Colin McCool bigraphy, stories - Australian cricketer

Colin McCool : biography

09 December 1916 - 05 April 1986

Colin Leslie McCool (9 December 1916 – 5 April 1986) was an Australian cricketer who played in 14 Tests from 1946 to 1950. McCool, born in Paddington, New South Wales, was an all-rounder who bowled leg spin and googlies with a round arm action and as a lower order batsman was regarded as effective square of the wicket and against spin bowling. He made his Test début against New Zealand in 1946, taking a wicket with his second delivery. He was part of Donald Bradman's Invincibles team that toured England in 1948 but injury saw him miss selection in any of the Test matches.

A good tour of South Africa in 1949–50 was followed by a lack of opportunity in the next two seasons, leading McCool to sign a contract to play professional cricket in the Lancashire League in 1953. Three years later, Somerset County Cricket Club recruited McCool where he was a success, especially as a middle-order batsman; he played five seasons and saw the club achieve its highest place in the County Championship since 1892. He retired from cricket in 1960 and returned to Australia to work as a market gardener. He died in Concord, New South Wales on 5 April 1986.

English cricket

Prior to the 1953 Australian team to tour England, McCool signed a professional contract with Lancashire League team East Lancashire, replacing fellow Australian leg spinner Bruce Dooland. In his first season in the league, he was the leading wicket-taker with 93 wickets at the low average of 10.2 runs per wicket, and he also made 678 runs at an average of 33.9. The following year, he played less often: his 547 runs came at the better average of 42.1 but his 52 wickets cost 13.1 apiece, and East Lancashire, who had finished either first or second in the Championship ten times in the previous twelve seasons, finished 10th out of 14. He did not return to East Lancashire for the 1955 season due to being contracted to play county cricket for Somerset. The cricket writer Alan Gibson, who knew McCool well, wrote that "after he had made the decision to come, an extension of the qualifying period for overseas cricketers kept him waiting even longer".The change to the rules was made by the Advisory County Cricket Committee at a meeting on 9 March 1954.

Delayed by the change to the rules, McCool had a five-year stint from 1956 in English county cricket. Somerset, having finished on the bottom of the County Championship table for the four years between 1952–1955, had embarked on a renewal programme. Part of the programme involved a vigorous recruiting campaign, including an offer to McCool that saw him return to first-class cricket at the age of 39.

At Somerset, McCool was an instant success as a batsman, scoring 1,967 runs in his first season, including three centuries and a highest score of 141. After four seasons, Somerset came off the bottom of the County Championship (to 15th out of 17), and Wisden was in no doubt of McCool's influence: "Much of the credit for the all-round improvement went to one man – McCool," it wrote. "At the start of the season it was hoped that the former Australian Test leg-break bowler would lend power and variety to the attack. From that viewpoint his 45 wickets at over thirty runs apiece might be counted disappointing. But with the bat McCool exceeded all expectations. He was one of the most consistent scorers in the country and he failed by only 34 to reach 2,000 runs in his first season of county cricket. McCool was the backbone of a mediocre batting side, and he never departed from his natural attacking style."Contemporary stats put the number of runs scored by McCool in 1956 at 1,966. Against the touring Australians that season he made 90 and 116, the first innings 90 coming out of 139 in two-and-a-half hours and including 15 fours, the second innings century out of 167 in just 95 minutes, with four sixes and 14 fours. Wisden reported that he was "very severe on Ian Johnson] and Jack Wilson]".

Over the 1956/57 new year, McCool was one of a party of 12 cricketers, all but one of them Test players, who made a brief trip to India to play two first-class matches in celebration of the silver jubilee of the Bengal Cricket Association in a side raised by the Lancashire secretary Geoffrey Howard. McCool did not play in the first match and in the second, he replaced Jock Livingston, the team's only wicketkeeper, who had been taken ill during the first game. McCool made only 23 and 1 with the bat, but he stumped Vinoo Mankad off the bowling of Dooland, one of only two stumpings in his career as a very occasional wicketkeeper.

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Living octopus

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