Obituaries Australia

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: use double quotes to search for a phrase
  • Tip: lists of awards, schools, organisations etc

Browse Lists:

Flockton, Raymond George (Ray) (1930–2011)

by Rodney Cavalier

from Southern Highlands Branch ALP Newsletter

Raymond (Ray) George Flockton was born in Paddington in 1930 during the misery of the Depression. Paddington was struggle town, nothing like the suburb of today. Multi-million dollar terraces in today’s values were then regarded as slums which, by a miracle, escaped clearance in the do-gooder decade of the 1960s. The memory and example of Victor Trumper was the inspiration for every Australian schoolboy showing cricketing promise, nowhere more than Paddington where Vic had grown up. Ray attended Crown Street Public School, the same school as Vic.

By his teen years Ray Flockton was a prodigy. He could bat and bowl out of the ordinary. At just 16 he made his first grade debut for Paddington, then the champion Sydney side which included several gun cricketers. Ray had to be especially good to enter the ranks. He proved worthy of his place.

In October 1951 Ray made his first class debut for New South Wales in a match against Queensland at the Gabba. NSW was a formidable side, abounding in Test players. The batting opened with Arthur Morris and Syd Barnes and continued through Miller, Burke, de Courcy unto Lindwall and Benaud. Ray came in at no.6, scored just 25 in a total of 400 of which Arthur Morris contributed 253. He did not have a second innings, a regular feature for such a dominating side. Ray took 1-62. His wicket was no less than Slasher Mackay.

His second game was against the West Indies tourists, his debut at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Ray entered at no. 8 after the NSW top order had been demolished: 3-4 then 6-72. Ray belted 85 in just 94 minutes. In partnership with Richie Benaud, the 8th wicket added 100 to get NSW to 234. That provided a lead of a neat 100. Ray took 2-12 off 7 overs. Again he did not get a second innings.

You might imagine the selectors are noticing these contributions. They will have marked his card as a player to watch. His skipper was Arthur Morris. I asked Arthur earlier this day about Ray’s debut. “He was as good as any of us,” Arthur noted, “but he was one of those cricketers selected a bit early and was brought along at the wrong time.” Why did he bat no.8? I am assuming there was a grand strategy in holding him back. “I’d like to think so, Rodney, but I really can’t remember.” Given Arthur knew his cricket inside out, I am certain Arthur kept Ray for a fightback with Richie. Later that season Ray came in at no.9.

Ray held his place right through the 1951-52 season. That is, he was good enough to be selected with the Test players available. The final game of the season was the debut of Ian Craig who scored 91.

1952-53 was a reversal of fortunes. Scores of 1, 0 & 8, 13 & 19, 17 & 33 were not enough when others players were emerging. His final game that season was when Bob Simpson debuted. It was a long time out.

Ray did not return for seven years. In 1959-60, with the Test players touring India, Ray’s grade scores warranted recall. NSW was a different side, only Richie remained from his debut game. A side which held the Shield and would go on holding the Shield was superbly settled – Ian Craig, Warren Saunders, Doug Ford (such a fine wicketkeeper), Brian Booth, Neil Marks, Graham Thomas, Johnny Martin, the magnificent Frank Misson, Wally Welham. Several would be playing Tests very shortly. His return was against Western Australia, a side that included Bobby Simpson who had gone west because there was no certainty of selection in the NSW side. Ray contributed 60 and 76, runs not sufficient to save NSW from an innings defeat.

This was Ray’s salad year. Against Queensland at the SCG he scored 97 and followed against South Australia on 8-9 January 1960 with 264 not out. The score was a post-War Australian record in first class cricket and was then the highest score in all of the cricket world for a debut century. His innings occupied a lot of space in the evening newspapers then circulating in Sydney. He was a hero and much admired by the SCG regulars. He required only 339 balls to make his runs. Ray finished the season with 16 and 71 against Victoria.

The season of 1960-61 was not so successful though he managed 110 against SA batting at no.7 and 84 also against SA later in the season. His problem was, as he was passing 30, he had not moved to the next stage as had contemporaries like Bob Simpson and Norm O’Neill, as would Brian Booth. Fine players were emerging ten years younger. The prodigy was not faltering. Nor had he made good his immense promise.

The NSW side that included Ray in 1962-63 included a brace of some of the finest Test cricketers of that age or any age. In the first game at the Gabba, Wes Hall hit Ray in the head, the ball fell onto the stumps, an appeal went up; Queensland’s captain, Slasher Mackay, had the appeal withdrawn of the instant. A gentleman was Slasher. They all seemed to be in those times. Ray retired and did not return.

Richie had instructed his batsmen to go after 400 runs in a day. Ray’s forceful batting was exactly what the doctor ordered. NSW did not always get there but they were very close more often than not. Ray scored 55 not out against WA at the SCG and followed with 62 not out against the MCC, a game blessed in my memory for it was on the Saturday that I first visited the Sydney Cricket Ground. I will not ever forget the searing beauty of walking from behind the Brewongle onto the concourse to see men in creams and blue caps, sometimes moving, sometimes stationary on a wide green field, with brown-painted stands and hills on the other side.

In a day in which Norm O’Neill and Bob Simpson belted 234 for the second wicket and Brian Booth settled the Hill crowd by lobbing a six among the loudest of the barrackers, Ray’s 62 not out is forgotten.

