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"The Demon Bowler" Frederick Robert Spofforth (image plate from Vanity Fair)
, 1878

by Sir Leslie Ward

chromolithograph (sheet: 39.0 cm x 26.0 cm)

Frederick Robert Spofforth (1853–1926), cricketer, was a member of the Australian cricket team whose defeat of England at The Oval in 1882 brought about ‘The Ashes’ Test series. Born in Balmain, Spofforth started playing club cricket in 1871, was first selected for NSW in 1874, and made his Test debut in 1877. He earned the moniker ‘The Demon’ in 1878 when, as a member of the touring Australian side, he took ten wickets for 20 runs in a match against the Marylebone Cricket Club. Selected for Australia again in 1880 and every year from 1882 to 1887, Spofforth played eighteen Test matches in all, finishing his career with 94 Test wickets at an average of 18.41. He is considered Australia’s first fast bowler, and is also credited with having taken the first ever Test bowling hat-trick (against England in Melbourne in 1879). After retiring from international cricket, he became a bank manager, married, and lived in England, where he contributed occasionally to cricket books and developed an interest in botany and horticulture.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2015
Accession number: 2015.5