Norman Williams (Australian cricketer)

Norman Leonard Williams (23 September 1899 – 31 May 1947) was an Australian first-class cricketer who played for South Australia from 1919/20 to 1928/29.

Norman Williams
Personal information
Full nameNorman Leonard Williams
Born(1899-09-23)23 September 1899
Semaphore, South Australia, Australia
Died31 May 1947(1947-05-31) (aged 47)
Semaphore, South Australia, Australia
BattingRight-hand batsman
BowlingRight arm leg spin
Domestic team information
1919/20 – 1928/29South Australia
Career statistics
Competition First-class
Matches 34
Runs scored 850
Batting average 15.45
100s/50s –/5
Top score 56
Balls bowled 4778
Wickets 122
Bowling average 39.16
5 wickets in innings 9
10 wickets in match 3
Best bowling 6/40
Catches/stumpings 12/-
Source: Cricket Archive, 3 November 2015

Born in Semaphore, South Australia to Captain Thomas and E.J. Williams, Williams was the brother of Lou, Ethel, Fred, Tom and Jack.[1]

Playing for Port Adelaide Cricket Club, Williams developed into a leading leg spin bowler in Adelaide district cricket while still a teenager.[2] There was a public call for Williams to be picked for South Australia, with one supporter stating Williams "is young and full of energy, a brilliant field, and a fair bat if needed, he can bowl all day ... (he) is not tempted to toss them up at all times; and, if he strikes a length, is the type of bowler able to run through any side."[2]

Williams made his first-class debut for South Australia aged twenty against New South Wales at the Adelaide Oval on 19 December 1919, scoring 50 and zero and taking 3/138 as South Australia lost by and innings and 330 runs.[3]

Described as a "stocky right-arm leg-spinner who gave the ball plenty of air, and who relied on flight and sharp spin in the manner of Arthur Mailey to trap his victims",[4] Williams's best performance with the ball was against Queensland at the Adelaide Oval in December 1923, where he took 6/40 with match figures of 12/195.[5] However, the arrival of Clarrie Grimmett for the 1923/24 season relegated Williams to South Australia's second choice spin bowler[6] and was selected only once in 1924/25 and not at all during the 1925/26 season.[7]

In 1926/27, however, Williams had an excellent season for Port Adelaide, ultimately taking 80 wickets at 14.83 for the season,[8] and was recalled to the South Australian side. In his first match back for South Australia, against Victoria at the Adelaide Oval, Williams took match figures of 12/234, compared with Grimmett's 3/227 and Victorian spinner Don Blackie's 10/245.[9]

During the season, Williams was called "probably the most improved bowler in Australia, ... his length is now fairly accurate. and he can turn the ball both ways. His "bosey" ball is cunningly concealed, and has proved most troublesome. Williams is one of the most popular players in South Australian cricket and has an ideal temperament for the game.[10][10] Williams was the biggest wicket taker in first-class cricket in 1926/27, taking 35 wickets at 32, compared to Blackie with 33 at 24.6, Grimmett 30 at 34.3 and Mailey 20 wickets at 42.[11]

Williams's improved form saw him selected for "The Rest" against an Australian XI, played at the Sydney Cricket Ground starting on 18 February 1927, where he took 6/174.[12]

Williams had a poor season in 1927/28, taking only five wickets at 73.00 and while he took 24 wickets at 34.9 in 1928/29, Williams retired from first-class cricket with his final appearance in January 1929, for South Australia against New South Wales, taking 2/95.[13] He continued in district cricket until 1943, taking 894 wickets for Port Adelaide at 18.85.[4] This remains the record number of wickets taken in the Adelaide district competition.[14] Eleven times, and nine in succession, Williams was the leading wicket taker in a district cricket season.[15]

Outside of cricket Williams was a dentist[16] and became involved in horse racing as an owner. He owned leading racehorse Ramssare as part of a syndicate and later became the sole owner of Jack Parr, who won an ARC grand national steeple-chase.[17]

Williams died suddenly on 31 May 1947, aged 47.[1] In recognition of his district cricket accomplishments, the scoreboard at Port Adelaide's home ground Alberton Oval, was named in Williams's honour.[18]

South Australian wicketkeeper and Port Adelaide captain Gordon Inkster paid tribute to Williams, saying that "had he applied himself more seriously he would most certainly have made one of the world's greatest bowlers of his type. On numerous occasions when he could have secured many of the closing wickets, he refrained from so doing, to enable another of the younger bowlers to procure a wicket or two, with the result that he was responsible for the developing of several young bowlers to the advantage of both club and State."[15]


  1. "Family Notices", The Advertiser, 5 June 1947, p. 16.
  2. 'One of the paying public', "Interstate cricket", The Register (Adelaide), 15 December 1919, p. 4.
  3. "South Australia v New South Wales – Sheffield Shield 1919/20". CricketArchive. Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  4. Sando, p. 138.
  5. "South Australia v Queensland – Other First-Class matches in Australia 1923/24". CricketArchive. Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians. Retrieved 19 November 2015.
  6. "Death of Former State Cricketer", Chronicle (Adelaide), 5 June 1947, p. 42.
  7. "First-Class Matches played by Norman Williams (34)". CricketArchive. Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians. Retrieved 20 November 2015.
  8. Sando, p. 172.
  9. "South Australia v Victoria Sheffield Shield 1926/27". CricketArchive. Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  10. "Improved Slow Bowler", News (Adelaide), 1 January 1927, p. 3.
  11. "First-class Bowling in Australia for 1926/27 (Ordered by Average)". CricketArchive. Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  12. "Australian XI v The Rest, Other First-Class matches in Australia 1926/27". CricketArchive. Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  13. "South Australia v New South Wales, Sheffield Shield 1928/29". CricketArchive. Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  14. Sando, p. 170.
  15. Kneebone, H. "Tribute to N.L. Williams", The Advertiser (Adelaide), 6 June 1947, p. 13.
  16. Their tribute", The Kadina and Wallaroo Times, 6 June 1947, p. 1.
  17. Kneebone, H. "Ex-Cricketer's Death", The Advertiser, 2 June 1947, p. 12.
  18. Sando, p. 49.


  • Sando, G. (1997) Grass Roots: 100 Years of Adelaide District Cricket 1897–1997, South Australian Cricket Association: Adelaide. ISBN 1 86254 435 2.
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