At the precise moment when Monty Noble was being born in Sydney’s Haymarket, on January 28, 1873, a military band passed by playing loud music as if to herald his arrival in the world. Mother Maria immediately declared that her eighth and last child would be famous.
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Initially, Noble showed less inclination for cricket and more towards the Church. He started by ringing the bell at St Mark’s in Darling Point. Later, when touring England, he was known to visit churches, especially the towers. As a young lad, he also excelled at singing solos in the choir. His chosen profession in the end was that of a dentist.
However, he also played a bit of cricket. In fact, he is one of the greatest all-rounders produced by Australia and also one of their best captains.
A top order batsman of pedigree, Noble could swing the ball prodigiously. With a grip borrowed from the visiting American baseball players, Noble pinched the seam between his thumb and forefinger. The result was a medium-paced out-swinger that carried the threat of cutting back off the seam.
In 42 Tests, he scored 1,997 runs at 30.25 and scalped 121 wickets at 25 apiece.
He retired at the end of the 1909 tour to England.
When Jack Hobbs visited for the last time as a cricketer in 1928-29, the Master celebrated his 46th birthday. On that occasion, he was presented with a boomerang. It was Monty Noble who handed the souvenir in a meeting of the greats of two generations.
Text: Arunabha Sengupta