Ian Johnson (cricketer)

Ian William Geddes Johnson, CBE (8 December 1917 – 9 October 1998) was an Australian cricketer who played 45 Test matches as a slow off-break bowler between 1946 and 1956. Johnson captured 109 Test wickets at an average of 29.19 runs per wicket and as a capable lower order batsman made 1,000 runs at an average of 18.51 runs per dismissal. He captained the Australian team in 17 Tests, winning seven and losing five, with a further five drawn. Despite this record, he is better known as the captain who lost consecutive Ashes series against England. Urbane, well-spoken and popular with his opponents and the public, he was seen by his teammates as a disciplinarian and his natural optimism was often seen as naive.

Ian Johnson
Johnson in about 1946
Personal information
Full nameIan William Geddes Johnson
Born(1917-12-08)8 December 1917
North Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died9 October 1998(1998-10-09) (aged 80)
Albert Park, Victoria, Australia
Height1.77 m (5 ft 10 in)
BowlingRight-arm off-spin
RoleSpecialist bowler
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 164)29 March 1946 v New Zealand
Last Test2 November 1956 v India
Domestic team information
Career statistics
Competition Test First-class
Matches 45 189
Runs scored 1,000 4,905
Batting average 18.51 22.92
100s/50s 0/6 2/21
Top score 77 132*
Balls bowled 8,780 35,968
Wickets 109 619
Bowling average 29.19 22.92
5 wickets in innings 3 27
10 wickets in match 0 4
Best bowling 7/44 7/42
Catches/stumpings 30/0 137/0
Source: ESPNcricinfo, 26 February 2008

Aged 17, Johnson made his first-class cricket debut for Victoria in the 1935–36 season but did not establish a permanent place in the team until 1939–40. His career was interrupted by the Second World War; he served with the Royal Australian Air Force as a pilot and later as a flight instructor. He returned to cricket after his discharge and was selected to tour New Zealand with the Australian team, making his Test debut. Johnson was part of Don Bradman's Invincibles team; undefeated on tour in England in 1948. He was a regular member of the national side until poor form saw him left out of the Australian squad for the 1953 tour of England.

Johnson was appointed Australian captain following Lindsay Hassett's retirement. The appointment was not universally popular; some teammates and supporters felt Keith Miller had a better claim to the position. In his first series as captain, Australia was defeated by a strong English team on home soil. The tour of the West Indies that followed was a cricketing and diplomatic triumph for Johnson. Australia won the Test series comfortably and Johnson's astute public relations skills helped avoid a repeat of the crowd disturbances that had marred England's visit to the islands 12 months before. However, his Australian team then went on to lose the 1956 Ashes series in England. Johnson's Test career ended with Australia's first Test tour of the Indian subcontinent, which occurred during the voyage back to Australia. Australia lost the one-off Test against Pakistan, the first between the two nations, before claiming the series against India. On his return to Australia, he retired from all forms of cricket at age 39.

After retirement, Johnson worked for a time as a sports commentator, including covering the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne. In 1957 he was appointed Secretary of the Melbourne Cricket Club, one of the most prestigious positions in Australian sport. He would remain in the role for 26 years, overseeing the development of the Melbourne Cricket Ground and playing a key role in the organisation of the Centenary Test in 1977. In 1956 he was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to cricket; this was twice upgraded: to OBE in 1977 and to CBE in 1982.

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