William Maldon "Bill" Woodfull OBE (22 August 1897 – 11 August 1965) was an Australian cricketer of the 1920s and 1930s. He captained both Victoria and Australia, and was best known for his dignified and moral conduct during the tumultuous bodyline series in 1932–33 that almost saw the end of Anglo-Australian cricketing ties. Trained as a schoolteacher, Woodfull was known for his benevolent attitude towards his players, and his patience and defensive technique as an opening batsman. Woodfull was not a flamboyant player, but was known for his calm, unruffled style and his reliability in difficult situations. His opening pairing with fellow Victorian Bill Ponsford for both his state and Australia remains one of the most successful in history. While not known for his tactical skills, Woodfull was widely admired by his players and observers for his sportsmanship and ability to mould a successful and loyal team through the strength of his character.
Woodfull started playing cricket from a young age, but did not distinguish himself in his youth. He did make his debut in Melbourne's district competition until the age of 19, and his progress was interrupted by a posting as a schoolteacher to a country town. After returning to Melbourne in 1921, he came to the attention of the state selectors, and made his first-class debut for Victoria at the age of 24 late in the 1921–22. After scoring a century in his second match, Woodfull was promoted to open the following season, and he opened for the rest of his career. In his first four seasons at first-class level, he accumulated over 3,000 first-class runs at an average beyond 65. At the end of the 1924–25 season, Woodfull scored 522 runs in four innings, including three centuries. After scoring three centuries, including a 236, in 1925–26, he was selected for the 1926 tour of England.
Regarded as one of the last players selected, Woodfull scored a double century and century in his first two innings in England to earn his debut in the first Test. He played in each Test, scoring two centuries. Woodfull made eight centuries during the tour and topped the Australian averages and was named one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year.
Upon returning to Australia, Woodfull established his partnership with Ponsford, and in 1926–27 Shield season, they put on a record-breaking 375-run opening stand, setting up a world record first-class team score of 1107. Woodfull averaged 69.00 for the season, and both he and Ponsford averaged over 125 the following summer, overwhelming opposition bowlers and helping Victoria win the Sheffield Shield easily. Woodfull was appointed as vice-captain to Jack Ryder for the 1928–29 home Ashes series following a spate of retirements. Woodfull carried his bat in a record-breaking first Test defeat. Although England easily won 4–1, Woodfull stood firm to score three centuries in the last four Tests, and added his best first-class score for 275 not out in a tour match against the Englishmen. The following season, Woodfull's campaign was truncated by a hand injury.
Woodfull reluctantly became captain in 1930 when Jack Ryder was dropped, and his team was derided as the worst Australian squad to tour England. It was the youngest squad to leave Australia, and only four of the fifteen players had prior experience in England, prompting commentators to label the team "Woodfull's kindegarten".〔 After losing the first Test, Woodfull scored a century as Australia levelled the series and they won the fifth Test to regain the Ashes. Woodfull ended the tour with six first-class centuries. In 1930–31 Woodfull broke up his combination with Ponsford and dropped down the order to accommodate Archie Jackson in the Tests against the West Indies. The Australian captain struggled in his unfamiliar role, scoring 204 runs at 34.00 for the series, which Australia won 4–1. The following season, restored to his customary position, Woodfull had his most successful Test series in his career, against South Africa, scoring 421 runs at 70.17, including his Test highest score of 161; Australia won all five Tests.
In 1932–33, great controversy erupted during England's tour of Australia. The visitors, captained by Douglas Jardine, used bodyline tactics—persistently aiming at the upper bodies and heads of the Australian batsmen in the hope of stifling the hosts' strong batting line-up. The Australian public and cricket community abhorred the tactic, but Woodfull refused to retaliate or complain publicly, despite some of his players wanting to do so. After the first Test, which Australia lost heavily, Woodfull was not confirmed as captain until just before the start of the next match, prompting speculation that the Australian Board of Control might remove him for refusing to retaliate. The controversy peaked during the third Test at the Adelaide Oval. Woodfull was felled by a blow to the heart, almost provoking a riot. After Woodfull was dismissed, English manager Plum Warner came to privately express his sympathy, to which Woodfull famously replied "I do not want to see you, Mr Warner. There are two teams out there. One is playing cricket and the other is not."〔〔〔〔 The comment was leaked to the media and caused an uproar, after a teammate suffered a fractured skull, the Australian Board formally complained to English administrators about whether bodyline was sporting. This prompted threats of a trade boycott and a tour cancellation, so the Australian Board retracted. England completed a convincing 4–1 victory, but Woodfull was much praised for his stoic public behaviour. The Australian captain batted for 20 hours during the series, defying the bruising bowling for a longer time than any of his compatriots.
