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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Trumble, Hugh (1867–1938)

by Peter Pierce

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

Hugh Trumble (1867-1938), by unknown photographer, c1907

Hugh Trumble (1867-1938), by unknown photographer, c1907

La Trobe Picture Collection, State Library of Victoria, H90.111/273

Hugh Trumble (1867-1938), cricketer and administrator, was born on 19 May 1867 at Collingwood, Melbourne, son of Irish-born William Trumble, warder, and his Scottish wife Elizabeth, née Clark. Thomas and John William, who became a Test cricketer, were his brothers. Educated at Hawthorn Grammar School, Hugh played grade matches with the Melbourne Cricket Club. He joined the National Bank of Australasia in 1887, and rose to be accountant at Richmond in 1903 and manager at Kew from 1908. On 12 March 1902 at St George's Anglican Church, Malvern, he had married Queensland-born Florence Christian.

In 1887-88 Trumble first played for Victoria, taking 7 for 52 against New South Wales with his medium-paced off breaks. He made five tours of England, the first in 1890: according to Wisden, he improved 'almost beyond belief' each time. In 1896 he took 18 wickets in three Tests, including 12 for 89 in a losing side at The Oval. A fine slips fieldsman (45 Test catches) as well as an accomplished batsman, Trumble shared with Clem Hill the long-standing record for a seventh wicket partnership (165) in the fourth Test of 1897-98. Trumble made the double (1183 runs and 142 wickets) on the 1899 tour of England; it was then that W. G. Grace called him 'the best bowler Australia has sent us'.

In the 1901-02 series against England Trumble was victorious in two Tests as captain, taking 28 wickets for the series and a hat-trick at Melbourne. In 1902, in two of the closest Test matches of all time, he took 10 for 128 at Old Trafford (where Australia won by three runs), and at The Oval made 64 not out and 7 not out, while taking 12 for 173 (England won by one wicket). Trumble's Test career finished spectacularly on the Melbourne ground in the 1903-04 series when he took 7 for 28 in England's second innings which he ended with another hat-trick to ensure Australia's victory by 218 runs. In 31 Tests against England he took 141 wickets at 21.78, a record aggregate for either side until beaten in 1981 by D. K. Lillee. Trumble scored 851 runs in Test matches at 19.78 and made three first-class centuries.

An English opponent, C. B. Fry, called Trumble 'one of the greatest bowlers of all time', and saw him as a 'cunning and long-headed adversary, who knew every move of the game'. Trumble made the most of his height (6 ft 4 ins, 193 cm), kept an impeccable length, turned the ball sharply on helpful pitches and varied pace deceivingly. 'Where most bowlers attacked weakness, Trumble fed the opposition's strength, challenging the batsman's ambition', wrote A. G. Moyes who ranked this imperturbable and resourceful bowler as one of the immortals of the art. M. A. Noble described Trumble's approach to the wicket as 'sidelong and insinuating, with his neck craned like a gigantic bird'.

Lanky, with long bones, a prominent nose and large ears, Trumble was affectionately described by (Sir) Pelham Warner as 'that great camel'. A life member of the Melbourne Cricket Club and secretary from 1911 until his death, Trumble was a shrewd, genial and popular administrator. While secretary, he oversaw the building of two new grandstands at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. He was a renowned story-teller, generous in his time with the press and encouraging to young players.

Survived by his wife, six sons and two daughters, Trumble died at his Hawthorn home on 14 August 1938 and was cremated. Memorabilia held by the Melbourne Cricket Club include his pipe, one of his imported stetsons, a caricature by Hal Gye and a portrait by A. E. Newbury.

Select Bibliography

  • A. G. Moyes, Australian Bowlers from Spofforth to Lindwall (Syd, 1953)
  • A. G. Moyes, Australian Cricket (Syd, 1959)
  • K. Dunstan, The Paddock that Grew (Melb, 1962)
  • C. Martin-Jenkins, The Complete Who's Who of Test Cricketers (Adel, 1980)
  • J. Pollard, Australian Cricket (Syd, 1982)
  • B. M. Crowley, A History of Australian Bowling and Wicketkeeping, 1850-1986 (Melb, 1986)
  • Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, 1938
  • Age (Melbourne), 15 Aug 1938
  • Argus (Melbourne), 15 Aug 1938
  • Australasian, 20 Aug 1938.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Peter Pierce, 'Trumble, Hugh (1867–1938)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 28 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (MUP), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

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