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Stan McCabe, Next Best to Don Bradman

16th July, 1910 was the date when an amazing Australian cricketer, Stan McCabe was born. He produced some extraordinary knocks down the lane.

Last updated: 16.07.2019
Stan McCabe next Best to Don Bradman | Sports Social Blog

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16th July 1910 was the birthday of the dashing Australian batsman Stan McCabe. A player in the same era as Don Bradman, McCabe used to be considered as the second best batsman in the Australian squad after Bradman during the late 30’s. Due to the health issues and Second World War, McCabe could play only 39 test matches but even in those 39 matches, there were three innings of such great quality and skill that those remained special in the history of the game.

The first one came in his 16th test during the first test of the 1932-33 Bodyline series. Bradman was not playing and till then Australian players and crowd was not aware of the England tactics of bowling at the body with packed leg side field. Australia soon lost the three wickets and McCabe was in the ground. For the next few hours, McCabe provided a great display of fearless hitting. Despite the extreme pace from Harold Larwood and plenty of short balls, McCabe did not back out and kept playing horizontal shots. He reached his first test century and batting with the tail-enders he scored 187 runs and remained unbeaten. The innings came off 233 balls with 25 boundaries. Although England won the match, this innings from McCabe gave hope to Australian players and fans that this kind of bowling could be tamed.

Moving on to Johannesburg, 1935. Australia were playing the second test match against South Africa and had an unlikely target of 399. A thunderstorm was approaching and they had to complete the chase before that. Bradman did not play and McCabe came at number 3 with the score on 17/1. Despite the stiff target he decided to have some fun and kept playing shots all around the wicket. He added 177 runs with Fingleton whose contribution was around 30. At one stage with Australia on 274/2 and McCabe on 189, the captain of the fielding team, Herbie Wade appealed for light. It was a rare event but he had a genuine concern as his fielders had every chance to get injured in the darkness from the cracking shots from McCabe. Soon a thunderstorm came and the match was over.


The third installment of the McCabe special came at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. England put up a massive 658/8 in their first innings. McCabe came to bat on 111/2 after the fall of Bradman’s wicket. He decided to attack from the very beginning and played his shots all around. At one stage Australia were 194/6 with only bowlers to come and McCabe decided to attack even more.  From 194 he took the total 411 and was the last man to get dismissed. Out of those 217 runs, only 38 runs were scored by the tail enders whereas McCabe added 170 runs to reach 232. Bradman was so impressed that he called his players to the balcony and said, “Come and look at this. You will never see the like of this again.” Even once McCabe was back to the Dressing room, Bradman told him, “If I could play an innings like that I would be a proud man, Stan.” 

No one can get a bigger compliment than this.

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