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David Boon

by Saurabh Sharma May 30, 2020 • 05:57 AM

Possibly Tasmania's all-time favourite cricketing son, David Boon was a pugnacious right-handed batsman who served his state and country with enormous distinction. He was not always the most stylish player, but for what he lacked in fluency he more than compensated with his ardour for occupying the crease and accumulating runs when they were most needed. A right-handed batsman and a very occasional off-spin bowler, he played First-class cricket for both his home state Tasmania and English county side Durham.

Known for his portly figure and distinctive moustache, Boon scored over 7,000 runs at Test level, and made over 100 appearances for both the Test and One Day International Australian side. After leaving the international game he went to England to captain Durham before retiring to become a national selector.

Boon was born in Launceston on 29th December, 1960. His father Clarrie was a respected sports administrator and a strong supporter of his son's career. His mother, Lesley, played hockey for Australia. Boon was educated at Launceston Grammar School where he excelled at cricket, Australian football and swimming. His cricket career gained impetus when the Lancashire professional Jack Simmons was coaching in Launceston and predicted the lad would play for Australia. Simmons was captaining Tasmania when Boon began his first-class career as a 17-year-old. Years later Boon formally recognised his debt to Simmons by naming his son after him. Boon's achievement in becoming a fine Test player from a state which at that stage was still to enter the Sheffield Shield is strong evidence of his singular determination.

As an 18 year old, Boon played a starring role in Tasmania's history-making Gillette Cup win in 1978-79, the state's first interstate one-day title, and he never really looked back over the course of an elite-level career which spanned 17 years.

Boon made his international debut in the third final of the 1983–84 World Series Cup between Australia and the West Indies. He scored 39 from 71 balls for the losing team and had to wait almost twelve months for another opportunity. A good performance for the Prime Minister's XI in 1984–85 led to Boon's Test debut, against the West Indies at Brisbane. He stood up well to the pace of the West Indies' bowlers and scored 51 in the second innings, batting at number six. After the match, Kim Hughes resigned the captaincy of Australia. Boon played two more Tests in the series, and was then trialled as a middle-order batsman in eight ODIs during the World Series Cup. His top score was 55, and he was omitted from the team for the finals.

Selected for the Ashes tour of England in 1985, Boon's batting disappointed. He struggled to cope with spin bowling due to slow footwork and passed fifty only once in the first four Tests. He was subsequently omitted from the side for the last two Tests in the series. Australia lost the series 1–3.

 

Returning to the team for the 1985–86 Test series against New Zealand, Boon batted at number three and top-scored with 81 in the second innings of the second Test at Sydney as Australia successfully chased a target of 260 to win. However, this series was lost as well.

Australia had long-standing problems finding a successful pair of opening batsmen. After Kepler Wessels quit the team in mid-summer, Boon was promoted to open with debutant Geoff Marsh for the Test series against India. He responded with his first Test century, 123 from 255 balls, in his debut in the position at Adelaide. Together with Marsh, Boon gave the Australian upper-order a stability it had not had for many years. In the third Test of the series at Sydney, he consolidated his position with an innings of 131. Despite this newly found batting solidity,

Australia struggled in the series and drew all three Tests. Boon was also tried as an opener in the World Series Cup and made four half-centuries in twelve innings as Australia won the tournament for the first time in three years. On the following tour of New Zealand, Boon carried his bat for 58 not out in a total of 103 in the third Test at Auckland, which Australia lost.

Boon began the 1986 tour of India with a century in the Tied Test at Chennai and averaged 65 in another drawn series. He hit his maiden ODI century, 111 from 118 balls, in the first match of the series at Jaipur. However, he suffered a setback during the 1986–87 Ashes series when he lost form and was dropped after four Tests despite scoring 103 in the first innings at Adelaide. He was also omitted from the ODI team.

Boon returned to the ODI team for the Sharjah Cup tournament in the UAE during April 1987. Although Australia lost all three matches, Boon had scores of 71, 62 and 73, which secured his place for the fourth World Cup, held in India and Pakistan later in the year. His 447 runs (at an average of 55.87) was a major contribution to Australia's first World Cup victory.

The selectors persevered with Boon as a Test opener and he hit 143 from 255 balls when recalled for the first Test against New Zealand at Brisbane in late 1987. His ability to negotiate the bowling of Kiwi fast bowler Richard Hadlee contributed greatly to Australia winning its first Test series in four years. Against Sri Lanka at the Adelaide Oval he hit his highest ODI score of 122 and made 47 and 43 in the two finals of the World Series Cup, when Australia again defeated New Zealand. In January 1988, he made a fighting 184 not out in the second innings of the Bicentennial Test at Sydney to extricate Australia from a potentially match-losing position. He received the player of the match award and was voted international cricketer of the year.

 

Returning to the team for the 1985–86 Test series against New Zealand, Boon batted at number three and top-scored with 81 in the second innings of the second Test at Sydney as Australia successfully chased a target of 260 to win. However, this series was lost as well.

Australia had long-standing problems finding a successful pair of opening batsmen. After Kepler Wessels quit the team in mid-summer, Boon was promoted to open with debutant Geoff Marsh for the Test series against India. He responded with his first Test century, 123 from 255 balls, in his debut in the position at Adelaide. Together with Marsh, Boon gave the Australian upper-order a stability it had not had for many years. In the third Test of the series at Sydney, he consolidated his position with an innings of 131. Despite this newly found batting solidity,

Australia struggled in the series and drew all three Tests. Boon was also tried as an opener in the World Series Cup and made four half-centuries in twelve innings as Australia won the tournament for the first time in three years. On the following tour of New Zealand, Boon carried his bat for 58 not out in a total of 103 in the third Test at Auckland, which Australia lost.

Boon began the 1986 tour of India with a century in the Tied Test at Chennai and averaged 65 in another drawn series. He hit his maiden ODI century, 111 from 118 balls, in the first match of the series at Jaipur. However, he suffered a setback during the 1986–87 Ashes series when he lost form and was dropped after four Tests despite scoring 103 in the first innings at Adelaide. He was also omitted from the ODI team.

Boon returned to the ODI team for the Sharjah Cup tournament in the UAE during April 1987. Although Australia lost all three matches, Boon had scores of 71, 62 and 73, which secured his place for the fourth World Cup, held in India and Pakistan later in the year. His 447 runs (at an average of 55.87) was a major contribution to Australia's first World Cup victory.

The selectors persevered with Boon as a Test opener and he hit 143 from 255 balls when recalled for the first Test against New Zealand at Brisbane in late 1987. His ability to negotiate the bowling of Kiwi fast bowler Richard Hadlee contributed greatly to Australia winning its first Test series in four years. Against Sri Lanka at the Adelaide Oval he hit his highest ODI score of 122 and made 47 and 43 in the two finals of the World Series Cup, when Australia again defeated New Zealand. In January 1988, he made a fighting 184 not out in the second innings of the Bicentennial Test at Sydney to extricate Australia from a potentially match-losing position. He received the player of the match award and was voted international cricketer of the year.

 

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