Ashes 1937 and World War II were unified by the destiny of three cricketers, Ross Gregory, Ken Farnes & Hedley Verity.
One of the greatest Ashes series was played during 1936-37 in Australia. This was England’s first tour to Australia after the infamous Bodyline series. Although Bradman was there, two other main protagonists Douglas Jardine and Harold Larwood already retired by then. England’s captain was Gubby Allen. Those days such tours used to go on for months with lots of rest and other matches against state teams. The first match of the series started on December 4, 1936, whereas the fifth and final test started on February 26, 1937.
Ashes 1936/37- A Recap
England took an early lead in the series. They won both the first and second tests played at Brisbane and Sydney respectively. Without Larwood, Allen and Bill Voce troubled the Australian batsmen and Wally Hammond’s innings of 231 was instrumental in England’s innings victory in Sydney.
Australia tried to make a comeback after being 0-2 down. The third test in Melbourne was played in a dangerous ‘Sticky’ wicket which saw all types of unique strategies. Australia first declared at 200 for 9 then England declared at 76 for 9 so that they could utilize the sticky wicket. Bradman sent a reverse batting order; he came at 7, scored 270 and won the match easily for Australia. Bradman scored another double in the next test to level the series.
The Final Show In Melbourne
And then the final test of the Ashes began in Melbourne. Bradman won the toss for Australia and decided to bat. He scored another century and added 249 runs in the third wicket with Stan McCabe who himself scored 112.
On February 27, day 2 Bradman went early but Jack Badcock and Ross Gregory built another good partnership. Badcock got his hundred. Gregory, playing just his second test, was approaching his maiden test hundred. But England bowler Ken Farnes stopped him when he was on 80 and the catch was taken by Hedley Verity, a dismissal which would have a dark significance in years to come.
But let us focus on the match. Australia finally completed their innings and scored 604. Farnes took 6 wickets. England did not do well in front of a William O’Reilly master class. O’Reilly picked up 8 for 109 in the match and England after following on lost the test match by innings and 200 runs. This was a wonderful turn around for Australia and still, the only instance of a team winning a series after 0-2 behind. England’s next Ashes series win came after more than 17 years.
Ross Gregory, Ken Farnes & Hedley Verity- Destined To Be Together Once Again
It was Ross Gregory’s last test match. World War II broke out in the next few years and like many others, even some of the active cricketers from England and Australia had to register themselves for the war. The war took many lives that included some of the cricketers. Three of them were Pilot Officers.
Ken Farnes, died in an accident while flying over Chipping-Warden, Oxfordshire on October 20, 1941, Sergeant-Observer Ross Gregory was killed on active service in India on June 10, 1942, and Captain Hedley Verity on July 31, 1943, when he succumbed to wounds from a battle in Sicily.
This way, all the three parties involved in Ross Gregory’s final dismissal were the martyrs of World War II. And this happened on this day, 82 years back.
Also Read: On This Day – 26th Feb