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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Richardson, Arthur John (1888–1973)

by R. M. Gibbs

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

Arthur John Richardson (1888-1973), cricketer, was born on 24 July 1888 at Sevenhill, South Australia, son of Irish-born parents Nathaniel Richardson, farmer, and his wife Alice, née Temperly. Arthur played cricket at Sevenhill Public School and then in the Stanley Association. At the age of 17 he made 239, 142 and 150, each not out, in successive months. He batted powerfully—a correspondent recalled no other hit clearing the Clare butter factory—and often opened the bowling. On 18 April 1914 he married with Methodist forms Elsie Maude Trestrail in a private house at St Peters, Adelaide. By this stage he was employed as a water-meter tester in Adelaide.

After interstate cricket resumed in December 1918, Richardson played for South Australia. Despite a forceful 111 against the Marylebone Cricket Club team in 1920 in Adelaide, he was not included in the Australian squad for the 1921 tour of England. In matches against an M.C.C. side in 1922-23 he made 150 in 144 minutes and a hurricane 280, including a century before lunch. His partnerships with V. Y. Richardson (no relation) were features of Sheffield Shield matches. Tall and bespectacled, with a 'two-eyed', upright stance, 'Roscoe', as he was known, had a full range of strokes; he lofted the ball judiciously and drove 'with the force of a kicking mule'. He bowled accurate, flighted off-breaks, but was slow in the field. A right-handed batsman and bowler, he could also throw and bowl with his left hand. In December 1924 he played in his first Test (against England) and made 98. In the 1926 Test series he scored a century at Leeds, England, and tried 'leg theory' when bowling. His first-class career figures were 5238 runs (average 41.57) and 209 wickets (at 31.97); he played nine Tests, scoring 403 runs (average 31) and taking 12 wickets (at 43.42).

Richardson was based in Adelaide as an insurance inspector and State coach (1923-27) until accepting a playing-and-coaching offer from Western Australia in 1927. In his final first-class appearance at home he represented Western Australia against the M.C.C. in November 1929. Contracts followed in the Lancashire League—he broke its batting record in 1929 and took 10 wickets in an innings in 1932—and in South Africa and the West Indies. In the West Indies (1934-35) he umpired two Tests against England. Returning to Adelaide in 1936, he filled much of his life by coaching, umpiring and watching cricket. Coursing was another of his interests. Cricket had supported him throughout the Depression, but he lost his savings when H. W. Hodgetts's sharebroking firm collapsed in 1945. Another coaching contract (1946-49) with the South Australian Cricket Association, a testimonial match in 1949—Sir Donald Bradman's last first-class match—and various fund-raising efforts restored him to modest comfort. He was a State selector in 1948-49 and coach of the South Australian women's cricket team in 1955-56.

A man of firm principles and sober habits (he sucked a fruit stone, rather than chewing gum, when playing), Richardson was a worthy example to the young cricketers he coached. He died on 23 December 1973 at Semaphore and was cremated; his wife, daughter and two sons survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • L. R. Hill, Eighty Not Out (Mount Gambier, South Australia, 1968)
  • S. Downer, 100 Not Out (Adel, 1972)
  • J. Pollard, Australian Cricket (Syd, 1982)
  • C. Harte, SACA (Adel, 1990)
  • Northern Argus (Clare), 5 Oct 1906, 5 Apr 1907, 13 Feb 1914, 26 Feb 1926
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 11 Oct 1915, 4 Nov 1918, 9, 10 Nov 1920, 4 Mar 1949, 26 Dec 1973
  • Register (Adelaide), 10 Nov 1920, 16 Mar 1923, 8 Nov, 12, 26 Dec 1924, 1, 4 Jan, 5, 24 Feb 1926
  • private information.

Citation details

R. M. Gibbs, 'Richardson, Arthur John (1888–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 25 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (MUP), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

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