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"Australian Cricket" George John Bonnor (image plate from Vanity Fair)
, 1884

by Carlo Pellegrini

chromolithograph (sheet: 38.0 cm x 26.5 cm)

George Bonnor (1855–1912), cricketer, made his debut for Australia in the first official Test match between Australia and England, held at The Oval in September 1880. The so-called ‘Australian Hercules’ and ‘Bathurst Giant’ – he was six foot six and weighed seventeen stone – started playing club cricket in Sydney in the late 1870s and represented both Victoria and New South Wales at state level. In all, he played seventeen Test matches for Australia and was a member of the side that defeated England at The Oval in August 1882, initiating ‘The Ashes’ Test series. Bonnor was noted for his fielding, specifically his ability to throw a cricket ball a distance of 100 yards, and was also considered the game’s biggest hitter, on one occasion in 1880 hitting the ball so high that he completed three runs before being caught out. He retired from first class cricket in 1891, having scored 4,820 runs at an average of 21.23. He died in Orange, New South Wales, in June 1912, one obituary describing him as ‘one of the most attractive figures seen on any cricket field in the world. For a man of such gigantic proportion his activity was astounding’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2013
Accession number: 2013.17