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Ponsford, William Harold (Bill) (1900–1991)

Tributes flowed yesterday for Australian cricket great Bill Ponsford, who died in a country nursing home north of Melbourne yesterday.

Ponsford, one of the world's most prolific batsmen of the 1920s and 1930s, died peacefully in his sleep, aged 90, a spokeswoman for the nursing home said.

"Ponny" scored seven centuries in a 29-Test career, including a record 451 run partnership with Sir Donald Bradman against England at the Oval in 1934.

He formed a formidable opening partnership also at state and Test level with Bill Woodfull, later Australian captain.

Ponsford is the only player in history to make two scores of more than 400 in first-class cricket, and achieved also the rare feat of scoring centuries in his first and last Tests.

He averaged better than 48 in Test matches, including centuries in his first two Tests against England in 1924-25. In first-class cricket he averaged an outstanding 65.18.

In his last series, against England in 1934, Ponsford scored 569 runs at an average of 94.83, eclipsing all but Bradman.

His Australian-record partnership with Bradman came in the final test of that series. Ponsford made 266 in what proved to be his last Test appearance.

Ponsford's batting prowess and uncanny ability to judge pace, spin and where a ball would land, showed up particularly against spin bowlers.

A former Australian captain and the Melbourne Cricket Club's secretary, Ian Johnson, said Ponsford had been one of the three greatest batsman the country had produced.

"Had Bradman come 10 years later the great comparisons would have been between Ponsford, Bradman and Trumper," Johnson told ABC radio yesterday, but while he was overshadowed by Bradman he still achieved a great deal in his own right.

"For example, in the 1934 tour of England he just headed Bradman for the Test batting averages."

Johnson said the naming of the Melbourne Cricket Ground's western stand after Ponsford in 1986 was a tribute to the great batsman's contribution to the game.

A former ABC cricket broadcaster, Alan McGilvray, said Ponsford had been one of the finest men he had met.

"I played my first cricket match against Bill Ponsford at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1933," he said.

"He got 100 off my bowling; I was very generous in that regard," McGilvray said.

"He was a magnificent player and what dazzled me about him was his great foot work; I've never seen footwork like it." (William Harold Ponsford, born October 19, 1900, died April 6, 1991.)

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'Ponsford, William Harold (Bill) (1900–1991)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 30 September 2020.

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