After a fine debut hundred that showed both – skills and flair, Archie Jackson, to many, stood out as a potential rival to Bradman. However, a fatal tuberculosis disease four years later deprived the game of another genius.
Australia were playing for pride in the fourth Test at the Adelaide Oval. 3-0 down and with two dead rubbers to play, Vic Richardson, the grandfather of the Chappell brothers, was discarded and Archie Jackson, a 19-year-old from New South Wales, was brought in to open the batting.
Wally Hammond, imperious all series, racking up 900 runs, struck a first innings 119*, but after dismissing the visitors for 334, Australia were back in the game. In reply, the Australians found themselves in trouble at 19-3, but the young pretender Jackson looked comfortable against the pace of Harold Larwood and began to dig his side out of trouble.
By stumps on day two, Jackson had guided his side to 131-3, with the debutant unbeaten on 70.
The next morning Jackson was joined at the crease by his New South Wales teammate Donald Bradman, playing in just his third Test match. Bradman urged caution as Jackson approached a landmark century but his advice fell on deaf ears as the gifted teenager promptly smashed Larwood to the point boundary to become Australia’s youngest Test centurion.
Jackson eventually fell for 164, one run short of Charles Bannerman’s record for the highest score by an Australian on Test debut.
Tragically this was to be Jackson’s only Test century and he would go on to play just seven more Test matches. In 1932 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and on February 16, 1933, he died in a Brisbane hospital after collapsing while playing cricket.
Thousands of mourners lined the streets of Sydney for the funeral of a young man who many believed had the potential to rival his friend and teammate, Don Bradman, as the world’s greatest batsman.
First published in 2009