1985 Centenary Ball Strathfield Mayor Rod Rimes & Alan Davidson and their wives

Alan Davidson

By Cathy Jones 2021

Alan Davidson AM MBE, the Australian cricketer and long-term Strathfield resident, died at age 92 years on 30 October 2021.

Alan is considered one of Australia’s greatest Test Cricketers.  He was an all-rounder; a left-arm fast bowler who could bowl at speeds up to 150km/h, successful lower middle-order batsman who scored nine first-class centuries, and an outstanding fieldsman, whose nickname ‘Claw’ reflected his catching ability[1].  He made his cricket Test debut in 1953 and played in 44 Tests taking 186 wickets at an average of 20.52, scoring 1328 at 24.5 runs and 42 catches until his retirement in 1963[2][3].  He was the first male cricketer to score 100 runs and take ten wickets in the same Test match, against the West Indies at Brisbane in December 1960, which he played with a broken finger[4]. He also was known for playing Sydney Grade Cricket scoring 4,302 runs and taking 348 wickets. His records have rarely been bettered by later players.

Alan was born in Lisarow on the NSW Central Coast in 1929, the son of Leslie Davidson and his wife Hilda (nee Clifton)[5].  He accepted a work transfer in 1948 to work at the Strathfield branch of the Commonwealth Bank, where he met and married Strathfield local Betty McKinley. His and Betty’s engagement was announced in 1951 and they married in 1952[6]. He continued to work for the Commonwealth Bank until 1974.[7]  The couple settled in Strathfield in the 1950s, where he remained a resident until his recent death.

Following his retirement from Test Cricket in 1963, Alan maintained his involvement with cricket for the rest of his life.  He served as an administrator and selector for many decades, as well as acting as patron, influencer and mentor of many generations of younger amateur and professional players.  In his 33 years as president of Cricket NSW (1970-2003), he fostered cricket throughout the state including remote Aboriginal communities. The Alan Davidson Shield, a NSW high school cricket state-wide competition was established in 1973 and is one of the largest competitions of its kind[8] [9].

After his successful cricketing career Alan served in various capacities in cricket and community associations.  He served as a selector for the Australian Cricket team from 1979 to 1984[10].  In 1970 Alan became president of the New South Wales Cricket Association until 2003. He was one of the trustees of the Sydney Cricket Ground CG from 1978 to 1998.

Alan held positions on the board of directors of a variety of organisations, sporting, medical, philanthropic and corporate. This included being President of Surf Life Saving Australia from 1984 to 2002 and Vice-President of the NSW Churches Cricket Union for 35 years[11]. Alan also served in various capacities on the New South Wales Sport Advisory Council and was the director of the ANZAC Health and Research Foundation. He held roles with the Australian Red Cross, Legacy Australia and the Commonwealth Bank and the New South Wales Olympic Council

Alan Davidson participated in many Strathfield community activities over his long period of residency.  The street Davidson Street in Greenacre was named for him in the 1960s along with Marlene Crescent (named for athlete Marlene Matthews) and Hopman Crescent (named for tennis player and coach Harry Hopman), who had lived in the local area. In 2004, Strathfield Council renamed Airey Oval in Homebush, Strathfield’s pre-eminent cricket ground, ‘Davidson Oval’, in tribute to Alan Davidson[12].

Alan was named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1962[13].  He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1964 and a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1987[14]. He was inducted into the Sports Australia Hall of Fame in 1988, the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2004, and the ICC Hall of Fame in 2011[15]. He received an Australian Sports Medal in 2000.

Sir Donald Bradman wrote in Davidson’s autobiography Fifteen Paces (1965) ‘Great Players are either performers or entertainers.  Davidson was both’ and said Davidson ‘played the game with integrity’[16].

Following his death, the flag on the Members Pavilion at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where Davidson served as a trustee for 20 years, was lowered to half-mast in tribute[17]. His funeral was held at St Anne’s Anglican Church Strathfield[18].   Among the mourners were former Prime Minister John Howard, Neil Harvey, the last remaining Invincible from Don Bradman’s 1948 tour, Ian Chappell, Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Michael Clarke, Brian Booth, Brian Taber, Greg Matthews, Dave Gilbert, Alan Turner, Michael Bevan and Phil Emery[19].  Chappell, Taylor and Waugh acted as pallbearers at the service.

Alan Davidson is survived by his widow, Betty and their son Neil.  Another son, Ian, predeceased him.

References

[1] Meher-Homji, Kersi (2001 1 November), Alan Davidson: Australian cricketer symbolised all-round excellence, Sydney Morning Herald

[2] Meher-Homji, Kersi (2001 1 November), Alan Davidson: Australian cricketer symbolised all-round excellence, Sydney Morning Herald

[3] Craddock, R (2021 Oct 30), Australian cricket in mourning after the deaths of Ashley Mallett and Alan Davidson, Daily Telegraph

[4] Alan Davidson Obituary (2021 November 1), The Times UK.

[5] Alan Davidson Obituary (2021), The Times UK.

[6] Sydney Morning Herald (October 15 1951)

[7] Alan Davidson Obituary (2021), The Times UK

[8] https://app.education.nsw.gov.au/sport/NSWCHSSA/HANDBOOK-SECTION-4_6

[9] Alan Davidson Obituary (2021), The Times UK.

[10] https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/australian-hall-fame-all-rounder-davidson-dies-aged-92-2021-10-30/

[11] https://www.cricketnsw.com.au/news/vale-alan-davidson-am-mbe/2021-10-30

[12] Jones, C (2008), Airey Park, https://strathfieldheritage.com/parks-and-reserves/airey-park/

[13] https://www.cricketnsw.com.au/news/alan-davidson-australia-nsw-blues-first-class-test-richie-benaud-western-suburbs/2019-06-14

[14] https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-30/australian-cricket-great-alan-davidson-dies/100582940

[15] https://www.cricketnsw.com.au/news/vale-alan-davidson-am-mbe/2021-10-30

[16] Craddock, R (2021 Oct 30), ‘Australian cricket in mourning after the deaths of Ashley Mallett and Alan Davidson’, Daily Telegraph

[17] https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/australian-hall-fame-all-rounder-davidson-dies-aged-92-2021-10-30/

[18] https://www.smh.com.au/sport/cricket/davo-remembered-for-carrying-the-joy-and-wonder-of-cricket-across-generations-20211108-p59700.html

[19] Conn, Malcolm (2021 November 8)  ‘Davo’ remembered for carrying the joy and wonder of cricket across generations’, Sydney Morning Herald

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