OK, long time between drinks. I have, however, not been completely idle. I decided a while ago to stop writing the shorter profile pieces and instead sink my teeth into something a bit longer. The Gregory family and their contribution to the development of cricket in Australia is the focus of my current cricketing obsession. What follows is the introduction, and I'll also post up chapter one. I am currently around 80,000 words into the project (around 2/3 s finished) - if people enjoy it, I'll keep posting it up.
In March 1877, a combined team of cricketers from New South Wales and Victoria took the field against a side of touring Englishmen. Whilst the historical significance of this game was not evident at the time, it is now universally recognised as the first ever Test cricket match. The man elected by his team-mates to lead this united Australian team was David Gregory.
Cricket chronicles many famous families from which multiple members have been chosen to represent their country. In recent years, Australia has produced the Waugh, Lee and Chappell brothers, but the past has also included other famous families such as the Benauds, Harveys, Archers and Bannermans. Possibly Australia’s most famous clan, however, is the Gregorys, whose role in Australian cricket dates back to the start of the game in Sydney. The Gregory family and the development of cricket in the colony of Australia grew hand in hand. Throughout the formative years of first-class and Test cricket, many members of the family played an integral role in assisting Australia to start competing at an international level.
It is indicative of the hold that Sir Donald Bradman has cast over the public in Australia that there are so many biographies of his life, while there remain only limited works dedicated to other highly accomplished cricketers. Three generations of the Gregory family provided four Test representatives, including two captains and Australia’s inaugural Test leader. The contribution of this one family is even more remarkable as there were also another four cricketers who were selected for their state and three representatives in the NSW Women’s team.
It is perhaps symbolic that the final Test match by a member of the Gregory family in 1928 was the also the first by Bradman. The rise of Bradman coincided with the end of the Gregory era, and his feats overshadowed more than one or two other great and worthwhile performers. As an example of this, Charles MacCartney, Australia’s leading batsman in the years between Victor Trumper’s final Test and the emergence of Donald Bradman, had to wait until 2004 until a biography of his life was published. It is important today to recognise that without the pioneering efforts of Gregory family, the development of cricket in Australia would not have progressed as rapidly as it did during its early years, and their contribution has for a long time been underestimated.