Spirit of Cricket Alan Davidson
“When I was eight, my grandfather showed me the photograph of the ship that took the 1938 Ashes team to England. I remember saying ‘I’ll do that one day, granddad, I’ll get on the ship’. And I did – three times!"
Alan Davidson took his first step towards becoming one of Australian cricket’s great all-rounders when he was only eight years old and his grandfather, Arthur ‘Paddy’ Clifton – a pioneering timber cutter on the NSW central coast - showed him a sepia-toned photograph of the RMS Strathmore.
Davidson was transfixed as his grandfather, a prolific bush batsman, regaled him with tales of how the team which contained such luminaries as Don Bradman and Bill O’Reilly retained the Ashes, including the story of the ship that took the squad to the other side of the world.
As the old man spoke Davidson became captivated by the idea of one day travelling by ship to wear the Australian Baggy Green cap against England, and to play at venues such as Lord’s - the spiritual home of cricket.
Even as the horror of World War II raged around him, Davidson remained focussed on fulfilling his dream. He recalled how, as a tiny teenager, he used his father’s mattock and spade to carve a pitch in the side of a hill on his family’s property so he could finetune his skills.
“I levelled the hill off,” said Davidson on his 90th birthday in 2019. “Then I’d smash down on the dirt with a spade to harden it up.
“Three sticks from a gum tree were used as my stumps . . .accuracy was so important because if I missed those sticks the ball rolled into the gully. That was no good because apart from the long chase, I’d also have to search for it in the scrub.”
Davidson fulfilled his promise to travel to England by ship to compete in the Ashes - on three occasions in 1953, 1956, 1961.
While his inspirational feats for NSW and Australia are well documented in history books, Davidson’s career is remembered for his being the little boy who moved a mountain to achieve greatness, and as the legend who was inspired by his Pop.