A record of cricketing achievement

From left: J.C. Sharp and R.W. Herring,1915 (Archives image no. 000992)

As a School, we can celebrate many remarkable performances across our cricketing history. In fact, Melbourne Grammar has won or shared the APS cricket premiership 37 times since the competition commenced in 1891. Here, we look back on a few more of the milestones our cricketers have achieved. 

A record-breaking partnership

James Sharp (OM 1916) and Robert Herring (OM 1917), pictured in image number 1, set the School’s most extraordinary record in 1915. Not only did they make a 345-run partnership, but between them scored 743 of the team’s 961 runs against The Geelong College. This stood for decades as an unbroken world record for a school team. James Sharp’s unbeaten 506 runs included 5 sixes and 77 fours. Robert Herring’s 238 runs was his second double century of the season. 

Nearly 90 years after this remarkable feat, our group for parents of School cricketers was aptly named ‘The 961 Club’.

Test cricket successes

Four Old Melburnians have been selected for an Australian Test team. Jack Barrett (OM 1876) played in two Test matches in England in 1890. He was the first to bat right through a Test match innings (2nd innings, Lords Test 1890).

(Edward) Ted a’Beckett (OM 1926), pictured in image number 2, – a star of the School’s cricket teams that won the premierships in 1925 and 1926 – captained the cricket and football teams in both those years. He took 26 wickets during the 1925 season, and in 1926 made a century and took 35 wickets. 

A’Beckett took a wicket with his first ball when he made his debut for Victoria in the 1927/28 season. He went on to play 47 matches for Victoria and four tests for Australia (1928–32) before retiring from first class cricket to work as a solicitor.

Colin Guest (OM 1955) also represented Australia, playing in the third match of the 1962-63 Ashes series. He was a regular in the Victorian Sheffield Shield team (and later one season with Western Australia) over a seven-year period. A very sharp fast bowler, he took 115 first-class wickets, at a remarkable economy rate of 2.82 runs per over, and averaged 19.2 with the bat.

Known as a strong allrounder, Louise Broadfoot (OM 1995) played two matches for Australia in 2001. She also represented the nation in 10 one day international matches during 2000 – 2005 and was a member of the IWCC Women’s Cricket World Cup championship team in 2005. Her cricketing prowess was evident early, being awarded Cricket Colours at Grimwade House in 1989.

Our first class players 

At least 56 Old Melburnians have played first class cricket for Victoria, interstate teams, Oxford University, or English county clubs. These include:

  • Robert Herring (mentioned above) was a member of the First XI for five years (1913–17). He played in the three premiership teams of 1913 to 1915, captained the 1915 side, and later played for Victoria. 
  • Edward a’Beckett (OM 1958), son of (Edward) Ted a’Beckett, played in the First XI for three years, including the premiership year of 1957. He captained the team in 1958 and was chosen for the Victorian team in 1966.
  • Two members of the premiership team of 1920 played for Victoria: Herbert Guthrie (OM 1920) and Harold Austin (OM 1922). Austin also contributed to the First XI premiership teams of 1921 and 1922. 
  • Leslie Rainey (OM 1898) was chosen in the First XI for three years, including two premiership years (1896, which he captained, and 1897), and later represented Victoria. 
  • Vallancey Brown (OM 1930) played for Victoria. While at school he had been selected for the First XI that won premierships in 1929 and 1930.
  • Harcourt Dowsley (OM 1937) was chosen for three years in the First XI and captained the 1937 premiership team. In the APS season of 1936, his highest score was 170 and he averaged 61 with the bat – the best in the competition. He represented Victoria from 1937 to 1947. 
  • Val Holten (OM 1945) played in the First XI for two years, including the premiership team of 1944, and represented Victoria during the early 1950s.

Sesquicentenary success 

In Melbourne Grammar’s sesquicentennial year, 2008, the cricket team, pictured in image number 2, delivered a perfect gift: an undefeated season achieving the first APS cricket premiership since 1976. 

Melbourne Grammar scored 355 runs in the final match against Haileybury College. 

James Bett (OM 2009) took 44 wickets for the season, including 8/37 against Scotch College. The 2008 Captain of School and Captain of Cricket, Charles Shaw (OM 2008), scored two centuries in 2008, following on from two in 2007. Louis Cameron (OM 2009), a member of the 2008 team, later played cricket for Victoria. Another member, Alex Keath (OM 2010) also played for Victoria from 2010 to 2015. 

The Tri-Grammar Shield

Melbourne Grammar also won the Tri-Grammar Shield in the sesquicentennial year. This competition between Brisbane Grammar, Melbourne Grammar and Sydney Grammar commenced in 1998. Since its inception, Melbourne Grammar has won on eleven occasions, with Brisbane Grammar and Sydney Grammar both winning six times.

