Cricket matches,  especially Ashes series, do not usually engender  goodwill between Australia and England. However, as Christmas approached in 1932, Australia made a remarkable gesture. A giant, Ashes themed   cake was sent to London to be distributed to the city’s hospitals and children’s homes . It weighed half a ton, and only Australian ingredients were used. Admittedly  it was a great advertisement for this country’s   produce such as dried fruits, sugar,  butter etc.

The interesting thing was that the  cake  was a replica of the Sydney Cricket Ground, complete with grandstands, the scoreboard, and the crowd on The Hill. Sugary figures stood in position  on the field, with  Santa  as  umpire and a kangaroo bowling to a lion.  Note the placard in the following photo reading  ‘One up to England‘.  This related to the fact that England had already thrashed us in the first  test.


The Christmas Cricket Cake.

Cutting the cake

The Lady Mayoress, Lady Greenaway, was given the honour of cutting the cake. She used a gold knife  (see above) sent along by none other than the King. It had been used at the Royal dinner table on Christmas day the previous year. With the first plunge of the knife Lady Greenaway broke the stumps, declaring cheekily; ‘That is Bradman, out for a ‘duck’ in the next test.

The Aussies felt they could afford to be magnanimous over that First Test loss, because star batsman Don Bradman was unwell and didn’t play. Mind you, the abrasive English captain Douglas Jardine riled the public by suggesting  that The Don’ had suffered a nervous breakdown! In fact, he was just a bit burnt-out from too much cricket and had been advised by his doctors to take a break.

The Don


English cricket captain Douglas Jardine

Douglas Jardine


In Australia it was felt that the result would be very different when the world’s best batsman walked onto the field,  But  guess what?  In the first   innings of that second test, Bradman actually  was out for a bloomin’ duck. Facing a delivery from Bill Bowes he lofted the ball over his shoulder and straight into his stumps!  🦆 😨  Here is exactly what happened. It’s an extract from Bowe’s obituary in the cricketing bible Wisden.

At Melbourne in the Second Test, Bradman who had missed the First Test, came in to such tumultuous applause that Bowes had to stop in the middle of his run for it to subside, and to fill in time he moved mid-on to silly mid-on. Again he started, again he had to stop, and this time he moved his deep fine leg. He noticed that Bradman followed these moves with grave attention and he felt sure that he was expected to bowl a bouncer. So he ran up with his most threatening expression, but instead of digging the ball in he deliberately bowled one little more than stump high. Bradman, already halfway in position to hook, had suddenly to alter his stroke, and in doing so pulled the ball into his wicket.

OMG!! Talk about the curse of the Lord Mayor’s Lady. Despite The Don’s rare failure, Australia won the Second Test, but subsequently  lost the series in a complete drubbing 4 – 1.


During the series, Jardine’s infamous ‘bodyline’ strategy targeting batsmen created fury in Australia. The situation became so bad that it threatened to cause a serious diplomatic incident between the two nations.

Perhaps dealing with it on the field would have been better, as illustrated in the following cartoon. Not that I’m one to promote violence, but…..

There was never another cricket inspired Christmas cake sent to London (what a surprise!).  However, 90 years on I have created the perfect follow-up.  In the current era of technology Bradman may well have had that unfortunate ‘duck dismissal’ reviewed.   🎄🏏


Christmas cricket cake mark II

A successful review!


NOTE – Most of the information for this article came from TROVE, the wonderful, free archive of Australian newspapers.


Leave a Reply

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.