We remember... H N MacLaurin

We remember... H N MacLaurin

In this occasional series, James Rodgers recalls members of the Sydney University Cricket Club who served in the Great War 100 years ago.

Lt Colonel Henry Normand MacLaurin was born in Sydney 31 October 1878 and killed at Gallipoli 27 April 1915.

MacLaurin is remembered at Gallipoli by a landmark called ‘MacLaurin’s Hill’.

He was a highly successful barrister, active in the militia forces when he enlisted on 15 August 1914, almost as soon as war was declared.

Tony  Cunneen, who has done invaluable research into lawyers’ service in the Great War, has written about the NSW legal profession:

         ‘While they were certainly members of what the historian Manning Clark called the ‘comfortable classes’ they were also willing to forgo the security and safety of that class and give all their support to the cause of national identity and honour on the battle fields on the other side of the world.’

MacLaurin played only two seasons for Sydney University CC.  In 1896-97, after scoring only 44 runs at 7.3 in 2nd Grade, he was inexplicably promoted to 1st Grade (1st Grade cap number 53) where he played another two games without distinction. In the season when the Club was readmitted on humbling terms to the Grade Competition in 1898-99, MacLaurin was selected in 1st Grade  twice more. An energetic 54 was followed by a non-descript 5 and he played no more.

His father, Sir Henry Normand MacLaurin (1835-1914), a Scotsman, was Chancellor of the University of Sydney from 1896 until his death. He was also President of the Legislative Council, the Upper House of the NSW Parliament. A dominant figure in conservative politics, he was nevertheless admirably open to fresh educational ideas, especially those brought forward by the NSW Labor Government of 1910 which related to the reform of the Senate of the University. His second son, named after his father, was educated at Blair Lodge School at Polmont in Scotland and then at Sydney Grammar School. Two other sons, Charles and Hugh both served in the War.

After graduation BA in 1899 and admission to the NSW Bar,  MacLaurin carried on his work as a barrister from 11 Wentworth Chambers in Elizabeth St, specialising in accountancy. He also pursued a military career. Commissioned in the NSW Scottish Rifles in 1899, he eventually rose to command the 26th Infantry Regiment in July 1913. When he enlisted in the AIF, he was immediately appointed Lieutenant Colonel, commanding the 1st Infantry Brigade, a force of 4000 men. At 36 years of age, he was young for such responsibility but he wisely chose more experienced men to command battalions under him.

In a letter to  Justice David Ferguson (whose son, Arthur, a Law student who had also been to Sydney Grammar, was killed in France in 1916)  in March 1915, MacLaurin confided that rumours of the soldiers’ bad behaviour in Cairo had been exaggerated.

          ‘With 20,000 men it can be easily seen that some would play up for a bit while their money lasted…’

He stood up for his men, attacking those civilians who were ‘doubtful and dissatisfied and critical’. Their accounts were ‘false and malicious’. Although he was a stern disciplinarian, he had a fine reputation among his men who respected his energy and enthusiasm especially when they trained under him in Egypt.

When orders of the landing at Gallipoli came through, MacLaurin was said to have ‘happily cancelled his leave and bounded smiling up the stairs to the General’s office to plan the attack.’ (Cunneen).

During the afternoon of 27 April 1915, at about 3.15 pm, MacLaurin ‘was standing on the slopes of the ridge that now bears his name… in the act of warning soldiers to keep under cover when he too was shot dead…MacLaurin was buried by his men where he fell.’ In 1919, he was reinterred at the 4th Battalion Parade Ground Cemetery. He was posthumously promoted to Brigadier General.

He was the fifth of the 337 from Sydney Grammar who were  killed or who died in the War. An extraordinary 2172 ‘Old Sydneians’ enlisted. (I am indebted to Dr Philip Creagh who has carried out painstaking and forensic analysis of the Old Sydneians who enlisted). There was widespread grief among the legal profession. A ceremonial service was held at the Banco court and special mention was made in the minutes of the Bar Association.

He was the first of the Club’s former players to be killed.

CEW Bean wrote of him:

           ‘…a man of lofty ideals, direct, determined, with a certain inherited Scottish dourness…but an educated man of action of the finest type that the Australian universities produce.’


