MELBOURNE, Australia, March 12, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- When the definitive history of Australian cricket is finally written, one person will stand above all others as having had the most profound impact on the game and the players under his charge.
That person is not Sir Donald Bradman. It is a man whose quiet diplomacy and larrikin spirit, rather than his flamboyance with the bat, influenced future generations in a way that Bradman never did. That man is Bill Woodfull.
A remarkable collection of Bill Woodfull's memorabilia, with many items never been offered for public sale and which recall the difficult days of the 'Bodyline' tour, will be auctioned in Melbourne by Leski Auctions on March 27th.
The collection includes his 'Baggy Green' Test cap; a signed, match-worn and much-loved cricket bat from the 1926 Ashes series when he top scored with 151; photograph albums that are rare if not unique in their compilation, including images from the infamous 'Bodyline' tour; a cricket stump from the 5th Test in Sydney in 1933 during 'Bodyline'; and a collection of match-used cricket balls including two from 'Bodyline', one of which may have struck his heart. His family believed this permanently damaged his health resulting in an early death at the age of 67.
There are many stories about Woodfull which confirm his standing as the most admired Australian captain in the history of the game. Few eclipse the following exchange during the 'Bodyline' tour against the English in 1932-33. The English captain, Douglas Jardine, outraged that an Australian player had called him "a bastard", stormed into the Australian dressing room demanding an apology. Woodfull called the players to order and then, pointing at Jardine asked, "Which of you bastards called this bastard a bastard?" Needless to say, the low esteem between the teams dropped even further.
William Maldon Woodfull OBE was born in 1897 in central Victoria. His father was a Methodist preacher whose values were deeply embedded in his son. In late 1934, at the height of his career, Woodfull refused the offer of a knighthood for services to cricket (with its veiled reference to his actions during 'Bodyline'). Later in life he said, "Had I been awarded it for being an educationalist, I would have accepted it."
It's hard to imagine that any sportsman or woman today, with the pressures imposed by sponsors and media commitments, would turn down an award for excelling at sport.
He did accept an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1963 for services to education.
"This collection is a tribute to a remarkable and highly disciplined athlete and a proud Australian who took his men to 'war'," says Charles Leski. "Bodyline became a defining moment in the history of Australia and Britain, arguably the only time that relations between them came close to breaking point.
"Unlike Bradman, Woodfull was a man of the people. That was reflected in many ways, not the least of which being the partnership with fellow Victorian, Bill Ponsford, one of the most successful in the history of cricket."
There are 34 lots in the collection with pre-sale estimates ranging from $80 - $25,000. (NB: Image of the cricket balls and the stump available at: [http://www.livebidonline.com/classes/image.resizer.class.php?path=%2E%2E/catalogues/a418/images/0338&ext=jpg&width=700&height=700] [http://www.livebidonline.com/classes/image.resizer.class.php?path=%2E%2E/catalogues/a418/images/0347a&ext=jpg&width=700&height=700]
The lots will be offered for sale by Leski Auctions in Melbourne on Wednesday, March 27th at 5.00pm.
Leski Auctions is one of Australia's leading auctioneers of Sporting Memorabilia. The company is located at 13 Cato Street, Hawthorn East 3123 Australia. Tel +61-3-9864-9999 and www.leski.com.au
SOURCE Leski Auctions