Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Oldfield, William Albert Stanley (Bert) (1894–1976)

by R. I. Cashman

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

William Albert Stanley Oldfield (1894-1976), by Sam Hood, 1932

William Albert Stanley Oldfield (1894-1976), by Sam Hood, 1932

State Library of New South Wales, Home and Away - 2358

William Albert Stanley (Bert) Oldfield (1894-1976), cricketer, was born on 9 September 1894 at Alexandria, Sydney, seventh child of John William Oldfield, Manchester-born upholsterer, and his wife Mary, née Gregory, from Yass. Bert was educated at Newtown and Cleveland Street Superior Public schools and became a tramways clerk.

After playing in the Churches Cricket Union competition, Oldfield joined Glebe as a batsman. When the regular wicket-keeper did not turn up to a game he took over permanently. By 1914 he had played twice for the first-grade side; he was also club secretary in 1915. Enlisting in the Australian Imperial Force on 7 September 1915, Oldfield served with the 15th Field Ambulance. In France, he narrowly escaped death at Polygon Wood; he was found, semi-conscious and partly buried, hours after a bombardment. An injury to wicket-keeper Ted Long enabled Oldfield to play with the A.I.F. cricket team that toured England and South Africa in 1919.

Selected for New South Wales in 1919-20, Oldfield played in three Tests in the 1920-21 series. After serving as understudy to Hanson Carter until 1922, he became Australia's keeper until 1938, missing only one Test. He toured England in 1921, 1926, 1930 and 1934; South Africa in 1921-22 and 1935-36; and New Zealand in 1927-28.

Oldfield stumped 52 of the 130 batsmen he dismissed in 54 Tests, a surviving international record for stumpings and their proportion to catches. His most celebrated stumping was achieved off fast-medium bowler Jack Ryder in 1925, when he brilliantly dismissed Hobbs down the leg side. He took his best Test catch in the same series when he moved yards to intercept a leg glance from Hobbs. Oldfield was a useful lower-order batsman, accumulating 1427 Test runs at an average of 22.65 and scoring six first-class centuries.

A short, dapper man, he was punctilious in his preparation: before keeping he taped his finger joints which were then covered with stalls and two pairs of chamois inner gloves. Oldfield also studied bowlers at the nets carefully, noted weaknesses of opposition batsmen and observed carefully the ground and weather conditions. Neat and quiet, he was known as the 'gentleman in gloves' because his appeals were modest and only when he believed a batsman was out. He disapproved of 'bodyline' bowling, but shouldered the blame himself for ducking into a 'fair ball' bowled by Harold Larwood in the Adelaide Test of 1933, which fractured his skull. Oldfield shared a testimonial match with Alan Kippax in 1949 which netted over £6000. Later he organized several overseas schoolboy tours. He published reminiscences, Behind the Wicket (1938) and The Rattle of the Stumps (1954).

Oldfield became a successful businessman; his sports store in Sydney, W. A. Oldfield Pty Ltd, opened in 1922. At St Jude's Anglican Church, Randwick, he married Ruth Maud Hunter, daughter of a company director, on 23 March 1929. A non-smoker and teetotaller, Oldfield was a sidesman at St Martin's Anglican Church, Killara, for some four decades; he was also a Freemason. In World War II he was commissioned lieutenant in the 17th Battalion on 23 November 1939. Serving mainly on the staff of Eastern Command Headquarters until 1942, he was promoted captain in 1941 and major in 1943 and was with the amenities service until 1946. He was appointed M.B.E. in 1970.

Survived by his wife and two daughters, Oldfield died on 10 August 1976 at his Killara home and was buried in Rookwood cemetery. His estate was valued for probate at $234,368.

Select Bibliography

  • R. Robinson, From the Boundary (Syd, 1950)
  • R. Cardwell, The A.I.F. Cricket Team (Syd, 1980)
  • J. Pollard, Australian Cricket (Syd, 1982)
  • J. Pollard, After Stumps Were Drawn (Syd, 1985)
  • Reveille (Sydney), 1 Dec 1939, p 14, 50.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

R. I. Cashman, 'Oldfield, William Albert Stanley (Bert) (1894–1976)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/oldfield-william-albert-stanley-bert-7900/text13737, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 19 October 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (MUP), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2017

William Albert Stanley Oldfield (1894-1976), by Sam Hood, 1932

William Albert Stanley Oldfield (1894-1976), by Sam Hood, 1932

State Library of New South Wales, Home and Away - 2358