In 1934, Woodfull led the Australians back to England for a tour that was to mend relations after assurances had been given that bodyline would not be repeated. The Australians won 2–1, and Woodfull remains the only first captain to regain the Ashes twice. Woodfull was criticised for adopting excessively cautious tactics after the advent of bodyline. Woodfull retired after the tour; his family claimed that the bodyline controversy had sapped his passion for cricket. The British king offered Woodfull a knighthood for his services to cricket, and in reference to his actions during the bodyline series, but Woodfull declined, stating that his work as a teacher was far more important than cricket. A mathematics teacher, Woodfull went on to become headmaster at his alma mater, Melbourne High School.
Woodfull batted in a manner which had little aesthetic pleasure or grace, with Wisden describing stating that "at first sight, he gave the impression of being clumsy".〔 Affected by a bout of rheumatic fever in childhood, he had stiff-jointed style, and played with little noticeable backlift. This gave the impression of a laboured playing style. Despite this, he scored consistently through good placement and powerful drives generated by his strong forearms. Despite his leaden appearance, he often advanced down the pitch to spin bowling.〔 He was known for playing with a straight bat and a close watch on the ball, which were the core features of a strong defensive ability. He typically took block on leg stump and shuffled across to cover his stumps. His defensive prowess yielded names such as "the unbowlable" (a reference to the fact that he was rarely bowled as a result of missing the ball) and "wormkiller".〔 The latter epithet was given to him by English bowlers who said that his backlift was so small that it was only enough to decapitate worms that had raised their heads above ground level.〔 He was also known for his reliability in crisis match situations, leading to epithets such as "The Rock" and "Old Steadfast".〔〔 Woodfull formed an opening partnership with Bill Ponsford at state and international level which yielded 18 century opening stands. Dubbed "Mutt and Jeff" by team-mates after the famous comic strip duo,〔 as well as "Willy Wo and Willy Po",〔 they were regarded as one of the finest opening partnerships in Test history.〔 Their Victorian teammates had such faith in the pair that if they were batting, the wicket-keeper and bowlers who batted low in the order would leave the ground to go to work.〔Robinson, p. 162.〕
As a captain, Woodfull was known for his courage and high moral principles in the face of the bodyline series. Fellow player Stan McCabe described him as "the greatest man I ever met",〔Cashman et al., pp. 322–323.〕〔 while wicket-keeper Bert Oldfield said that he had never met a more exemplary character. Oldfield said that Woodfull was a psychologist and humanitarian in addition to a captain.〔 Bradman attributed Woodfull's success to his ability to command the intense loyalty of his players and convert it into team spirit.〔 Bill O'Reilly said that Woodfull's men "all held imperishable memories of his personal touch and his courage".〔 Ray Robinson said that "nobody thought Bill Woodfull the cat's whiskers as a strokeplayer but his many qualities made him a pre-eminent leader of men".〔Robinson, p. 158.〕 He added that "Woodfull's unrivalled selflessness won fidelity bordering on devotion".〔Robinson, p. 161.〕 Australian cricket writer Jack Pollard said that "Woodfull had the habit of being where things were tough, and he brought rare dignity to the Australian captaincy".〔 Pollard compared the respect he commanded from his players to that of Ian Chappell.〔 The English writer RC Robertson-Glasgow said of Woodfull:
Woodfull was known for his gentlemanly nature and his adherence to the spirit of the game. Aside from refusing to retaliate against bodyline, Woodfull refused to exploit loopholes to dismiss batsmen. On one occasion, Jack Fingleton was run out after wandering out of the crease to inspect the crease, without intending to run. A teammate broke the wicket and the umpire upheld the appeal, but Woodfull called Fingleton back.〔 He led his team in an understated way, preferring to give broad objectives to his players and trusting them to choose their own methods to fulfil the task at hand.〔 However, he was known to organise his team tightly on tour to ensure that things proceeded smoothly.〔
Although Woodfull was a devout Methodist, he would show a deep concern in the personal welfare of all players, which extended to finding the location of the nearest Catholic Church for those teammates who followed the religion.〔 At the time, Australian society at large was divided along Catholic-Protestant lines,〔Haigh and Frith, p.94.〕 and while O'Reilly and McCabe were full of praise for Woodfull,〔 they were later accused of leading a Catholic revolt against the leadership of the Protestant Bradman during a divisive period in the late-1930s.〔〔Haigh, p. 256.〕 While Woodfull himself never touched alcohol due to his strict adherence to his religious principles,〔 he did not impose his beliefs on his team. He would buy drinks for his players,〔 and ask administrators to provide more alcohol for his teammates when they were exhausted.〔Robinson, p. 163.〕 At the time, cricketers widely regarded beer as a highly effective means of rehydration,〔Haigh, p. 31.〕 and on one occasion Woodfull threatened to halt play when administrators refused his players more ale on the grounds that they had already consumed their quota.〔Whitington and Hele, p. 139.〕
抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』