Hugh Trumble was the third of the five children of my Irish great-great-grandfather William Trumble (1828–1908) (q.v.). Hugh was a renowned Test cricketer. An English opponent, C. B. Fry, called him “one of the greatest bowlers of all time.”
Hugh was born at home in Sackville Street, East Collingwood, on May 19, 1867.
He went to Hawthorn Grammar School, and played grade matches with the Melbourne Cricket Club.
He joined the National Bank of Australasia in 1887, and rose to be accountant at Richmond in 1903, and, excitingly, manager at Kew from 1908. Evidently the bank accommodated his demanding international cricket commitments.
On March 12, 1902, at St. George’s Church of England, Malvern, where my father and grandfather before him were both churchwardens, Hugh Trumble married Florence Christian, a Queenslander. The marriage seems to have survived this encumbrance.
In the summer of 1887–88 Hugh Trumble first played cricket for Victoria, taking 7 for 52 against New South Wales with his medium-paced off breaks.
He made five tours of England, the first in 1890: according to Wisden each time he improved “almost beyond belief.” In 1896 he took 18 wickets in three Tests, including 12 for 89 in a losing side at The Oval. A fine slips fieldsman (45 Test catches) as well as an accomplished batsman, Hugh Trumble shared with Clem Hill the long-standing record for a seventh wicket partnership (165) in the fourth Test of 1897–98. Hugh Trumble made the double (1,183 runs and 142 wickets) on the 1899 tour of England; it was then that W. G. Grace called him “the best bowler Australia has sent us.”
In the 1901–02 series against England, Hugh Trumble was victorious in two Tests as captain, taking 28 wickets for the series and a hat-trick at Melbourne. In 1902, in two of the closest Test matches of all time, he took 10 for 128 at Old Trafford (where Australia won by three runs), and at The Oval made 64 not out and 7 not out, while taking 12 for 173 (England won by one wicket).
Hugh Trumble’s Test career finished spectacularly on the Melbourne ground in the 1903–04 series when he took 7 for 28 in England’s second innings which he ended with another hat-trick to insure Australia’s victory by 218 runs. In 31 Tests against England he took 141 wickets at 21.78, a record aggregate for either side until beaten in 1981 by Dennis Lillee. Trumble scored 851 runs in Test matches at 19.78 and made three first-class centuries.
C. B. Fry saw Hugh Trumble as a “cunning and long-headed adversary, who knew every move of the game.” Trumble made the most of his height (6 ft 4 in), kept an impeccable length, turned the ball sharply on helpful pitches, and varied pace deceivingly. “Where most bowlers attacked weakness, Trumble fed the opposition’s strength, challenging the batsman’s ambition,” wrote A. G. Moyes, who ranked this imperturbable and resourceful bowler as one of the immortals of the art. M. A. Noble described Trumble’s approach to the wicket as “sidelong and insinuating, with his neck craned like a gigantic bird.” Lanky, with long bones, a prominent nose and large ears, Hugh Trumble was affectionately described by Sir Pelham Warner as “that great camel.”
These genetic traits have survived intact in the present generation.
A life member of the Melbourne Cricket Club, and club secretary from 1911 until his death, Hugh Trumble was a shrewd, genial, and popular administrator. While secretary, he oversaw the building of two new grandstands at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, now sadly superseded by the somewhat Neronian architecture of Daryl Jackson. He was a renowned story-teller, generous in his time with the press, and encouraging to young players. He was an inveterate letter-writer to The Times newspaper, usually on pressing current issues of international importance (and nothing other than cricket).
Survived by his wife, six sons and two daughters, Hugh Trumble died at home in Hawthorn on August 14, 1938, and was fashionably cremated. Memorabilia held by the Melbourne Cricket Club include his pipe, one of his imported stetsons, a caricature by Hal Gye, and a rather dour portrait by the artist A. E. (Peter) Newbury, who in 1922 married his niece, my grandfather’s sister, Ruth Compson Trumble (1892–1964).
A.D.B., substantially augmented and corrected.