Two former Australian cricket greats have died within a day of each other. Cricket Australia said Saturday that Alan Davidson, an all-rounder known for his ability to swing the ball both ways, died peacefully at age 92 on Saturday morning. Off-spinner Ashley Mallett died on Friday at age 76 after a long battle with cancer.
Davidson, who played 44 test matches from 1953-63, was widely regarded as the world’s best left-arm fast bowler until the emergence of Pakistan star Wasim Akram. Davidson took 186 test wickets at an average of 20.53, and scored 1,328 test runs at 24.59.
Nicknamed “Claw” by fellow all-rounder Keith Miller after an impressive slips catch, Davidson routinely impressed teammates and fans with his batting, bowling and fielding.
The tied test at the Gabba in 1960 between Australia and West Indies, which Davidson played with a broken finger, was the highlight of his career. Davidson finished with match figures of 11-222 and a combined tally of 124 runs, with a final-innings run total of 80 setting the stage for a dramatic finish as the hosts rallied from 5-57 to finish all out for 232. It marked the first time a player completed the double of 10 wickets and 100 runs in a test.
West Indies captain Garry Sobers’ autobiography described Davidson as “perhaps the best (new-ball bowler) in the world for a period of about five years” and “a magnificent hitter.”
Mallett played 38 tests from his debut against England in 1968 and took 132 wickets at an average of 29.84, also finishing his test career against England in 1980. He is behind only Nathan Lyon (399 wickets) and Hugh Trumble (141) as Australia’s most successful test offspinners.
Mallett's career took off during his second overseas tour for Australia as Bill Lawry’s team secured a 3-1 series victory over India. During that series, Mallett took 28 wickets at an average of 19.1, including 10 wickets in the fifth and final test.