Former Australia allrounder played 44 Tests and claimed 186 wickets at a remarkable average of 20.53
In a Test career that spanned 1953 to 1963, Davidson played 44 times and claimed 186 wickets at a remarkable average of 20.53. It is the second-lowest average for any bowler with more than 150 Test wickets behind SF Barnes (16.43). He was also a very useful batter with five Test fifties and a first-class average of 32.96
Davidson grew up on the New South Wales Central Coast and learnt the game on a homemade pitch at the family property before he moved to Sydney.
After overcoming a series of injuries, Davidson was at his finest in the late 1950s and early 1960s under the captaincy of his schoolboy adversary, New South Wales team-mate and close friend Benaud.
Against India at Kanpur in 1959 he took match figures of 12 for 124 included his career-best 7 for 93 in the second innings from 57.3 overs.
He claimed a wicket with his last ball in Test cricket against England in 1963. “When I went to start that last over in Test cricket, it was a memory-lane thing,” he recalled in 2012. “I remembered my first Test match was in Nottingham and all the rest of my career came back, and I was thinking, ‘I hope I can do something in this over.’
“I had lost count of the number of balls I had bowled. I turned to the umpire, asking him how many balls were left. ‘This is it,’ he replied. The previous two deliveries I bowled to Alan Smith, I had him at a spot where his feet were doing something. I thought if I could pitch it on this particular spot, he would either nick it to the wicketkeeper or the slip. As it was, he nicked it to Bobby Simpson at first slip. It was like a crescendo, and then it was a relief that I had gone out in a way I did not think possible.”
After his playing days, Davidson remained a major figure in the game which included 33 years as president of Cricket New South Wales and five years as an Australia selector between 1979 and 1984.
“Alan Davidson’s passing is a sad moment for Australian cricket and for cricket across the world,” Richard Freudenstein, the Cricket Australia chair, said. “Alan was a colossal figure in our game, not only as one of the finest players to have represented Australia and NSW, but for the positive influence he exerted across the game as an administrator, mentor and benefactor.
“The tremendous skill and the boundless spirit with which Alan embraced cricket and life embodied everything that is great about the game. He will remain a shining example for every player who follows in his footsteps.
“On behalf of Cricket Australia, and all those who benefitted from Alan’s vast contribution across Australian cricket, I offer my deepest condolences to the Davidson family as well Alan’s many close friends, colleagues and former teammates.”
Lee German, the Cricket NSW chief executive, said: “Alan Davidson was one of New South Wales’ greatest ever cricketers and we are extremely saddened to hear of his passing.
“From everyone at Cricket NSW and all of those who benefitted from Alan’s massive contribution to the sport, I’d like to pass on my condolences to his family and friends. Alan’s involvement in cricket was far greater than just his outstanding playing career and his legacy will live on in the state for many years to come.
“He was a wonderful player, administrator, mentor and benefactor, but most of all he was a gentleman of the game.”
Among the many honours bestowed on Davidson for contributions to sport and charity, he was a member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame and the ICC Hall of Fame, in addition to being a made a member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1964 and awarded the Order of Australia (AM) in 1987.
On Saturday, the flag above the Members Pavilion at the SCG was flying at half mast.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo