Vale Colin McDonald (1928-2021)

It is with great sadness that we note the passing of former player, Colin McDonald, on Friday 8 January 2021 after a long illness. He was aged 92, and had hitherto held the title of Brighton’s oldest living cricketer.

Along with Shane Warne and George ‘Joey’ Palmer, Colin was the most decorated and illustrious cricketer to have represented the Brighton Cricket Club. Prior to his time at the club, Colin played 47 Test for Australia from his debut in 1951-52 against the West Indies to his retirement after the Australians’ 1961 tour of England. He scored 3,107 runs for his country at an average of 39.32, with five centuries and a highest score of 170.

During his ten years in Test cricket, Colin held down the difficult opening spot and played the sheet anchor role to great effect in a sometimes brittle Australian batting line up. He contended with the great fast bowlers of the era, including England’s Tyson, Statham and Trueman, South Africa’s Heine and Adcock, and the express pace of Wes Hall from the West Indies. He was a courageous and determined opening batsman, as you needed to be to face Test bowlers of extreme pace without the protection of a helmet. Especially strong off the back foot, he favoured the back and square cuts, and was quick on his feet against the spinners. He had that gift, possessed by only the best of batsmen, of being able to adjust his shot late and ease the ball into gaps in the field.

Brighton was lucky enough to secure Colin’s services just two years after his retirement from Test cricket when, after a year out of the game, he was talked into a comeback in 1963–64 by club president and friend Bill Easton. Playing at Brighton at that time were his former Victorian teammates Dave Kerr and Lew Carter, whilst his ex-Australian teammate Jack Iverson – whom Colin rated second only to Warne as the best spin bowler he saw – had only just retired.

After a slightly subdued start, Colin made three centuries in his first season at Brighton. He scored consistently during his five years with the club, winning three batting averages and scoring seven centuries in all. He finished with a career total of 2,140 runs at an average of 35.08 from 59 games.  During season 1968–69 he sold his insurance broking business and moved to Cairns, ending his time at Brighton.

Colin had a lot of respect for Sub-District cricket and regarded it as being of a high standard, both during his playing days and beyond. He was a frequent attendee at past player reunions at Brighton and would, when invited, regale those present with his thoughts on the game and stories from his time as a player for both Australia and Brighton. His presence at such functions will be missed by all at Brighton, and the club extends its sympathies to his family.