Lew Cooper and Sam Trimble at the Gabba Test for the Ashes in 2006.
Lew Cooper and Sam Trimble at the Gabba Test for the Ashes in 2006.

Best cricketer to never play a Test dies aged 84

To Queensland cricket, Sam Trimble was the gift who just kept giving.

Opening batsman Trimble, who died in Brisbane on the weekend aged 84, was known as one of the finest Sheffield Shield cricketers to never wear a Test cap.

Few have come closer. Trimble was 12th man for the first Test against the West Indies in Jamaica in 1965 and he also captained an Australia Second XI to New Zealand in 1969, making a double century.

Sam Trimble and wife Avon, with children Wendy, 5, and Glen, 2, at Brisbane Airport in 1965.
Sam Trimble and wife Avon, with children Wendy, 5, and Glen, 2, at Brisbane Airport in 1965.

The iconic duo of Bob Simpson and Bill Lawry were the brick wall that stopped him from making the Test side but had he been playing today he would surely have made the team.

"He was the best player I saw who never played a Test for Australia,'' said former Test keeper John Maclean, a long time Trimble teammate.

"He was a lovely fella - a quintessential Australian. I remember years after we retired I met Bob Hawke and one of the first things he said to me was "how's Sam Trimble.' He was very widely known and respected.''

The Sheffield Shield centuries which are so elusive to modern players came readily to Trimble in 1963-64 (five), 1964-65 (three) and 1965-66 (three).

 

Sam Trimble shows his style in a nets session in 1964.
Sam Trimble shows his style in a nets session in 1964.

 

Trimble loved the game so much he could have played it forever, eventually retiring from first class cricket in his early 40s but still appearing for the Wanderers in his 60s.

"You don't forget how to play. You just get slower," Trimble once told The Courier-Mail's Bernie Pramberg.

"I love the game. Being brought up the country where cricket was everything in the summer and a way to get out of milking the cows was a good start."

His 144 match first class career reaped 10,282 runs at 41 and he was Queensland's leading first class run-score before Stuart Law and Martin Love passed him.

Trimble's famous coaching camps at the Gabba, which continued for decades after his retirement, helped to mould future stars and were once visited by a chubby nine-year-old boy from Kingaroy called Matt Hayden.

 

Trimble with one of his students during a coaching session.
Trimble with one of his students during a coaching session.

 

"He had great self-belief,'' Maclean said.

"The story goes that in his first game for Queensland he backed himself with his team-mates to score a century and he got one in the second innings.

"Fast bowlers knew that anything wide he would just cut them. Even if it was really wide he would just chase it. I have so many magical memories of him.''

Trimble was born to farm life at Booyong outside Lismore but moved to Queensland to maximise his chances of playing first class cricket.

In the early 1970s, radio listeners got used to hearing reports of Queensland sides collapsing at the Gabba but opening batsman Trimble, their anchor an and inspiration, would often stand firm.

He loved the game from all angles and spent a year as curator at Souths home-ground Fehlberg Park from the mid-1990s, once having to get a new mobile phone after one slipped from his pocket into a bucket of white paint.

 

Trimble (back right) with fellow QLD team of the century members (front) Greg Chappell, Allan Border, Bill Brown, Peter Burge and (back) Ian Healy, Craig McDermott and Ron Archer in 2000.
Trimble (back right) with fellow QLD team of the century members (front) Greg Chappell, Allan Border, Bill Brown, Peter Burge and (back) Ian Healy, Craig McDermott and Ron Archer in 2000.

 

Trimble's best moments proved he was Test class. His 177 for Queensland against John Snow, Ken Shuttleworth, Peter Lever, Ray Illingworth and Derek Underwood in 1970-71 was a triumph against an attack which defeated Australia that summer.

Trimble never got his heart's desire - a Sheffield Shield win - but he signed off from cricket with a memorable punchline in his final summer in 1975-76 Given just 17 minutes and 15 overs by NSW captain Doug Walters to chase down a seemingly out of reach 165 runs for outright victory they roared home with making 86 and a 41-year-old Trimble 66.

It was T20 before T20 from a man who saw the good in all facets of the game.

News Corp Australia


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