Sport Cricket Former Test spinner John Gleeson dies

Former Test spinner John Gleeson dies

Australian spin bowler John Gleeson in action in 1970. Photo: Getty
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Former Australian Test cricketer John Gleeson has died aged 78.

Gleeson played 29 Tests for Australia between 1967 and 1972, having made his debut for Australia in the 1967/68 Test series against India, finishing with 93 Test wickets at an average of 36.20.

“He’s sadly passed away in the Tamworth hospital, aged 78,” former Australia captain Ian Chappell announced to viewers during Channel Nine’s broadcast of an interstate match.

Gleeson was an unorthodox spin bowler. “The folded finger-spinner they called him,” Chappell said. “He came from Tamworth, started out his cricket life as a wicketkeeper and he fiddled around flicking these balls … I think he started with a table tennis ball, and developed into a very fine finger spinner.

“I spoke to him the other day, he’d come to grips with his situation and his last words were to me, ‘Don’t fret, mate, I’m in good shape’.”

Gleeson’s first-class career came to an end at the SCG against Victoria in January 1973, after 116 matches. He had taken 430 wickets at an average of 24.95.

“John captured the imagination of cricket fans everywhere as he bamboozled batsmen with his odd bowling grip, borrowed from another mystery Australian spinner, Jack Iverson,” Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland said.

“We were deeply saddened to hear of John’s passing and are truly appreciative of his contribution to the game, which, beyond his distinguished playing career, included time as an administrator with World Series Cricket.

“As a cricketer, he will be remembered as someone who played for his country at the highest level and, with his unique skills, had the ability to regularly dumbfound the best batsmen in any team.”

-with AAP