BILL JOHNSTON AND DOUG RING
Ring and Johnston were great mates who seemed to share so much in their cricket lives, be it with Richmond, Victoria or Australia. Both were life members at Richmond where Ring was club champion four times and Johnston three times. Johnston won the bowling honours six times and Ring five times. Ring was captain from 1949 to 1955 and Johnston from 1955 to 1959. Both were members of the club’s first VCA premiership team in 1947.Understandably, their names adorned the scoreboard at Punt Rd.They gained international notoriety when they shared a famous last wicket partnership of 38 to snatch victory in the fourth Test against the West Indies in 1951/52. Ring scored an unbeaten 32 and Johnstone seven not out.Ring was four years old and went to Richmond a year ahead of Johnston, who arrived in 1939, coming under the established influence of Les Keating and Charlie Stuckey.Ring was born in Hobart in 1918. He was educated at Caulfield South State School and Melbourne High, where his headmaster was Bill Woodfull. He spent several seasons at Prahran but managed only two games in the First XI, before turning up unannounced at Richmond in 1938/39 at the age of 20. He was a big lad at six foot for a spinner, and went straight into the firsts in the opening match against North Melbourne and took 4/51. Before Christmas he had joined Jack Ledward in the state team, playing against NSW at the MCG. He took two wickets in each innings. The war interrupted his career and it was nine years before he made international cricket, being part of the famous 1948 team in England.Johnston, who stood 189cm (6ft 2in) was known as Big Bill. He was born at Beeac in Western Victoria in 1922 and came to Melbourne from the family dairy farm in 1939. He and his brother Allan, a year older, played country cricket while still at school. They started in Richmond’s third XI, with Bill taking 6/16 on a rain-affected track. He was promoted to the seconds and played the last game of the season in the seniors, joining Ernie McCormick, Leo O’Brien and Ledward.After the war, Ring and Johnston were reunited in 1945/46 with Ring winning the club championship with 29 wickets at 14.82 and 205 runs at 22.77. Johnston took 18 wickets at 14.05 to finish second in the competition’s bowling averages to St Kilda’s Harry Zackariah.Johnston often took wickets in District cricket with a faster delivery, and he was encouraged by Jack Ryder and then Don Bradman to bowl faster on a consistent basis. He did and found himself given the new ball, and took to bowling fast with great success. He ran in from only seven paces to bowl fast, swing the ball late and rear sharply off a good length. Within two years he joined Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller as Australia’s three-pronged pace attack. He also could drop back to bowl spin when required.The Richmond pair toured England in 1948 and 1953. Johnston also went to South Africa in 1949/50 and the West Indies in 1955. Ring toured New Zealand in 1949/50. Both made Test debuts against India in 1947/48, when Johnston won the bowling averages.On the 1948 tour of England, Johnston took 102 wickets. In the first innings of the opening Test he captured 5/36 off 25 overs. In the opening Test in South Africa he captured 6/44. He also captured 5/85 in the third Test against England in 1954/55.In first-class cricket spanning 10 years, Johnston took 554 wickets at 23.35. He captured 192 wickets at 28.62 in 56 matches for Victoria, and 160 wickets at 23.91 in 40 Tests.
Ring retired from first-class cricket in 1953 after 129 games (67 for Victoria) and 451 wickets at 28.48, including 236 wickets for Victoria. Ring also captained Victoria seven times.Ring was an accomplished batsman, scoring 2400 runs for Victoria. He made 145 against Queensland. Johnston was not a batsman, but he did manage an average of more than 100 on the tour of England in 1953. He batted 17 times for a total of 102 runs, for only once out.In 1959 they were the first players to receive payments from the VCA provident fund. Johnston moved to the Gold Coast in the 1980s. Ring became a television commentator and died in 2003.