Robert James Lee Hawke (1929-2019) was ACT Cricketer number 270, playing for the ACT in 1956/57 and 1957/58. He was a right handed batsman and wicket-keeper. He played for the ACT on eight occasions, scoring 86 runs with a highest score of 31 against Monaro in 1957/58.
He played 1st Grade for Northbourne in 1956/57 and for Turner in 1957/58. He was in Canberra in 1956 to accept a scholarship to undertake doctoral studies in the area of arbitration law in the Law Department at the Australian National University. He has previously played A Grade cricket in the WACA 1st Grade competition for the University of Western Australia in 1948/49 and 1949/50.
He played in 20 1st Grade matches, 11 for Northbourne in 1956/57 and 9 for Turner in 1957/58. He scored 416 runs in 1956/57 for Northbourne at 27.73 and 179 runs at 17.90 for Turner in 1957/58. He was the third highest run scorer in 1st Grade in 1956/57, only 12 runs behind the leading run scorer. Overall he scored 595 runs in 1st Grade at an average of 23.80 with two fifties. His highest score was 84 against RMC in 1956/57 at Reid Oval.
The following year (1957), he abandoned his studies when he was recommended to the ACTU to become research officer with the organisation. This was to put him on the path to become President of the ACTU. He later became the Member of the House of Representatives for the Victorian seat of Wills in 1980, then leader of the Australian Labor Party in 1983 and then defeated Malcolm Fraser to become the 23rd Prime Minister of Australia.
While undertaking his Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, Hawke came close to representing the University in first-class cricket, playing in selection trial matches and the University 2nd XI.
One of his first acts after being Prime Minister was the resurrection of the Prime Minister’s XI series of matches against touring sides. The first match in the modern era of the series was played in January 1984 when the West Indies played the PM’s XI at Manuka Oval. The PM’s XI side was captained by Kim Hughes and contained Greg Chappell and Dennis Lillee in their last season of international cricket. The match was dominated by a young David Boon who scored 134 off 136 balls. The match was won by the PM’s XI by 52 runs and was the first match in the modern era which has continued uninterrupted since.
He hosted his last Prime Minister’s XI match on December 17, 1991 against India, just two days before he was defeated for the leadership of the Australian Labor Party by former Treasurer Paul Keating.
In 1983, Bob Hawke played for the Parliamentary Cricket side in their annual match against the Press, a match dating back to 1946/47 when former Test batsman and then reporter Jack Fingleton inaugurated the match. The following season, at Kingston Oval, went down in history when Hawke had his glasses smashed when attempting a hook/pull stroke. Fragments of his glasses went into his right eye and he had to attend hospital before returning to the match.
He captained two Prime Minister’s XI matches in matches against the Australian Aboriginal side, prior to and after their side’s tour of England in 1988. In the 1988 match, he was dismissed for duck and in the 1989 match he was dismissed for two. Both matches were played at Manly Oval.
In 1992, the Bob Hawke and Robert Menzies Stands were opened by Bob Hawkes and Dame Patti Menzies in recognition of the two cricket loving Prime Minister who had brought international cricket to Canberra and Manuka Oval.
He was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia in 1979 as well as foreign honours from Thailand, Papua New Guinea and Japan. He was also given honorary degrees from nine different universities from across the globe.
Bob Hawke passed away peacefully in his sleep at his Northbridge home on May 16, 2019 at the age of 89.
Rest in Peace Robert James Lee Hawke