By Ben Hope
IT’S the dream of every cricket club across Australia, to lay claim to a Test cricketer.
For the Berwick Cricket Club that dream has become a reality after a chance discovery by Berwick resident Allan Bartlett.
Going through his father’s belongings after his death, Bartlett stumbled across Early Days of Berwick and its surrounding districts, a detailed history of the area. Bartlett’s interest was piqued when he read about Test cricketer Harry Graham, who was listed as playing for the Berwick Cricket Club in the 1880s.
“The club was very surprised when I asked them if anyone knew about Graham playing for Berwick,” Bartlett said.
“There were still a few older guys who knew about him, but for the most part the knowledge had been lost. There was a fire at the club in the 1985 and most of the records and memorabilia were destroyed.”
“The club doesn’t have a representative player and I thought it would be great if they did so I began looking into the history.”
According to Bartlett’s research, Graham attended Berwick Grammar School and played cricket for the Berwick Cricket Club before moving on to the South Melbourne, Victorian and Australian teams.
Graham played six tests for the Australian team and memorably scored a century at Lord’s in his test debut in 1893.
In 1900 Graham also played two games of Australian Rules Football for Melbourne in the Victorian Football League.
Bartlett searched hours of microfilm at the State Library before finding the crucial evidence that Graham played at Berwick: a table of batting averages from the Dandenong Advertiser on 31 May 1888.
“Before I did the research the Melbourne Cricket Club claimed him as one of theirs and while he did later play for them it’s important to realise that he got his start at the Berwick Cricket Club,” Bartlett said.
“The information was there, it just hadn’t been recognised. I’m not a historian by any measure but once I got going I thought I would keep digging until I found the truth.”
President of the Berwick Cricket Club Rod Allan said it was good for the club to be able to lay claim to someone who played Test Cricket, even if it was more than 100 years ago.
“We’re happy to lay claim to it; I was totally unaware that Graham had played for Berwick,” Allan said.
“It will be great to get something up on the wall of the club.”
Bartlett now hopes to enlist the support of some local sponsors to create a commemorative piece that will include a photo and some information about Harry Graham to present to the club.
“I am hoping it will make a good talking point,” Bartlett said.
“If anyone else has any more information about Harry Graham and his time in Berwick I hope they will contact the Berwick Cricket Club.”
By Ben Hope