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The Snick - Queanbeyan Cricket – 150 years strong......

AS we approach the 150th anniversary of the Queanbeyan Cricket Club, The Queanbeyan Age takes a look back at the incredible history behind the baggy blue cap.

It was the 1957-58 season and it had been 18 long, hard years since the Douglas Cup had made its way across the border to crown Queanbeyan as ACT first grade premiers. That year however, saw Queanbeyan take on a formidable Kingston side as the Bluebags went in search of a drought-breaking title.

Queanbeyan was led brilliantly by the late Terry Freebody whose team included the likes of brothers Mal and John Wheeler, Pat Jeffrey, Ian Armour and Peter Lidbetter. Also in the Queanbeyan line-up was mercurial wicketkeeper/batsman Jack McNamara, Jimmy Norton, Bill Cogan, Greg McTernan and wily left-arm spinner Frank Nash.

The final was played over four days at Ainslie Oval with Queanbeyan batting first and amassing a total of 348 with the Kingston side managing 283 in reply. Of particular note off the field on the day was one particular spectator, none other than then Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies who was in attendance to see the Wheeler brothers in action. Having previously met Freebody during the 1951 PM’s XI match, Menzies was there to take a look at John and Mal with a view to possible PM XI’s selection the following year. John was subsequently selected in the invitational side in the 1958/59.

There were several standout performances for Queanbeyan with both bat and ball as McNamara notched 78 opening the innings before steady contributions from Mal Wheeler (53) and Norton (35). Despite the contributions of the aforementioned trio, Queanbeyan’s innings had looked in danger of stalling before a then club and ACTCA record 10th wicket partnership between Lidbetter and Jeffrey. Together, the two managed 106 for the final wicket as Lidbetter crafted a superb 88 not out while ably supported by Jeffrey (33). Having played a major role in Queanbeyan posting a competitive total, Jeffrey then showed his skills with ball in hand as he ripped through the Kingston tail to finish with 5-91 and the man of the match award. The grand final victory was just reward for the perseverance and consistency from the Queanbeyan side over the course of the season.

No-one scored a century but Freebody led the way from the batting crease, scoring 397 runs at an average of 40. The bowlers meanwhile, were superb. Nash took his usual impressive haul of wickets (26) for the season, Jeffrey snared 32 scalps with his left arm swing and John Wheeler led the way with his 36 wickets. This proved the difference as sides were unable to score heavily enough to stop the raiders from across the border.

Premiership number five was safely in the Bluebags cupboard for that year but another 23 years were to pass before it returned.

It is not long until the Queanbeyan District Cricket Club holds the 150th Anniversary weekend celebrations.

The celebrations, to be held February 22-24, promise to be a wonderful chance for players from across many eras to be able to catch up with friends, share reflections of past performances. It will also provide a chance for the legends of yesteryear to mingle with the current crop of young players whom look to their more senior cricketers for inspiration and guidance.

 

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