famous incident in the history of Maitland cricket occurred during the 1928-29 season when Don Bradman was dismissed for a duck in a match at the Showground on April 1 1929.
Bradman at the time was a member of a NSWCA team that was on a country tour involving fixtures at Tamworth, Singleton, Maitland and Newcastle. The team was captained by Alan Kippax and included three other Australian Test players – Don Bradman, Archie Jackson and Alan Fairfax – as well as interstate players N Morris and C Nicholls.
The Hunter River DCA side was captained by Wilfred Jarrett and included F Cummins, G Bell, R Macmillan, A Sessions, R (Roy) Allen, V Cleary, P Cahill, H Hatcher, S Schofield, C Andrews and L McPherson (12th).
The locals batted first and declared at 7 for 209 with Charlie Andrews giving a “delightful exhibition” of batting in scoring 79. The crowd, estimated at about 4000, eagerly looked forward to the prospect of seeing Bradman, the cricket prodigy, in action. At this stage Bradman was the “talk of the cricket world” and had just participated in the 1928-29 Australian home Test series against England. However, to put it mildly, there was “keen disappointment” when Bradman was given out leg before to Gordon Bell for a duck in the first over.
In his book Ihe Story ofMy Cricketing Life Bradman later referred to the incident: “At Maitland I was given out LBW for 0 to a ball which I’m sure would have missed the leg stump by a foot. But obeying the umpire without showing dissent was part of my training. (It was later in life that I read the probably apocryphal story of Dr WG Grace who, in similar circumstances, is alleged to have said to the umpire ‘listen my man, the people came here to see me bat, not to watch you umpire’). ”
The umpire, Peter Bailey, when chided later by some spectators for giving Bradman out LBW, is reported to have said, “If he was Jesus Christ himself, I’d still have given him out!”
The NSWCA team ended up scoring 245 with Kippax making 95 and Jackson 70. The match was a financial success for the local Association with a net profit of €97.
At the end of 1928 Charlie Andrews of the Robins Club was selected to play for NSW against Don Bradman – dismissed fora Queensland in a Sheffield ‘duck’ in Maitland. Shield match. An impressive 146 for Country No 1 against City and a bright innings of 121 for a NSW Second Eleven against a Victorian team appear to have clinched his selection. Towards the end of the season he moved to Mosman. He was to play for NSW in the 1929-30 and 193()-31 seasons and later in his career played for Queensland, scoring 253 against his former State during the 1934-35 season in a Sheffield Shield record seventh wicket partnership of 335 with AC Bensted – a record that still stands.
Frank Cummins and Roy Oakes were selected to play for Newcastle and the Hunter District in a match at Newcastle on December 21 and 22 1928 against APF Chapman’s MCC team. The home team had the distinction of having a clear first innings lead on the tourists by scoring 9 for 350 to the MCC’s 281, in which Harold Larwood, usually better known for his bowling, made 93.
The Northern District team at Country Week which included F Cummins, C Andrews, A Sessions, R Macmillan, JJ McEnearney, H Hatcher and R(Roy) Allen, won the Iredale Shield for the second time thereby making it the only country district team to have won the trophy twice. During the Carnival Cummins and Andrews scored centuries and Ross Macmillan took 15 wickets.
During the season the Association had an official visit from Mr H Heydon, the NSW CA Secretary. Following his inspection and report on the local turf wickets, the Association received a grant of €50 from the NSWCA towards their improvement. The grant was distributed among the clubs with turf wickets – Robins, Northern Division and Marist Bros. and the Association which had again been granted use of the Showground wicket.
The local competition suffered at the start from the “carry-over” effects of the previous season’s dispute between the Association and Northern Division Club. The latter did not at first enter the competition but was admitted at the end of October, after two matches had already been played. However, following protests from clubs that had to play against them in A and B grade, the decision was reversed at a Special Meeting. It was not until mid-November after another Special Meeting that the two Northern Division teams were re-admitted, but both were placed in A grade. With the re-entry of Kurri Kurri and East Maitland, an additional team from Robins Club (Robins No 2) and the dropping out of Morpeth, this made up an 8 team competition in A grade. However, considerable disruption had already been caused, with the draw being altered a number of times.
Branxton eventually won the A grade premiership but was defeated by Northern Division in the Waller Shield final that went for five Saturdays and was still being played on May 25.
In “one of the most brilliant batting displays seen in Maitland for many years” Aub Sessions scored 240 for
Robins in a total of 4 for 431 against Marist Bros. in an A grade match on the Showground on January 12 19’29.
To assist the Secretary Jim O’Hearn, in his administrative duties, the Association bought a typewriter and “empowered him to get a telephone connection made to his residence”.
At the Annual Meeting it was reported that the “stormy period which the Association experienced last season was successfully negotiated to the satisfaction of the parties concerned”.