James Rodgers



Want to work at Sydney Uni Cricket?

Want to work at Sydney Uni Cricket?

Do you have a passion for cricket? Do you have high level playing and coaching experience? Do you enjoy shaping and guiding the next generation of cricketers to succeed on- and off-the-field? Want to work for one of the most successful Premier Cricket outfits in Australia?

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We are currently hiring to fill the following roles, please click to view a Position Description for each:

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To apply for these roles, please send a cover letter (1-page) and resume (no more than 4-pages) addressed to Dale Bryant, General Manager, c/- info@sydneyuniversitycricket.com.au

Applications close C.O.B on Monday 7th May 2018.


Sir Eric McClintock died peacefully on 27 March aged 99. He played for the Club in 1938-39. A more detailed obituary will appear in the 2017-18 Annual Report.

This leaves Kendal Binns, Greg Scahill and Bert Alderson, who will all turn 94 this year, as the Club’s oldest former players.

Finals Milestones

Congratulations to Parramatta on its well deserved, drought-breaking win in the First Grade final.  This was only the sixth occasion on which Sydney University has finished as runner-up in First Grade.

Ben Joy's second wicket in the final took his total for the club to 402, and he passed John Grimble (401) to move into 11th place on the list of wicket-takers for Sydney University.

Lawrence Neil-Smith (4-49) chose the grand final to collect his best bowling figures in First Grade.

Tim Cummins held five catches in Parramatta's innings in the final, recording five dismissals in an innings for the first time in his career with the club.  He finished the season only one short of fifty dismissals, with 42 catches and 7 stumpings.

Third Grade won the Mitchell Cup for only the fifth time.

It was a big weekend for Ash Cowan, who not only won the inaugural Mick Favell Medal as player of the match in the Third Grade grand final, but also became the first captain to lead University to two Mitchell Cup victories.  His 63 was his tenth half-century in Thirds, and during his innings he became the first player to pass 2500 Third Grade runs for University.

There was a unique record for Alex Shaw, who became half of the first father-and-son combination to win Third Grade premierships for University.  Andrew Shaw (better remembered for his long First Grade career as a keeper-batsman) was a member of the Third Grade side that defeated Petersham-Marrickville in the 1980-81 Third Grade final (having also been a member of the successful Second Grade side in 1979-80).

Charles Litchfield, with 99 against Sydney, recorded his third score above fifty in Thirds and fell one run short of his second century in that grade.  He also became, we think, the first University player to be dismissed for 99 in a grand final.


Semi Final Match Reports

Semi Final Match Reports


Sydney Uni 431: D Mortimer 120, E Cowan 82, N Larkin 48
Sydney 127: T Ley 4-30, B Joy 2-19, D Malone 2-23, L Neil-Smith 2-28

The Students arrived at number 1 oval as the higher ranked of the two sides in the semi final clash against Sydney. A draw would be enough, but the team was intent on playing positive cricket and ensuring Sydney were always under pressure.

Larkin won the toss and elected to bat on another superb surface. A swift start from Trevor-Jones and Larkin came to an end when the former pulled one to square leg, dismissed for 10. Mortimer arrived at the crease and played his shots from his first ball, combining with his captain to drive the home side forward in the opening session. Larkin fell for 48, hooking to the man in the deep, leaving the game evenly poised at 2/101.

Cowan strolled to the crease in his typically (of late) belligerent fashion and Mortimer followed his lead. The two hooked, cut and pulled anything remotely short. The Sydney bowlers were never able to build pressure as the Students pressed on through the middle session. Mortimer went past a century, his finest innings in his two seasons for the club. Cowan was eventually caught in the deep for a classy 82. Mortimer followed shortly after, departing for a stunning 120. Sydney smelt an opportunity at 4/289. 

Robertson and Kerr steadied the ship, leading the home side into stumps at 4/348, as 16 overs were lost late in the day due to rain.

