Three “Three-Test Wonders” from the Seventies

Three cricketers whose star ascended high enough to score a test “baggy green” for Australia, and then, expectations unfulfilled, their international careers sunk just as quickly, never to rise again to that level.


3 test matches, 84 runs, top score 54, Ave: 21. 6 wkts, Best Bowling: 3-83, Ave: 52

Colley (nickname “The Fox”), from the “blue-blood” northern Sydney suburb of Mosman, was a bowling all-rounder, a right-arm medium fast bowler. Trundled manfully for NSW for eight or nine seasons, often bowled without luck, a good team man and occasional captain. Surprise selection for 1972 Ashes Tour. Watched on as first-change bowler when Massie and Lillie took all 20 wickets in the Lords Test. Despite performing creditably on the UK tour he never came into national selectors’ calculations again. A person known for being forthright when warranted, I recall the occasion many years after his retirement when an ABC interviewer (unwisely) matter-of-factly said to him, “You only played three tests for Australia, David”, Colley’s prompt, firm retort was along the lines of “Well, that’s three more than most cricketers played!” Has his own marketing and advertising company in Sydney.


3T, 52R, TS 27, Ave 10.40

Also from the picturesque climes of Mosman, an aggressive R-H opening bat for NSW and Essex with a penchant for hitting “over the top”. After representing Australia in the Rest of the World series in 1971-72 with minimal success, he was picked for the same Ashes tour as Colley (both made their test debut in the 1st Test, as did Tony Greig for England). Francis’ defensive technical deficiencies were soon transparently exposed by the English pace bowlers. A university graduate (poli-sci major) and journalist, Francis was a key player behind-the-scenes in the formation of World Series Cricket, and later in the 1980s helped organise the Rebel Australian tours of apartheid South Africa. Close to Kerry Packer, he was son James’ private cricket coach.


3T, 68R, TS30, Ave 11.33

A Subiaco (Perth) boy, a cautious left-hand opening bat. Found himself, despite very modest returns in the Sheffield Shield, in the Australian XI for the 1st Test for the 1974-75 MCC Tour series. Edwards stumbled and bumbled through a couple of tests until the call for the neat, effective Rick McCosker, became too clarion to ignore any longer! Edwards’ underachieving first class career for WA only lasted 20 odd games. Cricket Australia however must have thought him “The Right Wally” as he was appointed Chairman of Cric Aust for the period 2011-2015, after he had worked his way up through the WA State Association ranks. Very much the Establishment figure in stark relief to Bruce Francis’ cricketing rebel identity! Has his own business supplying irrigation products.


Keen enthusiast of eclectic games & contests involving physical endeavour and striving for victory; self-described cognoscente and Renaissance Boy. My main areas of interest are ports and sports.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    Bruce Francis has remained prominent, handing out advice left, right and centre half back throughout the Essendon saga and he once regaled the Almanac with his first hand Karen Pini anecdote here (in the comments):

    I think Tony Dell mentioned Fox Colley during his lunchtime interview during the Brisbane Test.

  2. i have been walking round all morning delaying reading the article other than headline speculating on who they would be. jeez Wally Edwards. the names you blank out of your memory. for good reason.

    better than Richie Robinson, however.

  3. re Fox Colley, could have been captain during WSC.

    i know many wqho played against him who considered him a better batsmen than bowler. funny days, funny touring team (Lillee Massie Hammond Colley and the genius but unloved GD Watson – who Francis kept out of a few tests, sadly. Net test experience – 5 tests I believe? Good enough to draw an away Ashes series againsta quality English batting line up. Part of Chappelli’s true golden era. I could have won in 74-5).

  4. Thesaurus Rex says

    Yes Peter, I also was fond of Graeme ‘Beatle’ Watson, another 1972 tourist. A positive & attractive stroke-player (an assessment endorsed by Keith Miller) whose initial entry into the test XI came via KD Walters’ 1966 national service call-up! Watson’s cricketing apogee was 1971-72, he was at his batting peak whilst representing WA, playing in the ‘test’ series V Rest of the World. Calamitously though, he was (accidentally) ‘beam-balled” in the head by Tony Greig & came perilously close to death. Courageously he came back, winning selection in ’72, but as an opener he was never the same. The Poms bounced him mercilessly (that’s test cricket!), especially the menacing John Snow, & he was (understandably) intimidated & fell cheaply. A handy medium-pacer who had a surprise, seldom-used, quicker ball, Watson, an architect by profession, also had a brief VFL career for the Demons in the mid-sixties.

  5. Thesaurus Rex says

    Beatle Watson also had a bit of the ‘gypsy’ spirit about him – he was the first Sheffield Shield cricketer to represent three states, in chron. order: Vic. WA & NSW.

