Australia'Bruce Yardley, At The Age Of 71 > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Australia's Bruce Yardley passes away, aged 71

He finished his Test career with 978 runs and bagged 126 wickets.

Bruce Yardley, the former Australia spin bowler, passed away in Western Australia after a lengthy battle with cancer at the age of 71.

Yardley, born in Midland, started his career as a medium pacer and occasionally also bowled offspin. It was only at the age of around 27 that Yardley switched completely to bowling offspin. The Western Australia, who used his middle finger to bowl spin, made his first-class debut in December 1966 against Queensland. He snared the lone wicket of the opener, John Loxton, in that game.

Yardley had to wait nearly four more years for his next first-class game against Victoria. Initially, he found success hard to come by, evidenced by the fact that he had scored only 246 runs and picked up six scalps in his first 14 first-class games. Eventually, during the 1976-77 season, Yardley took his game to an elevated level, ending up with 19 wickets at a shade under 26. The highlight of his breakthrough season was the six-for he took against New South Wales at the SCG. He also cracked a vital hand of 97 in WA's second essay.

With a slew of Australia's main players joining the World Series Cricket - Karry Packer's breakaway tournament - Yardley was included in Australia's Test side for the series against India in 1977-78. He had a good time in the West Indies in 1977-78 when he took 15 wickets at 25.13.

He also showed his worth with the bat by composing aggressive hands of 74 and 43 against the likes of Andy Roberts, Colin Croft and Joel Garner in Barbados. The Wisden called it as "unorthodox but effective aggression". One of Yardley's signature shots was a chip over the slip cordon and the stroke came to be known as "Yardley Yahoo". He forced opposition sides to employ the fly slip to counter the particular shot.

Yardley was at his peak during the 1981-82 season when he finished with 18, 20 and 13 scalps against Pakistan, West Indies and New Zealand respectively. During that period, he also snared his only 10-wicket haul in a Test match against the West Indies at the SCG. Yardley also stood up against his old foes - Michael Holding, Sylvester Clark, Garner and Croft - to essay a crucial 32-ball 45.

Despite taking seven wickets during the one-off Test versus Sri Lanka in 1982-83, the offspinner was soon left out of the side and in 1983, decided to retire from the game. He finished his Test career with 978 runs and bagged 126 wickets.

However, he made a surprise comeback during the 1989-90 season and represented WA against Tamil Nadu in the MG Kailis-Kemplast Trophy. He played his final first-class game versus South Australia during that season.

Post retirement, he became a commentator and coached Sri Lanka from 1996 to 1998, and was a staunch supporter of Muttiah Muralitharan's action.

"Bruce was a significant figure in Australian cricket, contributing in many ways on and off the field," Cricket Australia noted. "As a player, it took him more than ten years of persistence playing First-Class and Premier cricket to find the art of off-spin, earning him a Test debut at the age of 30.

"Bruce's bowling dominates his career highlights with 126 Test wickets, holding the mantle as Australia's most successful Test off-spinner before being surpassed by Nathan Lyon. He was also an excellent fielder and handy batter, holding the record for the quickest Test fifty for 38 years.

"Off the the field, Bruce had an infectious personality and was regarded as one of the best spin-bowing coaches in the world, coaching Sri Lanka and mentoring the greatest Test wicket-taker of all time, Muttiah Muralitharan."

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