Warren Bardsley: 24 interesting facts about the classy Australian southpaw

Warren Bardsley was a former Australian batsman who is widely regarded as one of the greatest left-handed batsmen produced by the oceanic nation.

Warren Bardsley: 24 interesting facts about the classy Australian southpaw
Updated: December 6, 2016 3:52 PM IST | Edited By: Abhishek Kumar


Warren Bardsley, born December 6, 1882, was a former Australian batsman who is widely regarded as one of the greatest left-handed batsmen produced by the oceanic nation. He was probably the best southpaw of his time when it came to playing the straight drive. Being particularly lethal at covers, he was equally adept in cutting the cricket ball. Bardsley was not very aggressive in his approach but knew how to change gears as per the situation. Blessed with a nimble foot movement and a wristy technique, he could execute a variety of shots. On his birth anniversary, Bhaskar Narayan scrutinises 24 interesting facts about the cricketer who passed away six decades ago.

1. Given (first) name after hometown

Warren Bardsley was born in Nevertine, a village in the town of Warren, New South Wales (NSW), Australia. He got his first name from his city of birth— Warren. He received his education at Forest Lodge Superior Public School.

2. Early cricketing brilliance

Bardsley played for Glebe, a western suburb of Sydney, NSW. He showed tremendous potential as a teenager. He was selected in NSW team of 1903-04. However, it took him three years to get into the limelight after scoring a dazzling 108 against the visiting Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) team.

3. Most centuries by a left-handed Australian batsman in First-Class cricket at the time of making this record

Bardsley boasts of a phenomenal First-Class record. Having played 250 matches, he scored 17,025 runs at an average of 49.92. He struck 53 centuries and 73 fifties with a highest score of 264. Only two Australians— Don Bradman and Lindsay Hassett had more domestic hundreds than him for some time. Since, Bradman and Hassett were both right-handers; Bardsley topped the list of highest centuries by a left-handed Australian batsman for some years.

[Note: Today, many Australian left-handed batsmen like Allan Border, Darren Lehmann, Michael Bevan and Justin Langer have more First-Class centuries than Bardsley.]

4. Delayed Test debut

Although Bardsley made his First-Class debut in 1903, it took him six more years to make his presence felt in international cricket. He was 26-years-old when he played his first Test against England at Edgbaston, Birmingham in 1909. He went on to represent Australia in 41 Tests accumulating 2,469 runs at 40.47 with six hundreds and fifteen half centuries.

5. Brilliant domestic seasons

Bardsley scored 2,180 runs at an average of 46.39 in First-Class cricket in 1909. He followed it up with 2,441 runs in 1,912 averaging 51.98. In 1921, he again went past the 2000-run mark with the help of nine centuries.

6. Terrific performance in South Africa's tour of Australia in 1910-12

Bardsley blasted 573 runs with the help of one three digit score and five fifties at a phenomenal average of 63.67 in the five-match Australia vs South Africa 1910-11 series. This was Bardsley's finest accomplishment in a Test series.

7. Leading run-scorer in triangular Test series 1912

In a three-nation Test series involving England and South Africa, Bardsley emerged as the top run-getter with 392 runs averaging 65.33. However, England won the triangular tournament.

8. Lost eight prime years

Bardsley did not feature in a single Test match starting from September 1912 to November 1920. This was largely due to the World War I. When cricket was resumed after the war with Australia taking on England in December 1920, Bardsley was 38 years old and was not in his prime. He managed just one century in the 21 Tests from then on till his final year in 1926.

9. First to hit two hundreds in a Test

In his first series during Australia's tour to England in 1909, he became the first batsman to slam hundreds in both the innings of a Test match. After a string of low scores in the first four Tests, he struck gold at The Oval by blasting 136 and 130 in his fifth Test. This high scoring encounter, in which more than a thousand runs were scored, ended in a draw but Bardsley announced his entry in a remarkable fashion.

10.  Highest opening stand for Australia

In the same 1909 Test, in which he struck two centuries, Bardsley's first-wicket partnership with Syd Gregory fetched Australia 180 runs. This was the highest opening partnership for Australia of that time.

[Note: Today, the highest first-wicket stand for Australia rests with Bill Lawry and Bob Simpson for 382 runs against West indies in Bridgetown, Barbados on 1965. Graeme Smith and Neil McKenzie with their 415-run opening stand against Bangladesh in 2008 are the current world record holders.]

11. Wisden cricketer of the year in 1910

Just a year in international cricket, Bardsley received the highest honour after he was named Wisden cricketer of the year in 1910. In his first Test match of 1910, his 132-run knock off just 150 balls in a timeless Test against South Africa helped Australia register a win by an innings and 114 runs.

12. Highest individual score at Lord's, London

In the second Test of Australia's tour to England 1926, the southpaw carted 193 runs in the first innings. This was the highest score at Lord's during that time.

[Note: Currently, England batsman Graham Gooch holds the record with his 333-run knock against India in 1990.]

13. Oldest Australian batsman to hit a century in Tests

In his third-last Test played against England at Lord's in 1926, Bardsley blasted an unbeaten 193 runs carrying his bat through the first innings. Besides having entered the record books as the highest individual scorer at Lord's, the 43-year-old also became oldest cricketer to hit a century for his nation in Tests. With it, he also became the oldest Australian to crack a century in Test cricket. This was a brilliant way to draw curtains to his distinguished career which ended three Tests later. The three-day second Ashes Test ended in a draw. His 193 also became his highest individual score after a match winning knock of 164 runs against South Africa in 1912.