Sydney Grammar and Melbourne Grammar began playing an annual match in 1876, predating the Ashes by more than five years. The first match was held at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The teams now contend for the trophy ‘The Bat’, created in 1976. Cricket matches have been held between these two rivals almost every year and continue to form part of the Tri‑Grammar Cricket Festival. Of the 126 times Melbourne Grammar has played Sydney in these interstate tournaments, they have won 63 times. Sydney Grammar has won 58 times, with four draws and one tie. (No games were held during 1880-82, 1884, 1915-17, 1930-38 or 1942-44.)

These interstate matches witnessed some remarkable performances: 

  • Alex Keath (OM 2010) made 200 not out against Brisbane Grammar in 2009. 
  • In 2006, Daniel Sartori (OM 2006) scored 200 and took 4 wickets for 90 runs against Brisbane whilst Bryan Vance (OM 2006) scored 140 against Sydney in the same year.
  • Max Stevenson (OM 2019) made a match-winning score of 162 against Sydney in 2019, which is the highest score against Sydney by a Melbourne Grammar player.

Other notable achievements 

  • In 1876, Hugh Ross (OM 1876), pictured in image 3, took 18 wickets for 58 runs in one match against Scotch College. 
  • In 1923, Bruce Dunlop (OM 1923) and James Bryant (OM 1923) made a 367 run partnership against The Geelong College. 
  • In 1976, when Melbourne Grammar won the premiership, bowler Mike Davis (OM 1977) bagged 34 wickets, including 7/72 against St Kevin’s College. Spinner John Thomson (OM 1976) took 7/61 against The Geelong College, and Craig Henderson (OM 1976) made 163 runs against Xavier College. 
  • In 2000/01, Owen Webb (OM 2001) scored three centuries with a highest score of 144 against Wesley College.
  • In 2005/06, Captain of Cricket Bryan Vance (OM 2006) scored six centuries with a highest score of 204 against Xavier College. He finished the season with 799 runs at an average of 88.8. In the same season, Daniel Sartori (OM 2006) scored four centuries including two double centuries with a highest of 201 against St Kevin’s College. Tom Corker (OM 2006) scored two centuries and featured in a 316-run partnership with Bryan Vance against Xavier College. Although the team was one of the School’s strongest in recent times, Melbourne Grammar lost the premiership to Haileybury College by one point.
  • Jack Slade (OM 2007) took 7/66 against Haileybury in 2006/07 and Joshua Skala (OM 2010) scored three centuries in 2008/09 with a highest score of 130 against Brighton Grammar School. 
  • In addition to his interstate success, Alex Keath (OM 2010) scored two centuries in 2009/10. 
  • Zach Merrett (OM 2013) scored two centuries in 2012/13.
  • Edward Faulkner (OM 2016) took 7/24 in the last match of the 2015/16 season against Scotch College to help clinch the premiership. 
  • Max Stevenson (OM 2019) made four centuries as well as taking 5/41, including a hat trick, against Geelong College. He scored 633 runs at an average of 90.4 to top the APS average for the season.

International tours

International cricket tours to England began in 1993, with trips every two years after that. The three-week tours included regular games against schools such as Eton, Harrow, Wellington, Eastbourne, Lancing and Bedford as well as games against Urchfont Village in Wiltshire and the Royal Household at Windsor. A tour of Lords, the home of cricket – alongside seeing international games there and at other test venues – were highlights of the trips.

Other tours included games in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and on Guernsey and Jersey Islands, allowing our teams to play cricket on overseas pitches and connect with other schools’ rich histories. 

A new scoreboard

The First XI have largely played their home games on the Main Oval. A new electronic scoreboard was unveiled in September 2018. Named in honour of Angus Mackay (OM 1952), the 1952 Captain of Cricket and a School benefactor, it is a state-of-the-art instrument. 

Staff involvement

Staff have made notable contributions to the success of cricket at Melbourne Grammar. Noel Austin (OM 1937), a member of the 1937 premiership team, went on to teach at Melbourne Grammar (1941–82) as the Head of Classics, and also as the Master in Charge of the First XI from 1952 to 1972. During that time the School won premierships in 1957, 1959 and 1965. 

From 1999, Mathematics and Chemistry teacher Dr Marcus Richards was the Teacher in Charge of Cricket for 20 years. Under his leadership, Melbourne Grammar won two premierships in 2008 and 2016 and finished second six times, three of these by only one point. In addition to coaching the Second XI for 17 years, Dr Richards fielded over 200 teams in APS competitions and was involved in five England Cricket Tours and 20 Tri-Grammar Cricket Festivals, seven of which he organised and hosted.

This article was updated on 30 December 2020 and again on 23 February 2021.