Remembering the Australian Test players who left us in 2023
2023 was a memorable one for Australian cricket on many levels, but sadly it also marked the end for some of Australia’s greatest cricketers. Let’s take some time to remember the former Australian Test players who left us for good in 2023.
A right arm fast bowler, Allan made his Sheffield Shield debut for Queensland in the 1959-60 season but didn’t really establish himself in the team until 1963. Consistent form for Queensland saw him included in the Australian team to tour the West Indies in the 1964-65 season, only for illness to keep him out of the Test matches.
Injury to star quick Graham McKenzie saw Allan selected to make his Test debut at age 29 in the opening Ashes Test at Brisbane in December 1965, with Allan finishing the drawn match with figures of 2/83. He was made 12th man for the second Test and then dropped for the third.
While sitting out the third Test, he played for Queensland against Victoria at the MCG and became only the third player to take 10 wickets in an innings in Sheffield Shield, with figures of 10/61. That sort of form saw him immediately recalled for the fourth Test in Adelaide, but injury unfortunately forced him to pull out, effectively ending his Test career.
Allan was a very effective bowler for Queensland right up to his retirement at the end of the 1968-69 season, taking 206 first-class wickets at just 26.10, and he finished his career as Queensland’s then-highest-ever wicket-taker.
Peter Allan passed away in June 2023, aged 87.
Ken Archer AM
Ken Archer was a very handy opening batsman, and he represented Queensland in both cricket and baseball, before getting his long-awaited chance to play for Australia. He probably thought his Test career was on the way when he was selected in Lindsay Hassett’s team for the 1949-50 tour of South Africa, however despite scoring over 800 runs in the tour games, he was selected as 12th man in all five Tests.
He did such a good job carrying the drinks in South Africa that he was 12th man again in the first Ashes Test against the visiting English team the following summer, before being called up to open the batting with Arthur Morris in the low-scoring second Test at the MCG where he scored 26 and 48, and Australia recorded a narrow victory.
He played two more Tests that series before losing his place to Jim Burke from NSW, and then two Tests against the visiting West Indian team in the 1951 series.
He continued playing for Queensland until the end of the 1956-57 season, scoring 3774 runs at 29.50 in his first-class career before retiring and pursuing a career in broadcasting and the media for which he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1980. At the time of his death, Archer was Australia’s oldest surviving Test cricketer.
Ken Archer passed away in April 2023, aged 95.
Brian Booth MBE
Brian Booth was a natural athlete, representing Australia in both cricket and hockey, he was a district tennis champion, and a gifted middle-distance runner. In cricket, he played for the St George club from 1952 to 1977, winning six first grade premierships, played 93 games for NSW, 11 as captain, and 29 Tests for Australia, twice as captain.
Generally batting in the middle order, he scored 1773 Test runs at the healthy average of 42.21, with five centuries and 10 half-centuries, and 11,265 runs in all first class matches at an average of 45.42, with 26 centuries and 60 half-centuries.
In hockey he played over 300 games for the St George club across 20 seasons, winning eight premierships, represented NSW 30 times, and played two games for Australia at the 1956 Olympics.
Brian Booth passed away in May 2023, aged 89.
With a Test batting average at a shade over 16, Taber doesn’t fit the mould of the modern-day wicket-keeping all-rounder, but I doubt there’s been a better gloveman in the history of Australian cricket.
He began his first-grade career with the Gordon club at the age of 16, and went on to spend his whole career with the Stags. He was called into the NSW team in 1964 and soon established a reputation as one of the best glovemen in the country, particularly to spin bowling, and he remained NSW’s first-choice keeper for the next 10 years, captaining his state on many occasions.
Often touring with the Australian team as understudy to Barry Jarman, he was called into the Test team for the first Test against South Africa in December 1966 and held seven catches, and also effected a stumping, in what was an impressive debut.
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In all, he played 16 Tests finishing with 60 dismissals, before being replaced by the swashbuckling Rod Marsh in 1970. He played 129 first class games for 395 dismissals and scored eight half-centuries and a single century along the way.
Brian Taber passed away in July 2023, aged 83.