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Tragedy by two

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 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 were also first XI teammates at the Waverley CC.

Author Max Bonnell 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 Australia.

Bonnell says he announced himself ‘as the new star of Australian cricket’ before joining an exodus of lead players to play professionally in England.

Injuries sustained in the war almost certainly caused his early death, from peritonitis and a perforated bowel.

Ebley Street Boys is available in softback. Just 100 copies have been printed. They are signed by the author, one of Australia’s long-time leading cricket historians.

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