  6. Peter Warrington says

    Beatle is still involved in strategic sports management. Great footballer too. Prototype one day cricketer – his Gillette cup results are outstanding, not to mention taking 7-for against the world in the wsc. My first cricket hero. I loved how he played for the a team against the 66-7 B team that went to New Zealand upon return – smashed a rapid 90 coming at 8 then ripped thru them with 5-for. Our only proper all rounder since Miller, although the Archers might demur. Stacky in his book told of Watson coming back from the blow with 176 against Hampshire, hooking and pulling with gusto. Should have played 30 tests. Couldn’t get past Stacky lawry Sheahan Cowper Redpath to even get in the team sometimes.

  7. Peter Warrington says

    My other Fox Colley moment is in Christian Ryan’s mesmerising story of the day Thommo tore Mosman a new one.

  8. Well those three chaps all played mote tests than me but never set the world on fire during their brief careers. However they have all kicked on since then. I’m not sure if David Colley was an all rounder. A test highest of 54 with one first class ton, a handy number 8. The Francis – Pini link is intriguing. She was the first playboy centrefold in Australian Playboy in 1978. I kept my copy for years but some how lost it! Damn !!!

    Thesaurus what about some more stories of lluminaries of that period, players such as Brian “Sam” Gannon, 3 tests, Phil Carlson 2 tests, and / or Ross Duncan/Paul Hibbert 1 test ?


  9. Last year Peter Hanlon (The Age) wrote a tremendous series where he interviewed several Australian cricketers who filled the breach during World Series. Forgotten players like Ian Callen, Phil Carlson and Peter Toohey. Worth looking up Glen!

  10. re Fox I meant at grade level.

    i always prefer the guys who got picked in “full strength” teams, you can make excuses in the WSC/SA rebel period.

    eg? Ashley Woodcock. who did he piss off? John Watkins – what were they smoking? John Benaud’s unseasonably late debut? G Beard omg!

    Bruce Francis averaged 26 in 70-1. then got 12 and 2 in the first shield game. then his 132 against Victoria and 87 against the World seemed to catapult him up the list. Greg Chappell as 12th man to him despite Redpath and Sheahan being available to open with Stacky – something to tell the kids! anyway, he got a Francis-like 10 and 2 in the first test. 22 in the second. Watson in for the 3rd, Invers in for him when injured for the 4th, and Woodcock and J Benaud in with Invers . I think Francis’ thumb kept him out of the Shield but somehow he jumped Redders and Benaud to get to England…. 27, 6, 0, 9 and 10. The end.

    Might have had form at Essex?

  11. Thesaurus Rex says

    I think Francis did OK for Essex in the County Champsionship in ’71 (2-3 centuries, several 50s mixed with a lot of failures) but I think it was that he had that current English experience that got him (luckily) into the team.
    I always thought that Doug Walters did himself no favours early on in his test career by NOT spending a couple of winters in England playing the full season like Chappell, G did for Somerset, or in the Lancashire Leagues as Simmo & Stacky did – learning to play the moving ball on their very different wickets. Walters would have done much better in England, had he. Certainly wouldn’t have performed as mediocrely on the 4 Ashes tours as he ended up doing.

  12. Doug toured the UK four times for FA. He made one score of 80 plus in his first innings of the 1968 series, similarly made an 80 in the second test of the 1977 series, the rest forget.

    Greg Chappell played two season with Somerset. 1970 and 1971 if my memory is working .

    Ashley woodcock, the sole test was against the Kiwis in Adelaide 1973=74. Toured the Shaky Isles but no more tests.


  13. John Butler says

    Wally Edwards did a lot more damage as an administrator than he ever did with a bat.

    Great work T Rex. Great discussion also gents.


  14. Almanac Admin (for David Colley) says

    We have received this comment from David Colley about the tone and contents of this article:

    No-one who has represented their country should, IN ANY WAY, be made to feel second best! The baggy green is the pinnacle of Australian sport . The tall poppy syndrome should be actively discouraged and people like this ‘TR’ should not be given any platform to exercise their ‘inadaquacies’ !
    David Colley

  15. Thesaurus Rex says

    David Colley seems to be labouring under a misapprehension. In my piece on him I was merely recounting what an ABC radio commentator HAD SAID to and of him (the “three tests only” comment) … in no way could this be construed as an endorsement ON MY PART of the commentator’s view, quite the contrary. Had he read the piece properly this would be crystal clear to him! Mr Colley’s beef was with the ABC staffer who made the comment, and who he correctly took to task for uttering it – not with the messenger.

    T Rex

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