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Jackson, Archibald (Archie) (1909–1933)

by Bede Nairn

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

Archibald (Archie) Jackson (1909-1933), cricketer, was born on 5 September 1909 at Rutherglen, Glasgow, Scotland, only son of Alexander Jackson, brickyard foreman, and his wife Margaret, née Gillespie. Alexander came to Australia in 1912 and his wife, two daughters and Archie arrived in Sydney on the Themistocles on 1 August 1913. They lived in a terrace-house at Balmain ('the 'main').

Jackson was educated at Birchgrove Public and Rozelle Junior Technical schools. He was captivated by sport when young and was dubbed 'Champ'; he excelled at soccer and cricket and represented the Public Schools' Amateur Athletic Association at both. He loved cricket and his delicate skill at the intricate game gave joy to his youth. Balmain was an ambiguous suburb in 1919-30, predominantly working class with some poverty; a coal-mine provided unstable work and pollution. But the district spread downhill to meet Sydney Harbour; Birchgrove Oval, near the Jackson home, edged the water. 'The 'main' was a golden place for juvenile cricketers. Jackson and his mates, especially Bill Hunt, sometimes 'crashed' the oval but often played on the streets, defying horse-drawn traffic and newfangled motor vehicles, breaking windows, and blocking drains to save the loss of precious balls. Of the carefree and talented team, Jackson and Hunt became Test players and two others first-class cricketers.

In the 1923-24 season Jackson, in short trousers and sandshoes, played in lower-grade sides of the Balmain Cricket Club. Next season, fitted out by Dr H. V. Evatt, he was promoted to first grade. He had gone to work as a messenger boy in 1924. A. A. Mailey helped to polish his natural batting artistry and he had long been attracted to A. F. Kippax's flowing style, with some worshipful contemplation of the legendary Victor Trumper. Jackson's 879 runs at 87.9 in 1926-27 was a club record. He was selected for the State side and his cricketing was facilitated by employment at Kippax's sports store. He scored his maiden century in first-class cricket against Queensland. Next season he scored a century in each innings against South Australia, and he toured New Zealand with the Australian team.

At 18 Jackson was a celebrated strokemaker at a time when big crowds savoured delicately placed late cuts and leg glances. He was the flowering of the 'Sydney school of batsmanship' founded by W. Caffyn in the nineteenth century. He was fair complexioned and good looking, gentle and modest. A Methodist, he neither smoked nor drank. Yet he was a sunny companion. The grace and precision of his batting matched his medium height and slender physique. His life rotated around cricket, but he had his off days, even when playing. There were early, furtive, signs of the tuberculosis that wasted his life.

Jackson reached his peak at 19 when, in Adelaide against England in February 1929, he played in his first Test match and scored a chanceless 164 runs in 368 minutes. He had opened the first innings with W. M. Woodfull; at one stage the score was 3 for 19. P. G. H. Fender said he made 'every conceivable stroke, [with] perfection of timing'. He was the toast of Australia. By then he had become the star of Anthony Hordern & Sons' sports department. Testimonials enabled him to buy a De Soto car and he helped his family to move up the harbour to a detached cottage at Drummoyne.

He was selected for the 1930 tour of England, but the weather and ill health constricted him, though he scored 1023 runs. The disease stalked him; he failed in the 1930-31 series against the West Indies and was dropped from the Australian side. Lung ravage was diagnosed in 1931 and Jackson went to a sanatorium in the Blue Mountains, later to a cottage there to be looked after by his sister Margaret. Seeking warmer weather, he went to Queensland in 1932, played some cricket and looked forward to the 1934 tour of England. But he died in Brisbane on 16 February 1933 and was buried in the Field of Mars cemetery, Sydney. He was unmarried.

Jackson's first-class batting average was 46.31; in Sheffield Shield 54.65; and against England (4 Tests) 58.33. His fourth-wicket partnership of 243 with (Sir) Donald Bradman at The Oval in 1930 still stands as an Australian Test record for that ground. He remains the youngest batsman to have scored a century in his first Test in Australia-England matches.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Buchanan (comp), Great Cricket Matches (Lond, 1962)
  • D. Frith, The Archie Jackson Story (Ashhurst, England, 1974)
  • Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 18 Jan 1929, 16 Feb 1933
  • Sun (Sydney), 16 Feb 1933
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 16 Feb 1933, 18 Feb 1983
  • Sun-Herald (Sydney), 24 Feb 1974
  • private information.

Citation details

Bede Nairn, 'Jackson, Archibald (Archie) (1909–1933)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/jackson-archibald-archie-6809/text11781, published in hardcopy 1983, accessed online 26 October 2014.

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

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