1909 - 1933
'Cricket's Tragic Genius'
Born in Rutherglen. Played cricket for Australia
© Rutherglen Heritage Society
Above, Archie Jackson.
Image credit: Alchetron
Rutherglen has been the birth place of many who have achieved prominence in distant parts of the world. One of these was Archie Jackson. He not only became a renowned sportsman but was a man who dealt courageously with adversity.
Archibald (Archie) Jackson was born in Rutherglen in 1909 and his parents, like many other contemporary Scots sought a new life overseas, emigrating to Australia in 1913. They settled in Balmain, a working-class suburb of Sidney involved in coal mining, engineering, metal working and shipbuilding.
As a young schoolboy Archie excelled in football and cricket. Such was his talent that, as a teenager he succeeded in joining the prestigious Balmain Cricket Club. The captain, Arthur Mailey recognised his talent and nurtured him so that by the age of of 15 he was playing in the first eleven.
He rapidly established a reputation as an outstanding batsman and at the age of 17 was selected to play for New South Wales against Queensland.
He continued to play in first class cricket and, in 1929 played for Australia in the test match against England at Adelaide aged 19. Partnering a young Don Bradman he excelled by scoring 164 runs before dismissal. Australians lionised the young man for this outstanding performance in his first test match.
He continued to impress his supporters but his career was interrupted by periods of ill health. Nonetheless, he was selected to represent Australia in the 1930 series of test matches in England. During the visit, he was plagued by ill health but, in the final test match he scored a creditable 73 runs.
Despite his disappointing performance, he was selected for a series of test matches against the West Indies and scored 70 runs in the first match. Thereafter his health deteriorated and his career in in first class cricket came to an end.
Right, Archie Jackson going out to bat at Worcester at the start of Australia's 1930 tour of England © Getty Images
He met and became engaged to Phyllis Thomas, a young ballet dancer. His health improved and he decided to participate in a series of exhibition cricket matches in North Queensland. The tour exhausted him but, despite this he agreed to represent New South Wales in a match against Queensland. But before the match he collapsed, coughing up blood and tuberculosis was diagnosed.
Against medical advice he continued his involvement in cricket but his health continued to deteriorate and while in Brisbane in 1933 he collapsed and died shortly after, aged only 23.
A train transported his body to Sydney where, at his funeral, thousands lined the streets. Pallbearers of his coffin were prominent Australian cricketers including Don Bradman. The simple inscription on his headstone reads, ‘He played the game’.
Renowned for his elegant batting style, Jackson played in a manner similar to the great Australian batsmen Victor Trumper, and Alan Kippax, Jackson's friend and mentor. His first-class career coincided with the early playing years of Don Bradman, with whom he was often compared.
Left, Archie Jackson holding a rather stylised batting pose!
Image credit: Alchetron
Above, Archie Jackson batting against England, 1930. Image credit: espncricinfo
Researched by Bill Maclennan
Links and sources:
Archie Jackson's Wikipedia page
Foreword by Harold Larwood to The Archie Jackson Story by David Frith. Larwood was the spearhead of the England attack on the infamous 1930s 'Bodyline' tour of Australia
Article on wisden.com about Archie Jackson's 1929 test debut innings of 164 against England in Adelaide.
Archie Jackson's entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography
See also: Archie Jackson: Cricket's Tragic Genius, by David Frith. Geoff Slattery Publishing Pty Ltd
YouTube video featuring archive footage of Archie Jackson in action.
Background photo of Archie Jackson at the crease.