Click here to get a FREE 18 page preview of Ken’s 85th Book – “15 Minutes of Fame”


Ken’s 24/7 obsession

Cricket is a 24/7 all-year obsession for author, commentator and Mount Eliza lower XIs allrounder Ken Piesse.

The long-time president of the Australian Cricket Society, Ken revels in his daily diet of cricket, whether playing, watching or writing about it.
He followed a first-ball duck in Saturday club ranks with a career-best ‘six-for’ recently and says opposing some of the Mornington Peninsula’s most celebrated like his old mate Dermott Brereton is always fun.

‘Dermie captains the Heatherhill thirds and having seen me run between wickets, he called to his players: “With all respect Piessey, lads, throw to Ken’s end.”’

Two of Ken’s 85 sporting books were written for Dermott: Hooked on Football in 1990 and 101 Favourite Footy Stories, 1993.

‘Allan Jeans, Yabbie, launched Stories for us at Silver’s Nightclub,’ said Ken.

‘Don’t think Yab had been to a place like that before – not for a few years anyway. Dermie thought it was hilarious.’

Ken’s latest book is Fifteen Minutes of Fame, Australian cricket’s 70 one-Test wonders.

‘It’s being launched this week, a lovely hardback with a dustjacket and chockfull of pictures and anecdotes,’ he says.

‘I spoke to about 40 of them, including several who have since passed like Freddie Freer, who was talented at multi-sports and lived for years just at the back of Baden Powell’s old oval in Humphries Road.

‘Fred took a wicket with his in-dipper in his very first over, England’s celebrated opener Cyril Washbrook. Even Don Bradman came up and warmly shook his hand and said: “Well bowled Sonny.”’

While writing and researching some of the one-Test champions, Ken unearthed much rare information, never before published.

‘Take Harry Musgrove, for example,’ he said. ‘His one-off Test came in 1884 just days after he’d made the century of his life for XXII of Ballarat against England at Christmas-time.

‘Just before publication, I found out that he worked as a theatrical promoter for JC Williamson’s and was in Ballarat purely by chance.

‘One of his cricket mates from Melbourne told him that the English were in town

for a two-day bush international and would he like to play? “Are you kidding?” he said. “Of course I will.”

That very weekend back in the Big Smoke, Australia’s militant captain Billy Murdoch was withdrawing his whole squad from the New Year Test over money issues and thanks to his rollicking century, Musgrove went from the East Melbourne first XI via XXII of Ballarat straight into Australia’s top six in the MCG Test.

While he failed to make double figures, he’d had his 15 minutes of fame.

The cover photograph of Ken’s new book shows Len Johnson, who Ken regards as the unluckiest one-Test player of all – apart from fellow Queenslander Stuart Law, scorer of 100 centuries.

‘Len was from unfashionable Rockhampton and was in a bowl-off with Sam Loxton for the 17th place for the most famed and revered Ashes touring team of them all, Don Bradman’s Greats of ’48.
‘On the very day the team was announced, Len took six wickets for just 26 yet was named only as an emergency.’

Among the Victorian-based one-Test players invited to Friday’s launch of Ken’s book at the Kelvin Club in the city are Ken Eastwood, Wayne Phillips, Ian Callen, Graham Manou, Jeff Moss and John Hastings. Callum Ferguson is coming from interstate.

‘Easty is his 80s now but would still be playing if he could. He was given two baggy greens in the rooms on Day 1 of his Test in Sydney and no one bothered to ask for the second one back.’
Jeff Moss is among the rare breed to average 60 in Test cricket. He even hit Imran Khan for six over mid-wicket, yet wasn’t chosen again.

‘He was 30 at the time and had he been given the opportunity earlier, he would have played many more Tests.’

The youngest of the 70 one-Test wonders is 19 year old Jack Cottam, who died young on the Kalgoorlie goldfields and the oldest, Bendigo’s Jack Harry who was 37. ‘His Test in Adelaide in the 1890s was playing in blazing heat, 100-110 degree temperatures every day.

‘Bryce McGain was also in his mid-30s. He’s a Mornington boy. He’d always dreamt of making a century, but never thought his would come from 11.3 overs.’
There is also a list of the 40 women to have played just once for Australia at Test level.

‘The unluckiest by far,’ says Ken,’ Was Jo Garey, an all-rounder from Orange. Her Test in the 1990s lasted just eight overs. She didn’t get to bat or bowl and the match, at North Melbourne’s Arden Street, was washed out after just half an hour.’

* Fifteen Minutes of Fame is available from Ken Piesse at Go to his website or just email Ken at

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