[Note: Three years hence, Jack Hobbs cracked a Test century in 1929 at the age of 46 years eclipsing Bardsley’s record. In 1934, Patsy Hendren hit a Test century when he was 45-years-old. Both of them were Englishmen. Today, Bardsley is the third oldest cricketer after Hobbs and Hendren to hit a hundred]

14. Oldest Australian skipper

During Australia's tour to England in 1926, the then Australian captain Herbie Collins got sick and Bardsley took over the reins from him. Bardsley captained Australia for the third and fourth Test played at Headingley and Old Trafford respectively, before Collins recovered and captained Australia again in the final Test. Both the Tests that Bardsley had captained ended in a draw.

15. First to carry his bat through an innings in a Test at Lord's

Bardsley became the first batsman to carry his bat through an innings in a Test match at Lord's when he achieved the feat through his 193-run knock in 1926. Wickets kept tumbling at the other end and no other batsman even reached a half century.

16. A classy left-hander

England's legendary batsman Jack Hobbs thought of Bardsley as one of the finest left-handed batsmen of his generation. He felt that Bardsley had a classical technique and it was difficult to pick between him and the other Australian left-handed batting great Clem Hill. Bardsley is counted among legendary Australian southpaws like Clem Hill, Allan Border and Matthew Hayden.

17. Post retirement

After quitting international cricket in 1926, Bardsley continued playing club cricket for around 10 more years. He became Australia's national selector for a short duration.

18. Fitness conscious

Bardsley played Test cricket till the age of 43. However, he continued playing club cricket beyond his golden jubilee. He revealed that the reason behind his energy in his geriatrics was a rigid and unfailing exercise schedule and a healthy diet devoid of alcohol, tobacco and non-vegetarian food.

19. Personal life

Bardsley, 62 married Getrude Cope, his junior by 17 years in 1945. It is said he was so focussed on cricket in his youth, marriage was not really on his mind. He died on January 20, 1954 at the ripe age of 71.

20. Cricket bat displayed at MCC museum

The bat with which Bardsley scored an unbeaten 193 in 1926, is one of the artefacts still in display at MCC museum, Melbourne.

21. Western Suburbs District Club Millennium Member

Bardsley was inducted as a Millennium Member of Western Suburbs District Club (WSDCC), NSW in 2006. The club is more than a century old.

22. Events Trivia

December 6, 1882, the exact date on which Warren Bardsley was born witnessed the second and last transit of the planet Venus (when Venus gets directly between the Sun and a superior planet). This was the final transit of Venus in 19th century. On December 6, 1988, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), an administrative division in NSW was granted self government.

23. Name dissection

A. Meaning: Warren literally means 'enclosure' while Bardsley has been derived from the old English word 'Beornred'. It means 'young warrior counsel'. When the two words are combined a meaning similar to a guardian-like fighter buddy arises. Both the words are names of towns and were originally used as given and family names for people who hailed from these places. Warren, besides being a first name is sometimes also used as a surname.

B.  Famous people with Warren as their Given name: Famous people who had Warren as their first name are business tycoon Warren Buffet, Australian sports commentator Ray Warren and the first de facto Governor General of India (during British rule) Warren Hastings. Interestingly, Warren Hastings, Bardsley’s senior by 150 years was also born on December 6.

C.  Celebrities with Warren as surname: One of the celebrities who has Warren as her family name is American television and movie actress Lesley Ann Warren. She was nominated for academy awards in the category of best actress in a supporting role for Victor Victoria, 1982. Lesley missed out on the Oscar but won the golden globe for the movie. She is best known for her role as Susan Mayer's mother in the American comedy-cum-drama mystery programme— 'Desperate Housewives'. Besides her, John Robin Warren is an Australian pathologist who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 2005 for his discovery of the bacteria that causes ulcers. Further, American author Robert Penn Warren won the Pulitzer Prize twice— for fiction (Novel- All the King's men in 1946) and again in 1958 for poetry. He is the only writer to have received the Pulitzer Prize for both fiction and poetry.

D.  Sportspersons with Bardsley as their family name: Talking of surname, Kristian Bardsley was a former Australian Rules football player. Robert Wardsley was a former English cricketer. Karen Bardsley is an English woman footballer of American descent. Scottish footballer Phil also has Bardsley as his last name.

24. Birthday Trivia

Bardsley shares his birthday with cricketers Ravindra Jadeja and Andrew Flintoff. Zimbabwe all-rounder Sean Ervine is exactly 100 years junior to Bardsley. German author Max Muller credited with 'What India can teach us' was also born on December 6. Fourth finisher of 2012 season of ‘The X Factor’, Wesley Stomberg was born on December 6, 1993. He is a member of American reggae (a music genre which originated in Jamaica, West Indies around 50 years ago) pop band Emblem3.

(Bhaskar Narayan is a reporter at CricketCountry and Criclife. He passionately follows the game and is a big fan of Sachin Tendulkar. His Twitter handle is @Cricopathy)