Sheffield Shield Team Visit

Sheffield Shield Team Visit2018-07-21T02:38:10+00:00

A highlight of the 1955-56 season was a visit to Maitland of the NSW Sheffield team. which played a mid-week match at the Sportsground on October 25 and 26 1955 while on its way to Queensland.

The Shield team was captained by the brilliant all-rounder Keith Miller and included Bob Simpson, Jim Burke, Brian Booth, Jim De Courcy, Willy Watson, Ossie Lambert, Alan Davidson. Richie Benaud, Peter Philpott, Pat Crawford and John Treanor.

Col Johnston captained the Hunter Valley team which included Ray Allen, D Rutherford. E Cochrane, J Hayward (Hunter River); D Murrell (Cessnock); D Carter(Muswellbrook); F de Carvalho, M Cooper (Gosford); A Pankhurst, Raymond J French (Denman); R Hobden (Singleton).

NSW won the match by 6 wickets, scoring 189 and 4 for 44, in reply to Hunter Valley's 99 and 130. Best of the local batsmen were F de Carvalho with 34 in the first innings, and Dave Rutherford 30 not out in the second. Dave Rutherford, Earl Cochrane and Arch Pankhurst each took three wickets in the first innings of NSW. Top scorers for NSW were Brian Booth 47 and Richie Benaud 41 in the first innings.

The season proved to be a difficult one for the local Association. Many grounds were still suffering from the effects of the 1955 flood and could not be used until later in the season. To add to these problems, the pattern of wet weather persisted with rain in the latter part of the season affecting matches on nine consecutive Saturdays. Some teams became so disgusted that they withdrew from the competition, and a number of forfeits were caused by minor flooding in outlying areas.

Many former players were also unavailable while reclaiming flood damaged farms. In the first grade, two entries (Singleton and Singleton Colts) were accepted from Singleton where the flood had devastated turf wickets. Branxton was replaced by Greta which absorbed the Branxton area and was raised to district status. Central, which was most affected by the movement of population to higher residential areas, was temporarily helped by the infusion of some Dungog players, including Ken Shelton, Pat Wills, Alan Wylie and Greg Wade.

Northern District created a record by winning its fourth consecutive first-grade premiership. Raymond Terrace, which had re-entered the district competition, won second grade, while Western Suburbs won the third grade for the third year in succession. Eastern Suburbs, which was equal runner-up with Western Suburbs in first grade, won its first club championship. Col Johnston headed the district first grade batting aggregate and averages for the third year in a row, scoring 573 runs at 47.7.

Richard Gilmour of Western Suburbs, "the cricketing find of the season", headed the district first-grade bowling averages with 41 wickets and 7.69. Arch Pankhurst of Singleton Colts headed the bowling aggregate with 49 wickets.

In representative cricket Hunter River had a double success, winning both the John Bull Shield and the Coal Board Cup. This was its first win in the John Bull Shield competition which had started way back in 1923. In the Coal Board Cup competition, it defeated Gunnedah in the knockout final and then withstood a challenge from Singleton, the previous holders.

Following a series of inter-Council and Combined Council matches, Dave Rutherford was selected to play for Combined Country against Metropolitan. The Combined Country team was captained by Don Brooker, a former Hunter River player with Eastern Suburbs.

John Hayward and Dave Rutherford were selected from the JS White Carnival at Tamworth to play in the Emu Colts team in two 'Tests" - one at Tamworth and the other at Maitland _ against the touring NZ Colts team for the Boomerang Cup Trophy.

Richard Gilmour was chosen for the Country Boys Coaching Class. In recognition of Reuben Dransfield's contribution to the Association, a smoke social was held at the end of the season to make a testimonial presentation. Reuben had given a long period of service to the Association, the Hunter Valley Cricket Council, the Umpires Association and Robins Club, and was a Life Member of all four organizations.

In addition, he had been involved with other sports of baseball, tennis, soccer and rugby union. It was fitting that, in response to a recommendation from the Cricket Association, a new grandstand at the Sportsground was named in his honour.

After six seasons as Secretary of the HRDCA. Arthur Lord retired and was succeeded by John Hayward.