With the NSW Test players regularly on duty, Ray was in the side for the season. Ray was in the middle when Doug Walters made his debut, dismissed for nothing much when NSW was all out 82. In January 1963 against Victoria in January 1963, Ray scored just 3 and 1. It was the final game for NSW that season, the final state game for Ray.

On Friday Warren Saunders will deliver the eulogy at Ray’s funeral in Port Macquarie. I spoke to Warren who was most generous in his memories of a generous, much loved man. Ray was a part of an era in which Australian cricket was truly amateur. As a working policeman, playing for NSW was possible because of award conditions but getting the time to practice was another matter. Benevolent employers were essential for the cricketer making his way and no less critical for the Test player who hoped to keep his place. All too often Ray languished as he carried drinks to the middle and observed play from the dressingroom. The time afforded self-absorption must be so difficult for the sportsman who is so very close to what he might become. Yet so far.

Warren and Arthur instantly recalled Ray as a funny man, the teller of stories that had people trying to swallow a laugh from the gag three ago as he piled on the next. At a NSW cricket reunion dinner the guest of honour was RG Menzies, then Prime Minister. Menzies was in stitches at Ray’s speech. Menzies included Ray in his Prime Minister’s XI against Peter May’s MCC in 1958-59. Knowing what he was doing and knowing cricket is almost as much about off the field fellowship, Menzies wanted a fine player who would enliven the dressing room and the after-match celebrations.

Jack Chegwyn was a stalwart of NSW cricket who selected teams to tour country NSW. In those amateur times, an invitation to visit country towns – the nursery of Australian cricket -  all expenses paid was irresistible. Cheggie made sure Ray sang for his supper. A regular trick was a race broadcast in the style of Ken Howard, delivered in that same breathless clip, in which the names of the horses were the names of the unsung heroes and heroines who kept the local teams going. The winner of the race, invariably, was the champion who kept the local cricket association viable.

Being a policeman did not restrict his sense of fun and mischief. On point duty – i.e. directing traffic in the era before traffic lights – Ray was always on duty at Sydney Stadium (of fond memory) at Ruschcutters Bay for the big fights on Monday night and otherwise a regular at the corner of Bridge and George. If he recognised you, and there was a fair chance there would be a cricketer going about his business, Ray stopped traffic in all directions to signal the identified party that he was required to present himself to the copper in the middle.

Cricket nicknames used to be marvels of invention. None of this name shortening or extension that stretches the limits of the modern dressing room. Over dinner at Basil Sellers’ home at Cap Ferrat during the last Ashes tour, Richie Benaud told me that Ray was the most creative inventor of nicknames in his time. Richie’s example was Doug Walters. Doug could not be Doug or Dougie because those names belonged to Doug Ford. At a time when Frank Misson was known as Strepta as in Streptamison and Ian Quick was Cure ‘em as in Cure ‘em Quick, Dougie Walters was Biki. Whence Biki? At that time K. D. Walters was the toast of cricket, favourite son, top of the pops. The no.1 hit single was “Itsy bitsy eeny weeny little polka dot bikini”. So Ray came up with bikini. The logic or anti-logic of cricket nicknames dictate a shortening, unless you are lengthening a name that is inconveniently short to begin with. Thus bikini became biki.

Heart stopping humour was a refuge for a bloke for whom times were often hard. There was little or no money to be made in cricket. Match payments were below a pittance, most employers were good only for leave without pay. There was no superannuation at the end of it all. State players gave up maybe 50 days for matches and Test players several months in touring years. Apart from money not earned, they were ceding seniority in a public service and Police Force definitively hierarchical in which seniority was almost everything. Bill O’Reilly noted in his memoirs that going to England in 1934 meant he was conceding seven months’ seniority to all the teachers that began the same day as him. Tiger did not continue in teaching.

Ray was honest and open. None of his contemporaries remember a word of disparagement about another. Memories after death are necessarily coloured by generosity. Yet none of these assessments of Ray are new. I remember being a guest of the NSW Cricket Association at a Shield game shortly after I became a Trustee, a day when one listens and asks questions. So it was in the course of that day I tried to discover what had happened to those splendid young men who made life wonderful during the golden summers of the early 1960s. Alan Davidson, Bob Horsell and others told me what was going on with Frank Misson, Gordon Rorke, Gamini Goonesena, Doug Ford, Warren Saunders. What about Ray Flockton. Ray’s fine but you can ask him yourself, he’ll be here today. Which I did. A perfect moment.

We can finish by noting Ray played in 37 first class games for NSW yet managed only 50 innings, an indication of the number of innings victories or the lack of need for a middle-order batsmen in the run chases for victory. His average was 41.34, impressive in any era. He also captured 27 wickets.

Or we can finish by noting where he came from and a life which was never easy. He married, had the blessing of two daughters, served in the NSW Police Force, coached cricket in the ACT, sold insurance and retired to Port Macquarie. Four months ago he was diagnosed with cancer of the liver. His end was swift. One of his daughters survives him.

Ray, you were magnificent.

Acknowledgments: Arthur Morris and Warren Saunders for sharing their knowledge of Ray; Cricket NSW for their note about the passing of Ray. Cricket is most fortunate to have administrations that respect the past and past players.

Original publication

  • Southern Highlands Branch ALP Newsletter, no 188, December 2011

Other Obituaries for Raymond George (Ray) Flockton

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Rodney Cavalier, 'Flockton, Raymond George (Ray) (1930–2011)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/flockton-raymond-george-ray-15930/text27131, accessed 23 October 2017.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2017