Jack Lyons played his one season with Norwood just as George Giffen was bowing out - but the pair went on to enjoy a fruitful association as giants of early Australian cricket.
Born at Gawler on 21 May 1863, Jack was educated at Gilles Street School, Adelaide, and played junior cricket and football with Royal Park before switching to Norwood. He kicked a goal in 1885 but Norwood had a patchy season, finishing second to South Adelaide. Jack was already making his mark as a hard-hitting batsman who would become a folk hero in 15 years of first-class cricket.
Once, in a club match, he reputably hit the ball out of Adelaide Oval into the River Torrens. Although there were two games in progress on the ground at the time, and the wicket from which the ball was driven was nearer the river than usual, it was still a mighty hit.
Jack was widely admired as a true sportsman and a gifted cricketer. He was not a slogger but a powerful orthodox batsman who rarely lofted the ball in amassing 6,753 runs, at an average of 25.57, in 153 first-class matches between 1884 and 1900. He and Giffen once put on 234 for the first wicket and the pair was credited with more than half the runs scored against NSW and Victoria in their time together as SA players.
None of Jack's 11 first-class centuries surpassed that which yielded his highest score, 149 against the MCC at Lord's in 1883. In an innings long remembered, he smashed 100 runs in an hour and altogether hit 22 fours and just 12 singles.
First chosen in the Australian side in 1887 at the age of 23, Jack played in 14 Test matches and made three visits to England, in 1888, 1890 and 1893. In Tests, he established himself as an opening batsman and made 731 runs at an average of 27.07. Perhaps his greatest moment came in Sydney in 1892 in the Second Test against Lord Sheffield's team captained by Dr W. G. Grace. Australia was 162 behind on the first innings and apparently beaten. With Alec Bannerman dug in at one end, Jack laid on the wood for his highest Test score, 134 in two and three-quarter hours, and Australia went on to win by 72 runs.
Jack also was an accurate slow bowler who could tie up an end and employed flight to capture 107 first-class wickets at 30.14, with a best performance of 6/38. He once took 5/30 in a Test match and twice snared all 10 North Adelaide wickets in club cricket.
Jack spent his early life as a stockbroker but transferred to the Taxation Department and remained in government service until his death at Magill on 21 July 1927. He was survived by his second wife, the former Annie Morris, of Bendigo, and children Maurice, John, Winifred, Alma and Jessie
P Robins May 2019