Sunday, January 4, 2009

J. W. Trumble (1863–1944)

The following garrulous, unsigned, single-paragraph article about my great-grandfather, entitled “Mr. John William Trumble,” appeared on the front page of Cricket, Vol. 5, No. 119, on Thursday, May 27, 1886:

Of the thirteen cricketers forming the Melbourne Club Australian Team, Mr. Trumble is the youngest bar one. The junior of the party is Mr. Bruce, who completed his twenty-second year on Saturday last, and can claim an advantage in point of age of her comrade and great chum, though only to the extent of nine months. Born in Melbourne on Sept. 16, 1863, Mr. Trumble will reach the close of his twenty-third year just about the time he will be leaving England with the rest of the Australian cricketers, on their return to the Colonies. Educated at Melbourne University, Mr. Trumble threw in his lot with the South Melbourne Club, with which society has been closely and actively identified during his career. For some years past he has played a leading part in Victorian cricket, though it is only recently that he has figured in Inter-Colonial and representative matches. The season of 1882-83 is the first, as far as we can trace, in which he came out at all prominently, and the records of that summer credit him with more than one score of three figures. It was not, though, until the season before last that he really established his reputation as one of the foremost cricketers of Victoria. Since that time he has occupied a prominent position as one of the best all-round players in the Colony. The first Inter-Colonial match of 1884-85, begun on Boxing Day, saw him in excellent form, both with bat and ball. Going in first wicket, after a long stand by Messrs. Scott and McDonnell, he played excellent cricket, and in addition to a contribution of 87 to the Victorian total of 482, was instrumental in the dismissal of two wickets in the first innings of New South Wales, at a cost of twenty runs. This promising performance he followed up a week later, with another display of equal merit against the English team which visited Australia under the auspices of Shaw, Shrewsbury, and Lillywhite. The absence of the members of Murdoch’s Australian team from the combined eleven on that occasion, gave several of the younger players an opportunity of distinction, of which they were not slow to avail themselves. Mr. Trumble, in particular, proved his abilities unmistakably, and his score of 59 was not only the third in point of value, but one of the best innings of the match in merit. In the last of the engagements between Shaw’s Eleven and a Combined Team of Australia at the end of the English tour he was, too, again successful. Both with bat and ball he did good service, and in addition to two creditable scores of 34 not out and 10, he was credited with three English wickets at a cost of only fourteen runs. The return match between Victoria and New South Wales was also a success for him, and here again his all-round cricket was much above the average. Two excellent scores of 16 and 35 were credited to him, but his best performance was with the ball, and in the first innings of New South Wales he took six wickets for 84 runs. The organization of the Melbourne University Club compelled Mr. Trumble last season to give up his old love, South Melbourne, and the University eleven found in him one of their most reliable all-round players. As a batsman as well as a bowler, he maintained his reputation thoroughly, and several of his performances in both departments were particularly noteworthy. Mr. Scott and he were the two principal contributors to the long score made for Melbourne in the Inter-University match, and these two, indeed, were credited with 224 of the total of 346 from the bat, of which Mr. Scott subscribed no less than 168. Meanwhile, he had done an excellent performance with the ball for his University against the Richmond Club, five of whose wickets he had taken at a cost of only eight runs. Though only moderately successful in the two Inter-Colonial matches, his all-round cricket was good enough to give him a position among the probable candidates for a place in the Fifth Australian team, organized under the auspices of the Melbourne Club. His chances were regarded as a little doubtful, but an excellent performance in the test match against the Victorian eleven made his position secure. A capital innings of forty was his contribution to the Australian total of 375, but this was not his only credential, and indeed, his bowling was even more noteworthy. His analysis in the first innings of the Victorian eleven was remarkable. At one period, he sent down no less than nineteen maiden overs, and in all he delivered 120 balls (25 maidens), for seven runs and one wicket. So far, Mr. Trumble has taken part in two of the three matches played by the Australian team in England, and in these he has not been very successful, though the same remark will apply to the majority of the team. He has, in fact, still to make his mark on English grounds, and for this reason the best comments on his play will be those of a writer who knows his form well on Australian soil. “Felix,” a practical and capable critic, in the Australasian, in comparing the qualifications of various candidates for the Australian team, speaks highly of Mr. Trumble’s abilities as a cricketer. “Trumble,” he says, “is good enough for any team in Australia. He watches the ball well, has an excellent defense, can hit hard when he feels so disposed, and can adapt himself to circumstances well as most batsmen. Apart from his excellence as a batsman, his bowling capabilities are of a high class, and it is my conviction that he would distinguish himself in more than one match in the old country in this department of the game.” Mr. Trumble, I may add, bowls slow round-arm, with a high delivery. He is a lawyer by profession, and intends, we believe, immediately on his return to Australia, to commence practice.

J.W. Trumble and his younger brother Hugh (q.v.) were both introduced to cricket by their father, William (q.v.), who was a slow leg-break bowler, and played for South Melbourne in the time of J. S. (“Jack”) Swift, who taught the Trumble boys on a patch of land by the Yarra at Kew.

The two brothers were chosen to play together for Victoria against the visiting English XI in March, 1887. In that season and the following one, i.e. 1887-88, they played together against New South Wales, South Australia, and G. F. Vernon’s English XI. This was the tail end of J. W.’s brief cricketing career, but only the very beginning of Hugh’s more stellar one.

Thereafter J. W. Trumble seems to have assumed the role of senior statesman, commentator, inveterate correspondent to the newspapers on cricketing matters, and something of a fixer, easily securing tickets to Lords Cricket Ground for visiting colonists, while Hugh became the star sportsman, and, much later, the full-time professional administrator, and club secretary.

In 1928, my great-grandfather was still writing to The Times newspaper with copious recollections of F. R. Spofforth, whom he described as “the World’s Best Bowler,” but his opinions were evidently considered worthy of leading articles in the Argus, as on New Year’s Day 1904, when they ran his “Views on the Problem of Disputed Decisions in Cricket.”

According to the Argus, Mr. J. W. Trumble’s proposed remedy for the nuisance of Sydney crowds, who were beginning to take up a discreditable, hostile, and insulting attitude towards the umpire,

is one that demands a high standard of behaviour from cricketers, and of loyalty to the game. All decisions should, he says, be accepted instantly, and without question, or any appearance of resentment, and then the susceptible and excitable crowd [even a Sydney crowd] will find no excuse for its attack upon the umpire.

Ill health may have caused J. W. Trumble’s premature retirement from first class cricket.

His son Jack, who evidently suffered from infantile paralysis, later recalled that an eminent doctor called Sir Colin Mackenzie visited the family in Nhill, and advised J. W. to sail with his family to Europe to seek better care and treatment. Auntie Winkie was born in London while the family was staying there.

Upon resuming his legal practice in Nhill, J. W. Trumble set up the local Golf Club, having been bitten by that particular bug whilst holiday-making in France, of all places.

Both J. W. and Hugh Trumble regularly went back to England, and witnessed the famous bodyline series at Lord’s in 1932, and returned the following year. They were familiar fixtures, sitting together in the committee box at the Melbourne Cricket Club.

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