Ray Lindwall Biography
Ray Lindwall was cricketing beauty captured in its aesthetic essence and purity.
He did not run up to the wicket — he flowed like a sonnet set in motion. He approached like a graceful yet vigorous wave. At the end erupted a sudden burst of speed and the pistoning of the arm, and as his legs spread in the long stretch of the final stride, the ball was propelled at an incredible speed and the arm came through at 45 degrees. Not all the adherents of classical fast bowling were enamoured of his arm coming down too low. Yet, that ensured a skidding effect, and made his bumpers all the more threatening.
Jim Laker thought of heaven as a cricket pitch from one end of which ran in Lindwall, and from the other Bishan Singh Bedi. Plum Warner once loudly exclaimed “Poetry!” when Lindwall ran in to bowl.
Yet, for all the rhythm that his motion conjured up, he was one of the fastest in the world — ever. Celebrated opening pairs like Len Hutton and Cyril Washbrook weaved and ducked when he bounced — he did it sparingly but always with immense effect. They also hurriedly brought their bats down when he pitched up. Not always did they manage to meet the ball. In fact, almost 40 per cent of the 228 wickets Lindwall captured were bowled.
Drafted in the Second World War and sent to the South Pacific, Lindwall suffered horribly from tropical diseases. But he did spend his time marking out his run-up between palm trees. A phenomenal all-round sportsman, he could easily have been a rugby league international, and ran 100 yards in 10.6 seconds. However, luckily he was smitten by cricket and then soon made the cricket world fall in love with him. It was during the series against England that he and Keith Miller settled as the demolishing spearheads of Australia’s attack.
Lindwall was quick to underline his merits with the bat as well, getting a Test century at the MCG in the New Year Test of 1947, batting at No. 9, notching up the second-fastest hundred scored by an Australian till then. He followed this with seven for 63 at Sydney, bettered that with seven for 38 against the hapless Indians at Adelaide, and by the time he travelled to England in 1948, he was an established star and potent weapon of The Invincibles. It went on to be a success story for over a decade of flying stumps.
Lindwall was the first genuine fast bowler to capture more than 200 wickets in Test cricket. His 61 Tests brought him 1,502 runs at 21.15 with two centuries and 228 wickets at 23.03, a Test double in the days when it meant something.
After having run in to bowl for the final time in measured steps of delight, he continued to make his living in acts steeped in beauty, running a flower shop with his wife in Brisbane.