Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Ransford, Vernon Seymour (1885–1958)

by Peter Pierce

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

Vernon Seymour Ransford (1885-1958), cricketer and cricket administrator, was born on 20 March 1885 at South Yarra, Melbourne, son of Henry Fowler Ransford, clerk, and his wife Lydia, née Blazey, both Melbourne born. Educated at Hawthorn College, he was coached by the English professional cricketer Harry Carpenter. In February 1904 Ransford made his début for the Victorian team that was dismissed by England for 15. Next season he made 152 against Queensland, the first of 13 centuries for Victoria, topping the State batting averages as he did again four times. After touring New Zealand with Victoria he played in five Tests against England in 1907-08. His best scores were 51 and 54 in the fourth Test in Melbourne. Next summer he scored a century in each innings against New South Wales in Sydney.

Touring England in the very wet summer of 1909, Ransford was second to Warren Bardsley in the first-class aggregates and top of the Test averages with 353 runs at 58.83; he played a match-winning innings of 143 not out at Lord's. On the same ground against the Marylebone Cricket Club that year he made his highest score of 190. In the home series against South Africa in 1910-11 Ransford scored four fifties and took his only Test wicket, bowling J. W. Zulch for 150. Selected for the tour of England in 1912, he withdrew, with Warwick Armstrong, Albert Cotter, Clement Hill, Victor Trumper and H. Carter in protest against the replacement of Frank Laver as manager. Instead he represented Victoria at baseball; Jack Ryder was in the same team. Adjoining ovals at Parkville were later named after them. Suffering from ill health and the effects of injuries, Ransford nonetheless played for Victoria until 1925-26, when he retired with a first-class record of 8268 runs at 42.4 and 25 centuries, and a Test record of 1211 runs at 37.84.

Elected to the committee of the Melbourne Cricket Club in 1913, Ransford was made a life member in 1931 and succeeded Hugh Trumble as secretary in February 1939, defeating a large field which included (Sir) Donald Bradman. Secretary until he retired because of illness in April 1957, Ransford was later praised by the committee for his 'zeal, dignity and tact'. His 'courtesy and friendliness' were exercised during World War II when the Melbourne Cricket Ground became a staging camp for American forces, who changed its name in his honour from Camp Murphy to Camp Ransford. Ransford was appointed O.B.E. in 1954.

According to Alban 'Johnny' Moyes, Ransford, a left-handed batsman, showed 'a touch of brilliance and fought on pluckily', as well as being 'a superlative outfield'. Keith Dunstan called him 'a Neil Harvey who came 40 years earlier … a man with an impatient streak of brilliance, one who could let loose in a gale of run-getting'. He was particularly strong driving on either side of the wicket, yet he tempered this aggression for the four hours of his greatest innings in the Lord's Test of 1909.

Predeceased by his wife Ethel Colina (Dolly), née Macrow, whom he had married at Camberwell on 27 April 1910, Ransford died, childless, at his Brighton home on 19 March 1958. He was buried with Anglican rites in Brighton cemetery. His portrait by Rex Bramleigh hangs in the Long Room of the members' stand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Select Bibliography

  • A. G. Moyes, Australian Cricket (Syd, 1959)
  • K. Dunstan, The Paddock that Grew (Melb, 1962)
  • R. G. Menzies, The Measure of the Years (Melb, 1970)
  • C. Martin-Jenkins, The Complete Who's Who of Test Cricketers (Adel, 1980)
  • J. Pollard, Australian Cricket (Syd, 1982)
  • Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, 1959
  • Herald (Melbourne), 19 Jan 1939, 5 Apr 1957, 20 Mar 1958
  • Age (Melbourne), 6 Apr 1957, 20 Mar 1958
  • Sporting Globe, 22 Mar 1958.

Citation details

Peter Pierce, 'Ransford, Vernon Seymour (1885–1958)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/ransford-vernon-seymour-8158/text14257, published in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 31 October 2014.

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

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