As expected, Sydney came out hard on the morning of day 2. The set batsmen both fell early, Kerr for an aggressive 43 and Robertson for a measured 32. Cummins and Ley came and went quickly, and suddenly 8/375 saw Sydney with momentum and belief. For a second season running, the unlikely hero was Ben Joy. Joining young Lawrence Neil-Smith at the crease, the lanky quicks went about both taking time out of the game and seizing valuable runs when the opportunity presented. The partnership of 42 took the wind out of the visitors sails. Joy made a season high of 20 and Neil-Smith remained unbeaten on 28.  Eventually the hosts were all out for a mammoth 431, leaving Sydney 68 overs to chase an unlikely victory.

Despite a bright start from Sydney's openers, they were never able to get ahead of the steep run rate. The introduction of Joy and Neil-Smith, this time as bowling partners, lead to early scalps. 1/51 became 2/67, and by the time the third wicket fell, there was a procession at hand. Joy's six over spell yielded 2/19. Another memorable semi final effort for the ever giving clubman. Neil-Smith continues to impress, grabbing 2/28 from his six overs.

Malone looked back to his best, showing good control and variation as he challenged the batsmen to hit him into the breeze. He grabbed 2/23 from his eight over spell. The ever present Ley was hungry for the ball, and his final spell swiftly led to the end of the game. Clever and liberal use of the short ball proved too hard to resist for the visiting middle and lower order. ably assisted by some nice outfield catching by Neil-Smith. By 4pm the students were belting out a strong rendition of the club song, Sydney skittled for 127. Parramatta await.



Sydney Uni 141: AJ Grant 31, E Arnott 31, J Lawson 26
Parramatta 135: S Wood 6-42, A Peek 2-11, AJ Grant 2-28

Well, well, well. What a result, a hard-fought victory and a Grand Final at home this weekend. But more on that later, first to the detail of the fixture.

The Saturday morning arrived, and the Units returned to fortress Petersham to take on the minor premiers, who were wobbling in the finals after a dominant year. A difference of opinion regarding eligibility meant that 3 new faces were requisitioned Friday afternoon to fill in the sizeable gaps left by Messrs Hill, Shaw and Tate. Peek, Bedford and Galvin the inclusions and all were fit and firing, and the Units were confident after accounting for the Eels in the earlier season fixture.

Nash was a spirited 6 on 6 encounter which ended up being an absolute bloodbath, young 6 – Old nude and Wood essentially a cardboard cut-out between the sticks. The less said the better.

Astonishingly enough your scribe won the toss and elected to bat on a good surface that looked to offer a bit of assistance in certain areas. From the start the Parramatta bowlers Pike and Sullivan bowled with good pace and excellent control to continually ask question of the batters. A few early wickets and at 3/13 we were in some difficulty. AJ and Furboni met in the middle and put together a solid partnership whilst dealing with some quality bowling, and I suspect the mid-pitch chats would have been split roughly 50/50 on how to combat the bowling vs how their rigs were shaping up (Furby better but AJ not at all to be discouraged).

AJ and Ed both reached 31 but we struggled to build any real momentum and Leggie saved our blushes somewhat with a well made 26 late on. All out 141 in 62 overs which felt under par but still well and truly defendable. Credit to the Parra bowlers in particular Pikey who bowled pretty much unchanged from one end and acquired 4/57 off his 27 overs.

This meant that notionally we had 35 overs to bowl in order to make some inroads. Big Wood and Peek took the new ball with immediate results, Peek collecting the wicket of the dangerous Taylor Charles without scoring. A couple of quick wickets to Wood left us on top with Parra 3/21, however Harry King and the keeper Liam O’Farrell showed no sign of nerves as they got themselves settled in and cashed in on any loose deliveries. A late storm meant that play was called to a halt 7 overs early, and this was a blessed relief as Parra were in the driver’s seat and sitting pretty at 3/80 overnight.

Day 2 dawned and whilst your scribe was feeling optimistic, as a betting man you’d have to realise Sportsbet would have had our odds in the 2-horse race at 10s to secure a 1st innings lead. They of course didn’t factor in Wood, and the big bustler who were preparing to deliver the spells of their careers.

Nash was quality and old reversed the result of the day before to leave it 1-all over the fixture (aggregate disregarded as we would have lost by that method). Some very high-quality pieces of play from Galvin across 2 days securing him the 3 points again and probably wrapped up the Best Nash Player award for the year across the club (3rd grade, as the best Nash team, obviously our best player is the best across the club).

