Former Australia spinner Bruce Yardley passes away at 71
He also coached Sri Lanka from 1996 to 1998.
Updated - Mar 27, 2019 3:23 pm
Bruce Yardley, the former Australia spin bowler, passed away at the age of 71 in Western Australia on Wednesday after a prolonged battle with cancer. He started his cricket career as a medium-pacer. However, at the age of 27, he decided to switch to off-spin and enjoyed considerable success. He made his first-class debut in 1966 but it was a forgettable one as he managed to pick up just a solitary wicket.
As a result of that unimpressive debut, Yardley had to wait for almost five years to play another first-class game. His struggles in first-class cricket continued as he managed to score just 246 runs in addition to picking up only 6 wickets in his first 14 first-class games. He finally enjoyed his breakthrough season in 1976-77. He finished the season with 19 wickets and also impressed with the bat.
Bruce Yardley then made it to the Australian team perhaps with some luck. The World Series Cricket witnessed a mass exodus of Australian cricketers and Yardley was named in Australia‘s Test side for the series against India in 1977-78. In the following year, he impressed in West Indies, picking up 15 wickets at an average of less than 25.
He had also played a couple of impressive knocks against the mighty Caribbean outfit. In the Barbados Test, he had scored 74 and 43 against a side which boasted the fearsome quartet of Andy Roberts, Colin Croft and Joel Garner in Barbados.
He reached the prime of his career in the 1981-82 season, picking up 18, 20 and 13 scalps against Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand respectively. Australia dropped him in 1983 after which Yardley decided to retire from the game. He finished his Test career with 978 runs and bagged 126 wickets. He also held the record for Australia’s quickest half-century for 38 years after reaching the milestone from 29 balls against the West Indies in 1978 before David Warner broke it in 2017.
Yardley briefly returned to cricket as a player in the 1989-90 season. After hanging up his boots, he became a commentator and coached Sri Lanka from 1996 to 1998.
Cricket Australia paid its tribute to their former spinner
“Bruce was a significant figure in Australian cricket, contributing in many ways on and off the field. As a player, it took him more than ten years of persistence playing First-Class and Premier cricket to find the art of off-spin, earning him a Test debut at the age of 30.
“Bruce’s bowling dominates his career highlights with 126 Test wickets, holding the mantle as Australia’s most successful Test off-spinner before being surpassed by Nathan Lyon. He was also an excellent fielder and handy batter, holding the record for the quickest Test fifty for 38 years. Off the field, Bruce had an infectious personality and was regarded as one of the best spin-bowing coaches in the world, coaching Sri Lanka and mentoring the greatest Test wicket-taker of all time, Muttiah Muralitharan,” Cricket Australia’s statement read.
Fraternity pays tribute to Yardley
So sad to hear of the passing of Bruce Yardley. Terrific bowler and character. #294 😭
— Dean Jones (@ProfDeano) March 27, 2019
Very sad to hear about the passing of Bruce Yardley. He was a good man to get to know and a great friend of Sri Lankan cricket. May he Rest In Peace.
— Kumar Sangakkara (@KumarSanga2) March 27, 2019
Sad to hear about the passing of Bruce Yardley. Worked with him and shared a few laughs. Condolences to his family.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) March 27, 2019
Sad to hear the passing of Bruce Yardley !!! Great character he was and was truly loved in SL , he was coach in the nintees. You put a smile on many people . Will be missed #RIP
— Russel Arnold (@RusselArnold69) March 27, 2019
Heard the sad news of the Passing away of the former Sri Lanka coach Bruce Yardley. Bruce as we called him was very likable and a cheerful person. RIP Bruce.
— Roshan Abeysinghe (@RoshanCricket) March 27, 2019