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Hordern, Herbert Vivian (Ranji) (1883–1938)

from Sydney Morning Herald

Dr. H. V. [Herbert Vivian] Hordern, the former international Australian cricketer, died suddenly last night at the age of 55. He took ill in the morning.

Dr. Hordern was educated at the Sydney Church of England Grammar School, afterwards studying dentistry at Sydney University, Pennsylvania University and Edinburgh University. Before leaving Australia, he was a keen cricketer, but it was in America that he developed that skill as a bowler that eventually made his name famous.

It was there that he became interested in the possibilities of "googly" bowling. The famous Englishman, B. J. T. Bosanquet, after whom the "bosey" was named, first hit upon the idea of bowling an oil-break with a leg break action, when experimenting with a tennis ball on a day when rain prevented cricket. Hordern actually experimented with saucers in an endeavour to discover how he could gain greater control and also learn more of the question of angles.

Encouraged by his success in a number of matches in America, Hordern decided to pit his new methods against English batsmen during a tour by a team of gentlemen of Philadelphia. Hordern succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, and in one match against a powerful M.C.C. team of almost test strength, captured eight wickets.

Returning to Australia, Hordern very quickly impressed the selectors with his newly-found powers. He gained a place in the team to meet the South Africans. In those days, the South Africans were noted for their "googly" bowlers, but Hordern even "out googlied" them, taking 14 wickets in two matches at an average of 21.07. His batting average was 27.

But it was during the 1912-13 season when, J. W. H. T. Douglas brought his first team to Australia, that Hordern revealed his greatest skill. In his first test match against the Englishmen, Hordern put up an amazing performance, capturing five wickets for 85 in a total of 318, and seven wickets for 90 in a total of 291. Throughout the series he was the mainstay of the attack, and finished the season with 32 wickets at a cost of 24.37 a wicket. On five occasions he captured the wicket of J. B. Hobbs.

Some idea of his bowling will be gained when it is recalled that A. Cotter, who secured the second greatest number of wickets for the series, finished with 12 wickets. He was considered by many the greatest "googly" bowler ever seen. Hordern was also a fairly sound batsman, and for the series had a batting average of 21.62.

Hordern retired from first class cricket after his marriage. During the war, he served four years in Egypt and Palestine. On his return he was connected with the Stock Exchange, but retired over four years ago.

The late Dr. Hordern leaves two sons, Herbert and Henry, who played for The King's School some years ago. He is survived by three sisters, Baroness du Teyll, Mrs. Royston Davey, and Mrs. F. E. McElhone.

The funeral will take place to-day, leaving Wood Coffill's parlours, 813 George Street. Sydney, at 3.30 p.m., for the Northern Suburbs Crematorium.

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Citation details

'Hordern, Herbert Vivian (Ranji) (1883–1938)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/hordern-herbert-vivian-ranji-22472/text32179, accessed 19 May 2019.

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