Both Wood and AJ prepared to do the business, and no consideration of a bowling change was given by the 2 fired up units (I think I told Peeky to “be ready” and to warm up 13 times across 30 overs before he finally got the ball). Big Wood was the first to strike, capturing O’Farrell caught and bowled. The big boerewors was next, bowling King and both batsmen departed for well-made 41s.

All of a sudden it was game on and we were into the middle order, and at 5/92 it was anyone’s game. Wood and Grant then captured another one each and the live odds swung right around, as a comfortable 3/80 overnight became 7/98.

However, Parramatta had no intentions of going quietly and the experienced duo of Verma and Coleman dug their heels in and started to compile a strong partnership. On the stroke of lunch, your scribe returned to Wood, and the big man got the breakthrough, grabbing Michelle with Anand chipping a catch to short cover. Uni then went to their sandwiches with 2 wickets to get, and 10 runs to play with.

After the interval it was Wood who acquired a friend, trapping Sullivan in front. 9/133 and a sense of déjà vu for those involved in the corresponding fixture last year. A few tense overs and a couple of singles and in the end, it was Peek who got the result, nicking of the skipper. Pandemonium ensued, and I can’t recall a more satisfying win or a more jubilant celebration in a very long time.

Unsurprisingly Parra then tried their luck to force a 2nd innings result, but the Units held firm (despite some members of the team trying to injure members of the public/the poor bloke at bat pad). Litchfield was the star, cruelly denied a chance to raise the bat for his 50/150, and his 43*(149) was a quality display.

The day however belonged to Wood, and what a performance from the man. 25 overs, 9 maidens and 6/42 in an outstanding display of fast bowling, and certainly his best performance (off the stage) during his time at Uni (let’s face it, he plays bass so it’s probably his best performance all around). Twice in the last 5 rounds he has won the game for us, and it is a rich reward for all of the training that he has put in (I think he may even be in double figures for the year).

Now the GF awaits, and it is a return to the scene of our most recent triumph from 2 years ago at Uni 1. The tigers will be the opposition and we are exactly where we want to be, with one more strong effort to raise the trophy and the glory that awaits (mostly 3hrs in the tubs, although the premiership would be nice too).


Milestone Monday

Milestone Monday

First Grade, after its emphatic win over Sydney,  has reached the final of the Premier Cricket competition for the ninth time.  Until 1952-53, the First Grade competition was decided on a first-past-the-post basis, and finals were played only when needed to separate two teams finishing equal on points (University won such a final in 1909-10).  

Damien Mortimer's decisive 120 against Sydney was his second century for the season, his fourth for Sydney University, and the fifth of his First Grade career.  During the innings he passed 1000 runs in a season for the first time: his tally now stands at 1101 at an average of 50.04.

Tim Ley, whose 4-30 wrapped up Sydney's innings on Sunday, has now taken 59 First Grade wickets for the season, which equals his career-best 59 wickets in the premiership season of 2013-14.  He also took his tally of First Grade wickets for University to 318, passing Peter James (316)to move into fourth place on the club's list of First Grade wicket-takers, behind Mick O'Sullivan (652), John Grimble (379) and Ian Moran (336).

When Ben Joy dismissed Sydney's Harry Dalton on Sunday, he captured his 400th wicket for the club.  He becomes only the 12th player in the club's history to reach that milestone.

Hayden Kerr passed 2500 runs for the club in all grades during his 43 against Sydney in the First Grade semi-final.

Third Grade's extraordinary, courageous victory over Parramatta in the semi-final carried Thirds into the final for the 11th time in the club's history.

Aidan Peek, a last-minute inclusion in the Third Grade semi-final side, made his presence felt by taking his first wickets in Thirds - an early breakthrough and the decisive final wicket - while taking 2-11.

Sam Wood's exceptional, match-winning 6-42 against Parramatta in the semi-final was his first five-wicket haul for the club, and the best of his three five-wicket hauls in Premier Cricket (he captured 5-38 and 5-43 for Randwick-Petersham).

During the Third Grade semi-final, Ash Cowan took his total of runs for the club in all grades to 5810, passing Chairman of Selectors Phil Logan to move into 12th spot on the club's list of all-time run-scorers.