Hubble the hero for WA Sheffield Shield triumph
Jim Hubble was the surprise hero of WA’s astonishing Sheffield Shield triumph in 1972-73.
A lively all-rounder who bowled brisk left-arm seamers with a whippy action and hit strongly from the lower order, Hubble died this week after a long illness. He was 80.
A back injury prevented Hubble making his Test debut against South Africa at Port Elizabeth in 1966-67.
By the time he recovered, Neil Hawke had cemented his place as Graham McKenzie’s opening partner.
“Bobby Simpson told me I’d done enough to play but I hurt my back before the Test,” Hubble told this reporter in 2001.
“By the time I was fit, Hawke had confirmed his spot and that was it for me.”
But Hubble had two other moments that were critical to WA’s cricket history.
In 1967-68, he was due to open the bowling in the second innings against Victoria at the WACA Ground but a long-term ankle injury flared and he had to give the ball to Ian Brayshaw who promptly claimed 10-44.
PICTURE: Hubble front second from right.
The ankle injury, sustained when he broke the joint in four places while at Perth Modern School, forced him out of the WA team for five seasons.
But in 1972-73, five West Australians were picked for the Test tour of the West Indies and a host of newcomers – including George Young, Graham House and Dennis Baker – were charged with winning the three matches required to secure the shield.
Hubble was also recalled and responded with a pair of wickets and an unbeaten 33 to overcome Victoria, a career-best bowling effort of 3-35 and 7-49 to go with 46 not out in another crucial partnership against Queensland, and then 2-29 and 3-73 in the tight win over South Australia.
“That 46 was probably the highlight of my career,” he said. “I hurt my shoulder on the last ball of the day trying to slide in to make my ground and I couldn’t even lift it the next morning.
“I had a couple of needles and then everything went right.”
Hubble’s remarkable comeback brought 17 wickets at 17 and a batting average of 105.
He played 15 matches over a decade, scoring 234 runs at 21 and taking 47 wickets at 30, with a record that does not do justice to his impact and value.
Hubble’s sporting genes were passed on to son Jarrad, who played 57 WAFL matches for Subiaco and Claremont, and daughter Kate who was a Hockeyroos goal-keeper.