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Essex Shield

Tales from the Boundary

A Fair Dinkum Side - Plus One Other


On the subject of ideal elevens, how about this for a team of Australians who played in the Championship in the Forties and Fifties.   In batting order: Bill Alley, Jock Livingston (wicketkeeper), Ken Grieves, Jack Pettiford, Colin McCool, Vic Jackson, George Tribe, Bruce Dooland, Jack Walsh, Jack Manning and Alan Walker.   A superb attacking batting line-up plus a superabundance of spin; the seam bowling may be a bit light, but Alley and Walker could take the shine off before Tribe, Dooland and co. got to work.

There was another great Australian all-rounder here in the same period, though he never appeared in County cricket.  That was C.G.(Cec) Pepper - once described as the finest Australian never to play Test cricket.

How best to describe him?  “Hell raiser” scarcely does him justice!

Pepper first came to prominence on the 1945 Australian Services tour, when he was second only to Keith Miller in star quality.  He looked a cert to play for Australia, but all that changed in a Shield match when he faced Bradman.

Twice in one over Pepper was sure he had Bradman lbw, but the umpire disagreed.  At the end of the over, Pepper told the umpire and the Don what he thought of them in his own inimitable way, and that put paid to his chances of Test cricket.  Instead he came to England for a successful and lucrative career in the Lancashire League.

Why didn't he come into County cricket?  With his reputation for on-field mayhem, possibly County chairmen were terrified of the consequences.

It was thus gloriously ironic that when he finished playing, Cec Pepper became a first-class umpire, and by all accounts very good.  His only regret was not being picked for a Test, unlike his great mate Alley.

Cec Pepper – truly a larger than life character.

David Brangwyn