(from left) Ian Meckiff, Lindsay Kline, Wes Hall and Joe Solomon: Men immortalised by the last ball of the first tied Test
Wes Hall (left) and Lindsay Kline: Men immortalised by the last ball of the first tied Test © Getty Images

A left-arm wrist spinner of merit, Lindsay Kline is strangely remembered for his two feats with the bat — an instrument that did not really fit snugly in his hands. Arunabha Sengupta relates how as a young man Kline curiously imbibed the value of honesty.

It remains a rather curious quirk of fate that an excellent bowler of that rare and splendid art of chinaman is remembered most for an act with the bat. Not only was he never quite more than a genuine rabbit with the willow, even that particular famed brandish of the bat did not get him a run. Indeed, it resulted in the most famous run-out in history  as Joe Solomon threw down the stumps of Ian Meckiff.

But, then that is how history pans out from time to time, and such is the tale of Lindsay Kline. He was a spinner of class and ability, whose nine overseas Tests got him 31 wickets at 15.35. The tragedy was that his four home Tests brought him just three at 100.00 apiece, and the Australian selectors did not find enough reasons to persist with him.

Kline faded into the pages of history with one last act of heroism, once again surprisingly with the bat, holding one end up for 109 minutes, batting alongside Ken Mackay, against the bowling of Wes Hall, Alf Valentine, Garry Sobers, Lance Gibbs and Frank Worrell, denying the men from Caribbean their hurrah of victory.  For a man who ended with a First-Class average of 8.60 it was quite some achievement to be remembered for two immortal feats with the bat.

Not as many remember his hat-trick against the South Africans at Cape Town in 1958-59. Not too many  are aware of the impressiveness of his final career figures — 34 wickets at 22.62.

His career was perhaps not exactly spectacular, and neither was Kline himself. Playing during an era when one had to make one’s living through a day job, he was a quiet, unassuming, modest man working at the Myer Emporium. He sold sports goods, and looked at the wall clock with increasing frequency as the hours went by, itching to get to the nets and send down his left-arm wrist spin.

His rise in cricket had been delayed. He had spent a year in national service at Pickapunyal in  1953 and that made him eager to make up for lost time.

And thereby he imbibed, according to his own tongue-in-cheek confession, the virtues of truthfulness.

As a young man of 23 during the 1957-58 summer, Kline tried plenty of ways to get away from work to his cricket.

He started with the traditional age-old excuse, telling his superiors at the Myer Emporium that his grandmother had passed away. His application was refused.

He changed tack, making his reasons more urgent. His mother was put on the altar this time, with Kline stating that the lady was seriously ill and he desperately needed to be by her side. The application was rejected yet again.

By now Kline was at a loss for ideas. Hence, he tried the direct approach. He confronted his superiors and stated that he needed time off to play cricket.

His application was accepted and leave was granted. The superiors remained understanding through his career.

Sometimes it does pay to be honest.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)