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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hill, Clement (Clem) (1877–1945)

by John A. Daly

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

Clem Hill, postcard, n.d.

Clem Hill, postcard, n.d.

National Museum of Australia, 2642

Clement (Clem) Hill (1877-1945), cricketer, was born on 18 March 1877 in Adelaide, South Australia, third son in a family of sixteen children of Henry John Hill and his wife Rebecca Eliza, née Saunders. His father and six of his brothers played cricket for South Australia and a sister played in an Adelaide ladies' team. Clem played football (for South Adelaide and the State), tennis, golf and bowls, but his fame in cricket eclipsed all else. Alban 'Johnny' Moyes assessed him as 'one of Australia's four greatest batsmen' with Victor Trumper, Charles Macartney and Don Bradman: 'a superb player, the finest left-hander ever … shortish, thickset, powerful … swift on his feet, a master of attack and of defence'.

Educated at Prince Alfred College, Hill played his first intercollegiate match at 13, 'keeping wicket and batting at number ten'. He scored 360 retired in the annual match against The Collegiate School of St Peter in 1893—a schoolboy record which bettered Joe Darling's and which still stands. At 17 he was named in the South Australian team and scored 155 against the Englishmen. He was included in the Australian side to tour England in 1896 and remained a regular selection in the national team until 1912.

During his first-class career Hill scored 17,216 runs at an average of 43.47 and made 45 centuries and many nineties. He played 49 Tests for Australia (3412 runs at an average of 39.21), captaining the team in the 1910-11 and 1911-12 series. His best innings was probably in the fourth Test of the 1897-98 series: Australia was 6 for 58 when Hill and Hugh Trumble made an unbeaten seventh wicket partnership of 165 to win the match. Hill was also a brilliant fieldsman and in the Old Trafford Test of 1902 took what many cricket historians consider to be the finest catch ever.

Although reputed to be 'of a jolly disposition', during the 1911-12 series he was involved in a 'punch-up' with fellow selector Peter McAlister over the selection of players and the right of the newly formed Australian Board of Control for International Cricket Matches to appoint a manager, six senior players having unsuccessfully demanded a manager elected from and by the players. Hill blackened McAlister's eye at the widely publicized selectors' meeting and the six—Hill, Warwick Armstrong, Trumper, Albert Cotter, Vernon Ransford and Hanson Carter—declined to tour with the team to England. For Hill it was virtually the end of a splendid career: after the war he played again, briefly, for South Australia.

Hill had served an engineering apprenticeship in the government workshops at Islington but on retirement he became a stipendiary steward to the South Australian Jockey Club and later a handicapper. In 1937 he moved to Melbourne as handicapper to the Victoria Amateur Turf Club. He resigned in 1943 because of ill health and became a handicapper for the Geelong Racing Club. He died of heart disease on 5 September 1945 in Melbourne. His wife Florence Mary Clewer, née Hart, whom he had married on 17 January 1905 at Launceston, Tasmania, had died in 1938 and a son had died in infancy. Two daughters survived him. He was buried in North Road cemetery, Adelaide.

Select Bibliography

  • A. G. Moyes, Australian Cricket (Syd, 1959)
  • S. Downer, 100 Not Out (Adel, 1972)
  • C. Martin Jenkins, The Complete Who's Who of Test Cricketers (Adel, 1980)
  • Parade, Mar 1960
  • Town and Country Journal, 29 Jan 1908
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 6 Sept 1945
  • Daily Mirror (Sydney), 8 Sept 1978.

Additional Resources

Citation details

John A. Daly, 'Hill, Clement (Clem) (1877–1945)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 27 October 2020.

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

View the front pages for Volume 9

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