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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Favell, Leslie Ernest (Les) (1929–1987)

by Bernard Whimpress

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

Leslie Ernest (Les) Favell (1929-1987), cricketer, was born on 6 October 1929 at Arncliffe, Sydney, second child of Ernest Hastings Favell, postal assistant, and his wife Amelia Doris, née Saunderson, both born in Sydney. Les attended local schools and played his early cricket in the A. W. Green and Poidevin-Gray Shield competitions. At 18 he began his first-grade career with the St George District Cricket Club.

In 1951 Favell moved to South Australia and joined the East Torrens team. A right-hand batsman, he made his State début later that year, scoring 86 and 164 against New South Wales, and in 1952-53 played in his first Sheffield Shield winning side. In nineteen Test appearances starting in 1954-55 he made 757 runs, averaging 27.03. He toured the West Indies, South Africa, New Zealand, India and Pakistan with Australian teams. His only Test century was 101 at Madras, India, in 1959-60. He lost his place after proving susceptible to the speed of the West Indies’ fast bowler (Sir) Wesley Hall in 1960-61. In 1953 and 1954 he had also made the All-Australian baseball team.

As captain of South Australia in 1960-70, Favell played ninety-five games and led the State to Sheffield Shield wins in 1963-64 and 1968-69. In a record-breaking opening partnership in November 1967 he and John Causby made 281 runs against New South Wales. He played 202 first-class matches, amassing 12,379 runs at an average of 36.62, with 27 centuries. Of compact build, he was a great crowd pleaser whether opening the batting or in the middle order. He believed that the ball was there to be hit, and regularly peppered the short side-boundaries on the Adelaide Oval with hook and cut strokes. His aggression sometimes cost him his wicket and undoubtedly had limited his Test appearances, but his habitual striking of the first ball for four often set the foundation for 300-plus runs in a day, excellent for the era.

A South Australian selector in 1965-76, Favell was also a radio commentator for the Australian Broadcasting Commission after retiring as a player in 1970. For many years he conducted coaching clinics for junior cricketers and footballers in South Australia. He was appointed MBE in 1969. Sir Donald Bradman stated in 1970 that he had `set an example in sportsmanship that has never been bettered by anyone who had played the game’. That year Favell published a memoir, By Hook or by Cut.

First employed as a clerk with Philips Electrical Pty Ltd, Favell moved on to work for the Myer Emporium, Adelaide Sports Depot Pty Ltd and Berri Fruit Juices Co-op Ltd, as a sales representative. From 1965 he was a promotions manager at the Adelaide Advertiser. He had made what he described as `the best partnership in his life’ when, on 24 September 1955 at Burnside Christian Church, he married Berry Clare Shepley, a florist. Survived by his wife and their son and daughter, he died of cancer on 14 June 1987 at his Magill home and was cremated. Next year the Les Favell Foundation was established with the support of the South Australian Cricket Association to create opportunities for talented young players from country areas. In 1998 the indoor cricket centre at Adelaide Oval was named after him and Neil Dansie. Alan Tucker’s naïve portrait of Favell hangs in the Adelaide Oval Museum.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Harte, SACA: The History of the South Australian Cricket Association (1990)
  • R. Cashman et al (eds), The Oxford Companion to Australian Cricket (1996)
  • G. Sando and B. Whimpress, Grass Roots (1997)
  • Canberra Times, 14 Feb 1970, p 33
  • Age (Melbourne), 16 June 1987, p 52.

Citation details

Bernard Whimpress, 'Favell, Leslie Ernest (Les) (1929–1987)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2007, accessed online 26 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007

View the front pages for Volume 17

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