AUSTRALIAN cricket is mourning the loss of former Test opener Colin McDonald, who was known for his fearless style and later in life played a key role in the development of the National Tennis Centre in Melbourne.
McDonald, 92, passed away in Melbourne, having played 47 Tests between 1951-52 and 1961, scoring 3107 runs at 39.32, including five centuries.
His best series were against England in 1958-59 when he posted 519 runs at 64.87, and against the West Indies in 1960-61 with 337 runs at 33.7, which featured the tied Test.
The Scotch College product was known for his toughness when facing fast bowling, and wore many hits – and bruises – to the body from the likes of Wes Hall, Neil Adcock, Frank “Typhoon” Tyson, Fred Trueman and Brian Statham in an era of unprotected pitches when batsmen wore little protective gear.
He played in two premierships with Melbourne Cricket Club – in 1948-49 and 1958-59 – and captained Victoria for five seasons.
In an interview with Scotch College’s in-house magazine, having published his memoirs, CC – the Colin McDonald Story, McDonald was asked about his most memorable Tests.
“In the fourth Test against England in 1958-59 at Adelaide I made my highest score, 170. In the second Test against England in 1956 Jim Burke and I had an opening stand of 137, of which I made 78,” he said.
“Making 91 in front of 90,800 people at the MCG in the fifth Test against the West Indies in 1961 is also fondly recalled. Of course, the famous tied Test with the West Indies in 1960-61 will always be remembered.”
McDonald’s knocks of 32 and 89 at Old Trafford in 1956 in Jim Laker’s famous 19-wicket match haul were also career highlights.
His fondness for Richie Benaud was also obvious. They made their Test debut together against the West Indies at the SCG in 1952, with Benaud later going to captain the side.
“He was enthusiastic – he knew the game backwards. All the players loved him. Of course, he was a fine all-rounder. He was a very good cricketer who made all his own luck,” McDonald said.
McDonald spent time as a schoolteacher, an ABC cricket commentator and later was the executive director of Tennis Australia, where he was an important figure in the Australian Open shifting from the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club to a modern home at Flinders Park in 1988.
CA chairman Earl Eddings said McDonald “will forever be remembered as a legend of Victorian and Australian cricket”.
“He was fearless against the fast bowlers and skilful when playing the spinners both in Australia and across tours of England, the Caribbean, South Africa, India and Pakistan,” he said.
“Australian cricket is a better place for Colin’s many years of outstanding service at international and state level, as well as his club career with Melbourne University, Melbourne Cricket Club and Brighton. Our sincere condolences and best wishes go out to Colin’s family.”