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Gregory, Jack Morrison (1895–1973)

by B. G. Andrews

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

Jack Morrison Gregory (1895-1973), cricketer, was born on 14 August 1895 at North Sydney, third son and sixth child of native-born parents Charles Smith Gregory (1847-1935), accountant, and his wife Jessie Anne, née Morrison. The Gregorys were long established in Australian cricket. Jack was educated in 1907-12 at Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore), where he showed promise as a hurdler. He was a lower grade player with the North Sydney Cricket Club when he enlisted as an artillery gunner in the Australian Imperial Force in January 1916. Promoted sergeant in December, second lieutenant in September 1918 and lieutenant in December, he had two tours of duty in France. In 1919 he joined the A.I.F. cricket team in England.

Under the leadership of H. L. Collins, Gregory developed into an all-rounder whose spectacular hitting was matched by fearsome fast bowling and prehensile slip fielding. On the A.I.F. tour of England and South Africa in 1919-20 he scored 1352 runs at 31 and took 178 wickets at just under 17. The team returned to Australia to play their last matches; Gregory scored a stunning century in each innings and took eight wickets against New South Wales.

Discharged from the A.I.F. in March 1920, Gregory played a leading part next summer in the recovery of the Ashes from England, with 442 runs at 73 in the five matches, including a century at Melbourne, 23 wickets at 24, and 15 catches. Touring England in 1921 under the captaincy of Warwick Armstrong, Gregory and E. A. McDonald formed the first major opening bowling partnership based on speed. The explosive action of Gregory complemented perfectly the smoothness of McDonald. Between them they took 46 of the 71 English wickets that fell to bowlers in the Test matches; in first-class matches Gregory took 116 wickets at 16, scored 1135 runs at 36, and was named among Wisden's cricketers of the year. En route home, he scored a century against South Africa in seventy minutes which has remained the fastest century in Test cricket.

After 1922 Gregory was hampered by injuries and diverted by work commitments and other sporting interests. He did not play in the 1922-23 or 1923-24 seasons, but returned for the Test matches in 1924-25; used as a stock bowler, he took 22 wickets at 37. In the 1925-26 season, now playing for Paddington, he topped the Sydney first-grade averages with 34 wickets at 13 and was chosen for the 1926 tour of England, but took only three Test wickets. After this tour, he played little cricket. In December 1928 he broke down with a knee injury in the first Test against England and retired. In 24 Test matches he had taken 85 wickets at 31, made 1146 runs at just under 37, and taken 37 catches. In first-class cricket his figures were 504 wickets at 21 and 5661 runs at 36.

Gregory stood well over six feet (183 cm), was strongly built and, although possessed of an outswinger, relied more for his effect on pace and bounce. As a left-handed batsman, he attacked the bowling and scorned protective gear like gloves, cap and box. A popular figure wherever he played, he was seen as a symbol of Australian manhood in the years after World War I. In 1936 he shared a benefit match with Warren Bardsley.

At Launceston, Tasmania, on 26 June 1928, Gregory had married Phyllis Ethel von Alwyn, 'Miss Australia' for 1927, who had appeared at an Atlantic City pageant in the United States of America. They lived at Woollahra until the early 1950s. He had joined Kavanagh & English Pty Ltd, sheet metal manufacturers, in the mid-1920s and was a director by 1928. A trustee of the Sydney Cricket Ground in 1947-65, he was a member of the Royal Motor Yacht Club. In retirement at Narooma he fished and played bowls. Predeceased by his wife, he died at Bega on 7 August 1973 and was cremated with Anglican rites; he was survived by a son and daughter. His estate was valued for probate at $43,386.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Barker and I. Rosenwater, England v Australia: A Compendium of Test Cricket Between the Countries 1877-1968 (Melb, 1969)
  • R. Mason, Warwick Armstrong's Australians (Lond, 1971)
  • D. Frith, The Fast Men (Lond, 1975)
  • P. Derriman, The Grand Old Ground (Syd, 1981)
  • New South Wales Cricket Association, Annual Report, 1914-15
  • Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, 1920-29
  • Australian Cricket, Oct 1973
  • Mercury (Hobart), 27 June 1928
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Feb, 18 July, 24 Nov 1923, 5 Dec 1928, 10 Oct 1936, 14 Oct 1947, 16 Aug 1965, 8 Aug 1973.

Citation details

B. G. Andrews, 'Gregory, Jack Morrison (1895–1973)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/gregory-jack-morrison-6478/text11099, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 17 December 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 9, (MUP), 1983

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