Name:Johnson, Ian William Geddes
Date of Birth:8 December 1917 (d 9 October 1998)
Career:1934/35 - 1956/57
Teams:South Melbourne, VCA Colts
Batting Style:RHB
Bowling Style: RAOS


Johnson had the pedigree and talent to make it to the top and he did so at all cricket levels as well as an administrator.

The son of a national selector and North Melbourne skipper Bill, he was a public schoolboy and a fighter pilot who became captain of South Melbourne, Victoria and Australia.

Immediately after his retirement Johnson was elected secretary of the Melbourne Cricket Club, a post he held for 25 years until 1983.

Johnson qualified as an all-rounder because of his rare achievement in taking 100 wickets and hitting 1000 runs in Tests. He needed only six runs in his final Test to complete that double, and scored one and five to end his career with 1000 runs at an average of 18.52 to complement his 109 wickets which cost 29.19 each.

Educated at Wesley College, he was playing in the South Melbourne First XI at 16 as a batsman and had barely reached 17 when he represented Victoria in two games in Tasmania, where he batted at No 5. He had joined South in1934/35, and then was fast-tracked in 18 games with the Colts during the next two seasons under noted coach Bert Cohen.

His pennant career continued for 142 games with South until he retired in 1956/57. In 1939/40 he won the club double, the batting and bowling averages. He won the bowling honours another five times and in 1953/54 succeeded Lindsay Hassett as captain of the club. He was then to succeed Hassett as captain of Victoria, and Australia.

Johnson was still at Wesley when he played his first game for Victoria against Tasmania in 1935.  In a career spanning 20 years, Johnson played 77 games for Victoria, 20 of them as captain, and 189 first-class matches. In all first-class matches he made 4905 runs at 22.92 and took 619 wickets at 23.3 and held 137 catches. In 45 Tests he made 1000 runs at 18.51 and took 109 wickets at 29.19. He led Australia in 17 Tests.  

A highlight of his career was being a member of the 1948 Invincibles team to England led by Don Bradman.

Besides taking over the captaincy of South, he became Victorian captain when Hassett retired in 1953. Hassett convince Johnson that he was playing well enough to regain his Test place. Not only did he do so, he returned as captain! He led the Australians against England in 1954/55. He had captured 6/42 against England for his best bowling figures in 1946 but bettered those as skipper in the third Test of the 1955 series in the West Indies when he took 7/44. Twice in 1948 Johnson made an unbeaten century, firstly against Somerset for the touring Australian team and at the end of the year, his highest first class score of 132 not out for Victoria against Queensland. Two years later he shared a seventh-wicket stand of 150 with Keith Miller in the third Test of the 1950/51 Test series against England. Johnson contributed 77, which was to remain his highest Test score.

Johnson played the last of his 45 Tests in India in 1956, 17 of which were as captain. The following year he defeated 44 other candidates to succeed Vernon Ransford as Melbourne Cricket Club secretary, a job he held until 1983.

Johnson was a fine raconteur who delighted in relating stories over long lunches while MCC president. He naturally was on first name terms with administrators and past players, and loved nothing more than to chat about past glories while watching play unfold in the centre of the MCG.

A constant pipe smoker, he recalled many tales, but one which he loved related to the Australian tour of the West Indies in 1955. Given his expertise as an RAAF fighter pilot, Johnson asked a pilot of an aircraft transporting the team from one island to another if he could take the controls. He did so, and safely landed his team mates for their next assignment. However when Australia’s cricket officials heard that one of the team was playing pilot on tour, they banned any member of a touring party from ever flying a plane again that was carrying an Australian contingent. Not that anyone would think of it today!


From "100 Not Out" by Rod Nicholson and Ken Williams


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