When first approached to write a foreword I politely refused. However, it was explained by this persistent fellow that he had spent considerable time researching on a cricketer he believed I must have admired. I asked who this could be? His reply left me humbled, for it was none other than Archie Jackson.
It hit me just about as hard as Archie did that day at Adelaide in 1929 when, in his first Test innings for Australia, with 97 runs against his name and having had his back to the wall, he cover-drove me to bring up his hundred. That ball was delivered as fast as any I had ever bowled previously.
That glorious stroke has lived in my memory to this day for its ease and perfect timing. I am sure that few among the many thousands present sighted the ball as it raced to the boundary.
I personally had a very great admiration for Archie, and I am sure we `Poms' counted him as one of us. He never failed to congratulate the bowler or fieldsman whenever he was dismissed by a good ball, and at the same time he would be the first to let you know when he thought you were not bowling so well. He would say: `You must have had a late one last night, Harold!'
He was always friendly, no matter the tenseness of the situation - you just had to find a place in your heart for a fellow like him. The respect he showed for others grew on you.
I remember once, in England during the 1930 series, in scoring 73 at the Oval in the fifth Test, he was taking quite a physical beating. As he came down the wicket to level a high spot or two he said: `Well, Harold, it's only a game, but what a grand one we're having today! I hope you're enjoying our battle as much as those spectators seem to be. You know, you've hit me almost as many times as I've hit you! I wish you'd drop one a little off line occasionally.'
I never knew him to flinch or complain at any time.
No, Archie Jackson, like his hero Victor Trumper, was born to be great, and great he was, for he received the same respect from us `Poms' as from his own team.
But we had a feeling that something was amiss with this young fellow in 1930. Those of us who were closely associated with him knew that the English climate did not suit him; he was not himself. He still batted with the same charm that only he was capable of, but it was apparent that he was not the same Archie as that of 1928-29.
One of my most cherished possessions to this day is a personal telegram sent to me by Archie while undoubtedly a very sick boy in Brisbane; it congratulated me on my bowling in that controversial Test of 1933. At the time he must have been very close to meeting his Maker, but he was still conscious enough to remember an old friend.
I remember also a number of us Englishmen visiting Archie in the private hospital in Brisbane one afternoon after practice before the fourth Test. It was the last time we were to see him, for during the final stages of that Test match he passed away. We felt the depression that was cast over the ground when early that morning the news came through that Archie was no more.
It was hard to believe. We knew that our loss was Australia's also. Privileged were those who had known him. I for one could never forget Archie Jackson.
Adapted from The Archie Jackson Story by David Frith, published in 1974 in a limited edition of 1000, and out of print since 1975.
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