The “Big Ship” had a prodigious record in club cricket. After a few appearances for St Kilda while a schoolboy, he spent two productive seasons at South Melbourne before joining Melbourne in 1900/01. In 146 First XI appearances for the club in a career which lasted until 1925/26, he scored 8197 runs at an average of 67.18 and captured 451 wickets at 13.73.
He holds the record for the highest score ever recorded in Melbourne club cricket, 438 against University in 1903/04 before the official start of District cricket. His best bowling figures of 7/6 were recorded against South Melbourne in 1903/04. He headed the club's batting and bowling averages on six occasions apiece - in 1903/04, 1915/16 and 1917/18 he topped both tables in the same season.
He was also a promising Australian Rules footballer, playing 16 games for South Melbourne in 1899 and 1900, before concentrating on cricket. Joining the clerical staff of the MCC in 1900, he was for many years the pavilion clerk, eventually resigning after the 1921 tour of England to become a whisky merchant. He was made a life member of the club in 1922 and sat on the committee from 1926/27 to 1928/29 and from 1931/32 to 1934/35. In February 2000 he was inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame.
Of course he was a giant of the game at higher levels. His Test career spanned from 1901/02 to 1921. A middle order right-hand batsman and right-arm leg break bowler, the Kyneton born legend died July 13, 1947 at Darling Point, Sydney, at the age of 68.
One of Australia's greatest all-rounders, he went by the nickname "the Big Ship" which reflected his massive physique (he weighed more than 20 stone at the end of his career) and his dominating personality.
Armstrong made his Test debut in the Second Test in Melbourne in 1901/02 and played his 50th, and last Test at the Oval in 1921. He toured England four times, in 1902, 1905, 1909 and 1921, the last time as captain. In 1912 he was one of the "Big Six" who refused to tour England. His highest Test score was 159 not out against South Africa in Johannesburg in 1902/03, when he carried his bat through the innings. He made four centuries against England, including three in 1920/21: 158 at Sydney, 123 not out at Melbourne and 121 at Adelaide. His best bowling was 6/35 at Lord's in 1909. In the previous Test, at Birmingham, he took 5/27. He captained Australia ten times, all against England, without a single defeat, including eight consecutive wins from the First Test at Sydney in 1920/21 to the Third Test at Leeds in 1921. He performed the "double" on three English tours - in 1905 (1902 runs and 122 wickets), in 1909 (1451 runs and 113 wickets) and in 1921 (1213 runs and 100 wickets).
His highest first class score of 303 not out was made for the 1905 Australians against Somerset. In all first class matches his best return was 8/47 for the Australians against Nottinghamshire in 1902.
He first played for Victoria in 1898/99, and in 83 first class matches for the state scored 6732 runs at 52.19 and captured 248 wickets at 22.53, both records that stood for many years. The highest of his 23 centuries for the state was 250 against SA in Melbourne in 1911/12. In 1920/21, aged 41, he scored 157 not out and 245, also against SA in Melbourne. His best bowling for Victoria was 6/66 against NSW in 1906/07. He captained Victoria 36 times between 1906/07 at the start of District cricket until and 1921/22, before leg problems led to his retirement.
From "100 Not Out" by Rod Nicholson and Ken Williams.