers's six byes out of England's match total of 861 runs was the lowest percentage of byes conceded by Australia in a match on the tour.N-[4]

Saggers made six not out, completed two catches, a stumping and conceded 15 byes in the innings victory over Derbyshire,[4][5][35] before being rested in the next match against Glamorgan. In his first match back from injury, Tallon took a catch and two stumpings, but conceded 19 byes in a rain-affected draw.[5][36] Tallon's byes were 9.64% of the hosts' total, the highest percentage contribution made by byes to an innings on the tour.N-[4] Saggers returned for the nine-wicket win over Warwickshire and struggled, making a duck. Although he took two catches and a stumping, he conceded 28 byes, 9.56% of Warwickshire's total runs,[37] the second highest percentage contribution of byes to a match total against Australia.N-[4] Saggers was then rested for Australia's second match and second draw against Lancashire as Tallon made three dismissals and conceded 23 byes.[4][5][38] In the non-first-class match against Durham, Tallon played purely as a batsman, while Saggers kept wicket. Saggers came in at 8/226 and made 22 to help Australia reach 273. He then made two stumpings and conceded four byes as the hosts reached 5/73 when rain ended the match.[39] With Tallon fit again for the Fifth Test, Saggers was omitted as Australia won by an innings and 149 runs to complete a 4–0 series victory.[40]

Later tour matches[edit]

Seven matches remained on Bradman's quest to complete an English tour without defeat.[4] Tallon was rested for three consecutive matches against Kent,[41] the Gentlemen of England,[42] and Somerset,[4][5] and Saggers kept wickets in all three fixtures; Australia won all three by an innings.[4][5] Saggers made only eight as Australia scored 361 against Kent. He then conceded only two byes and took two catches and made two stumpings as the home side made 51 and 124.[41] Saggers did not bat as Australia amassed 5/610 against the Gentlemen of England. He then took a catch and conceded 19 byes as Australia enforced the follow on and won.[42] The match against Somerset was similar; Saggers did not bat in Australia's 5/560 declared, before making two stumpings and conceding eight byes.[43] In total, he made seven dismissals and conceded 29 byes in the six innings of the three matches.[41][42][43] Saggers was rested as Tallon returned for the following match against the South of England. Tallon took three catches and conceded 13 byes before the match was washed out when the hosts were dismissed for 298.[4][5][44]

Australia's biggest challenge in the post-Test tour matches was against the Leveson-Gower's XI. During the last tour in 1938, this team was effectively a full-strength England outfit, but this time Bradman insisted that only six current Test players be allowed to represent the hosts.[45][46] Bradman then fielded a first-choice team;[45] the only difference from the Fifth Test team was Ian Johnson's inclusion at the expense of Doug Ring. Saggers was left out as the match ended in a draw after multiple rain delays.[40][47]

The tour ended with two non-first-class matches against Scotland. In the first match, Tallon played as a batsman while Saggers kept wicket. Saggers scored only eight in Australia's 236 and then took two catches, three stumpings and conceded 13 byes in the innings victory.[48] In the second match in Aberdeen, Saggers was rested as Australia completed another innings win.[5][49]

Role[edit]

A chart showing Saggers's batting performance during the tour. The runs scored per innings are represented by the bars, with the red bars being Test innings and the pink bars being other first-class innings. The blue line is the average of the five most recent innings and the dots indicate not outs.[5]

The reserve wicket-keeper, Saggers played in 17 first-class matches and scored 209 runs at an average of 23.22,[5] including a career high score of 104 not out against Essex,[2] 23 catches and 20 stumpings, also career records for one season.[5] This compared with the first-choice gloveman Tallon, who scored 283 runs at 25.72.[50] In all his matches on tour, Tallon missed 249 byes as Australia conceded 5331 runs, a bye percentage of 4.67%. In contrast, Saggers conceded 221 byes from the 6190 runs scored against Australia when he was behind the stumps, a percentage of 3.57%.N-[4] In his 1950 book Farewell to cricket, Bradman said of Saggers, "[he] had not quite the speed or agility of Tallon but could always be relied on for a solid performance. A most polished and unostentatious player."[51]

