It was a runs record even Don Bradman could not match: the highest first-class batting average of all, 207.
Sydney’s Norman Callaway played only once for New South Wales, scoring a double century in his only innings. A year later, aged 21, he lost his life during World War One.
His life and tragic end on the Western Front is portrayed in Ebley Street Boys, a just-released biography of lost promise also featuring another outstanding prospect Frank O’Keeffe who was also to die young, at 27.
For a short time in 1914-15, the two boys from Bondi Junction, near the Sydney CBD, were also first XI teammates at the Waverley CC.
Author Max Bonnell (biographer of Herbie Collins, Jack Marsh and others) calls Callaway ‘the great natural batting talent of his generation’.
O’Keeffe was also an outstanding talent with twin centuries to his credit against a famed attack including Gregory, McDonald and Mailey in a match for The Rest against Warwick Armstrong’s 1921 Australians in Sydney. Shortly afterwards he made 180 in a Sheffield Shield match, ‘announcing himself,’ Bonnell says, ‘as the new star of Australian cricket’ before joining an exodus of leading Australian players to play professionally in England, with the Church CC.
Just as he seemed set to qualify for Lancashire, he fell seriously ill and died from peritonitis and a perforated bowel.
Ebley Street Boys is available in softback in a limited edition of 100. They are signed by the author and are available only from me at cricketbooks.com.au