Geoff Noblet : Numbered days that stretched to 67 years


by Mayukh Ghosh

Late 1950s.
An under-sixteen competition in Adelaide.
Ian Chappell is one of the players.
He hears the coach tell the boys: "Boys, I want you to write down your ambition on a bit of paper, then put it in your wallet."
Chappell never forgot that.

Geff Noblet, before becoming a coach, was a pretty decent cricketer.
He began his career in the late 1930s.
Then, in May 1939, a doctor diagnosed him as suffering from a pulled back muscle.
Weeks of intense gym-work did no good.
Noblet decided to take a second opinion.
It turned out to be pleurisy.
Doctors gave him days to live.

He needed four months to defeat the disease.
But another six years before he could play any serious cricket.
And a further three years later, came the moment for which he waited all life.
"I was in Sydney the day the team was picked and my wife and I were walking to the railway station. We bought the paper and read I was in the team.
I don't think my feet touched the ground for the rest of the journey."

One Test match in that series against South Africa.
Two more at home, against West Indies and South Africa.
He always wanted to go to England.
He thought he would get the chance in 1953.

On February 12, 1953, at the conclusion of the fifth Test against South Africa, the team for the Ashes was read out in the Australian dressing room.
Ron Archer was in.
In place of Geff Noblet.
Archer was sitting beside Noblet when the team was read out.
Noblet was disappointed but he was the first to congratulate Archer.
"A great lesson", Archer said later.

Geff Noblet died in 2006.
67 years after he had 'only days to live'.

He was born on Sep 14, 1916.