William ‘Billy’ Midwinter

 

 

William Evans “Billy” Midwinter is unique amongst Test cricketers in that he played for Australia against England and also for England against Australia. Born in St Briavels in the Forest of Dean, the Midwinter family, William John, his wife Rebecca and their three children, William, Jane and John emigrated to Australia in 1861. They settled in Sandhurst on the Bendigo goldfields where William senior mined for gold and eventually became a butcher. Young Billy began his senior cricket career in the late 1860s with the Bendigo United Cricket Club alongside a teenaged Harry Boyle who would also go on to play for Australia. Progressing to play for Victoria in Inter-Colonial matches, he was selected to play for Australia in what became recognised as the first ever Test Match against England. More importantly, in terms of his Gloucestershire upbringing, in the winter of 1873/74 WG Grace had taken a team out to Australia and in two games that they played against Victoria, Billy had played for the home team. In the second game played at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March 1874 he had the great pleasure of taking the wicket of WG, bowled for 64.

At the beginning of 1877 he returned to England and during that season turned out for the county of his birth The 1878 season saw the Australians touring England and, having played a number of early season games for representative teams, Billy joined up with the tourists, playing in all their games until, due to turn out for them at Lord’s against Middlesex, he was “persuaded” by WG that his duty was to be playing for Gloucestershire in their opening game of the season against Surrey at The Oval. He took no further part in the tour. He remained in England until the end of the 1880 season when he returned to Australia. From then until 1882 he spent his summers in England and his winters in Australia playing year-round cricket. During the winter of 1881/82 he played in four Test Matches for England against Australia. His final season for Gloucestershire was in 1882 after which he took up permanent residence in Australia. In February 1883, less than twelve months after he had played for England against Australia at Melbourne, he was playing for Australia against England at Sydney. He did return to England for one final tour with the Australians in 1884 playing in three further Test Matches and also against Gloucestershire at Clifton and at Cheltenham. A further two Test Matches against the English tourists in January and February 1887 and a match against them for Victoria in March of the same year, saw the end of his cricket career.

An unsuccessful foray into stockbroking saw him concentrating on running various hotels in the Melbourne area. Family tragedy struck in 1888 and 1889 when first his ten-month old daughter Elsie died of pneumonia, followed eight months later by the loss of his wife,Elizabeth, of apoplexy and three months later his threeyear old son also passed away. He gave up all his business interests and returned to live with his sister in Sandhurst where the family had originally settled. His mood became such that he became violent and was removed to hospital in Bendigo and ultimately to the Kew Asylum in Melbourne where he became partly paralysed and had very few lucid moments. It was said, however, that his face would light up at the mention of the name WG Grace and that he would respond to his old friend from his teenage years, his fellow Bendigo cricketer Harry Boyle. He died in the Asylum at Kew on 3 December 1890 at the age of 39.

William Evans “Billy” Midwinter Born 19 June 1851 Died 3 December 1890

 

For Gloucestershire   In his career
58 Matches160 matches
1605 runs Average 20.06 4534 runs Average 19.13
Highest Score 107 not out  Highest Score 137 not out   
419 wickets Average 17.41231 wickets Average 15.89
For England   For Australia
4 Matches8 matches
95 runs Average 13.57174 runs Average 13.38
Highest Score 36  Highest Score 37  
0 wickets Average 27.20  14 wickets Average 23.78
Australian Team 1884
Australians 1884 JM Blackham HJH Scott L Greenwood (Umpire) WE Midwinter PS McDonnell G Alexander G Giffen HF Boyle WL Murdoch GJ Bonnor GE Palmer
AC Bannerman FR Spofforth

 

Gloucestershire and the Australians at Clifton September 5th – 7th 1878 WO Moberly Rev. P Hattersley-Smith RF Miles F Townsend FE Allan W Boyle TW Garrett JA Bush A Bannerman T Horan WG Grace DW Gregory EM Grace C Bannerman WL Murdoch JM Blackham J Cranston F Spofforth EF Wright GF Grace WR Gilbert
(Note the absence of Billy Midwinter from either side)

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