The South Australian Cricket Association unveiled a life-size bronze sculpture of one of the world’s best all-rounders, George Giffen at Adelaide Oval on Day 5 of the Australia v India Test Match – Saturday, 13 December.
Born in South Australia on 27 March, 1859, Giffen was described as Australia’s W.G. Grace after recording the greatest performance in first-class cricket, scoring 271 and taking 16 wickets for 166 for South Australia against Victoria in November 1891.
As a forcing batsman, bowling medium-paced off-breaks and cutters, Giffen came to notice as a 15-year-old net bowler against Grace in 1874 and made his colonial debut at 18 in SA’s initial first-class match against Tasmania in 1877.
He toured England five times in 1882, 1884, 1886, 1893 and 1896. In 1883-84 he was the first Australian bowler to take 10 wickets in an innings when he captured 10 for 66 for an Australian XI against a Combined XI at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
He became the first Australian to reach the Test double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets, and he remains the only Australian-based player to score 10,000 runs and take 1000 wickets in first-class cricket.
In 31 Test matches over 15 years, Giffen made 1238 runs at 23.35 with one century and took 103 wickets at 27.09. He played 251 first-class matches in 26 years scoring 11,758 runs at 29.54 with 18 centuries and taking 1023 wickets at 21.29. He was an SA selector from 1890 to 1893, in 1897-98 and from 1900 to 1904.
For his grade club Norwood, his 296 against South Adelaide in 1890 was the highest club score in the nineteenth century, while his most outstanding all-round effort was in 1893 when he took all 10 wickets (for 149) against Adelaide and then carried his bat through the innings for 172 not out.
Former SACA President Ian McLachlan and long-standing SACA Board Member John Bannon unveiled the sculpture, with current President Andrew Sinclair and benefactor Basil Sellers AM.
The two-metre high piece is located in the western Stand atrium. South Australian sculptor Judith Rolevink, has spent the past six months completing the work. “He has been re-created with the same steely-eyed determination, contemplating his next delivery, as his opponents would have seen back then,” she said.
Other work includes private and public commissions in collections in the UK, Netherlands and Australia. She has created large public works for churches, including the over life size bronzes of Mary MacKillop for Adelaide Catholic Cathedral and North Sydney’s Mary MacKillop Place.
The artwork has been donated by noted philanthropist Mr. Sellers, as part of an ongoing project to secure 10 significant pieces of art throughout venues across Australia. Previous sculptures at Adelaide Oval include Darren Lehmann, Jason Gillespie and Barrie Robran.