During the tour, Saggers had few opportunities with the bat, generally batting between No. 8 and No. 10,N-[4] because Australia's frontline bowlers included the likes of Ray Lindwall, Colin McCool, Ian Johnson and Doug Ring, who were all capable batsmen. Lindwall scored two Test centuries in his career, while McCool scored 18 first-class centuries, one in Tests. Johnson and Ring both scored more than 20 fifties at first-class level.[52] As a result, many of the bowlers batted before he did. As Australia often won by an innings, and declared in the first innings on many occasions, Saggers only had 12 innings in his 17 first-class fixtures and was not out three times after his remaining partners had been dismissed.[5]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

Statistical notes[edit]

n-[1] a This statement regarding byes in the early warm-up matches can be verified by summation of the scorecards, as listed here.[6][7][8][9][53][54][55]

n-[2] a This statement regarding the team composition can be verified by inspecting the records of the respective matches, as attached.[13] [19][22][28][31][40]

n-[3] a This statement regarding byes in the warm-up matches can be verified by summation of the scorecards, as listed here.[6][7][8][9][13][14][15][17][18][53][54][55]

n-[4] a b c d This statement can be verified by consulting all of the scorecards for the matches, as listed here.[6][7][8][9][13][14][15][17][18][19][20][21][22][25][26][28][30][31][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44][47][48][49][53][54][55]

General notes[edit]

  1. ^ "D Tallon – Tests – Innings by innings list". Statsguru. Cricinfo. Retrieved 2007-07-31. 
  2. ^ a b Cashman, p. 267.
  3. ^ Haigh, Gideon (26 May 2007). "Gentrifying the game". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2007-06-01. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Matches, Australia tour of England, Apr-September 1948". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2008-07-16. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "Player Oracle RA Saggers 1948". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Worcestershire v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Leicestershire v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  8. ^ a b c d "Yorkshire v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  9. ^ a b c d "Surrey v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  10. ^ Perry (2000), p. 197.
  11. ^ "Rubbing their noses in it |". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2008-04-28. 
  12. ^ Fingleton, p. 67.
  13. ^ a b c d "MCC v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  14. ^ a b c d "Lancashire v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  15. ^ a b c d e f "Hampshire v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  16. ^ "Australians in England, 1948". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (1949 ed.). Wisden. pp. 226–227. 
  17. ^ a b c d "Sussex v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  18. ^ a b c "Nottinghamshire v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  19. ^ a b c "1st Test England v Australia at Nottingham June 10–15 1948". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  20. ^ a b c "Northamptonshire v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  21. ^ a b "Yorkshire v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  22. ^ a b c "2nd Test England v Australia at Lord's June 24–29 1948". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  23. ^ a b Perry (2000), p. 200.
  24. ^ "Australians in England, 1948". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (1949 ed.). Wisden. pp. 238–239. 
  25. ^ a b "Surrey v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  26. ^ a b "Gloucestershire v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  27. ^ a b Lemmon, p. 103.
  28. ^ a b c "3rd Test England v Australia at Manchester July 8–13 1948". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  29. ^ Fingleton, pp. 131–137.
  30. ^ a b "Middlesex v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  31. ^ a b c d e f "4th Test England v Australia at Leeds July 22–27 1948". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  32. ^ Fingleton, p. 158.
  33. ^ Fingleton, p. 152.
  34. ^ "Fourth Test Match England v Australia". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. Wisden. 1949. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  35. ^ a b "Derbyshire v Australians". CricketArchive. 1948-07-28. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  36. ^ a b "Glamorgan v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  37. ^ a b "Warwickshire v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  38. ^ a b "Lancashire v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  39. ^ a b "Durham v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  40. ^ a b c d "5th Test England v Australia at The Oval August 14–18 1948". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  41. ^ a b c d "Kent v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  42. ^ a b c d "Gentlemen v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2007-12-26. 
  43. ^ a b c "Somerset v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  44. ^ a b "South of England v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  45. ^ a b Perry (2005), pp. 253–254.
  46. ^ Fingleton, pp. 207–209.
  47. ^ a b "H.D.G. Leveson-Gower's XI v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  48. ^ a b "Scotland v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  49. ^ a b "Scotland v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  50. ^ "Batting and bowling averages Australia tour of England, Apr-Sep 1948 – First-class matches". Cricinfo. Retrieved 2008-12-10. 
  51. ^ Bradman, p. 227.
  52. ^ Cashman, pp. 152, 175, 199, 258.
  53. ^ a b c "Cambridge University v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  54. ^ a b c "Essex v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 
  55. ^ a b c "Oxford University v Australians". CricketArchive. Retrieved 2008-12-18. 

References[edit]