Former Australia wicketkeeper Len Maddocks dies at 90

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Len Maddocks, the former wicketkeeper who played seven Tests for Australia during the 1950s, has died at the age of 90. Maddocks had become Australia’s oldest living Test cricketer last year after the death of Arthur Morris; the oldest now is opening batsman Ken Archer, 88, who also played five Tests in the 1950s.

A short and nimble gloveman whose skill behind the stumps was such that he only once broke a finger, Maddocks was second in line to Gil Langley as Australia’s wicketkeeper during the mid-1950s. Although he went on numerous tours with the Australian side, Maddocks’ chances in the Test XI were limited.

He made his Test debut at his home ground, the MCG, against England in 1954-55, and top scored with 47 in his first innings. Again Maddocks was Australia’s top scorer in the first innings of his second Test, with 69 against England in the Adelaide Oval Test of the same series.

A well-respected domestic cricketer, he captained both Victoria and Tasmania during a first-class career that spanned more than 20 years. Although Tasmania was not part of the Sheffield Shield competition during his playing time, Maddocks later joined the ACB as a board member and was proud of his work chairing a sub-committee that organised the state’s inclusion in the Shield.

As an administrator, he is also remembered for being Australia’s team manager on the 1977 Ashes tour of England, when the World Series Cricket split came to light. In later years, Maddocks was philosophical about his involvement at such a fractious time, in 2012 that “somebody had to [be the manager], and all you can do is your best”.

Maddocks will also go down in history as the final victim in what came to be known as “Laker’s match”, when England offspinner Jim Laker took 19 wickets in the Manchester Test of 1956. Maddocks was also a talented Australian rules footballer and was on North Melbourne’s list during the 1940s, but never played a senior game. His brother Dick played five senior VFL games for North Melbourne also represented Victoria in cricket, but died of a heart attack at the age of 40. Len Maddocks was more fortunate in his health: he survived a heart attack in his 70s.

After his first-class career finished, Maddocks continued playing club cricket until the age of 46. His son Ian, also a wicketkeeper, went on to play 25 matches for Victoria.