An ignominious day in Australian sporting history more than 84 years ago will have an unlikely family sequel when 19-year-old Jack Bowes makes his AFL debut for the Gold Coast Suns in QClash 13 at Metricon Stadium Saturday evening.
In a little-known fact most appealing to elderly cricket fans and historic or statistical aficionados, it has been revealed that Bowes is a direct descendent of former English Test fast bowler Bill Bowes. He is Bowes’ great nephew.
And why is Bill Bowes famous?
Because in the Bodyline Test cricket series of 1932-32, best remembered for the intimidating manner in which the Englishmen bowled at the Australian batsmen, Bowes dismissed the great Don Bradman for a first ball duck.
It was 30 December 1932 at the MCG when Bowes, a right-arm fast bowler, knocked over the stumps of the then 24-year-old Bradman to inflict the first Test duck of his career.
That Bradman had scored 299 not out in his previous Test innings, and would follow his first innings duck with a match-winning 103 not out in the second innings, is not so readily remembered.
But history records vividly how the packed MCG crowd sat in stunned silence as the greatest batsman of all-time trudged off the ground.
This quirky fact was uncovered recently by Age football writer and SEN commentator Rohan Connolly in a recent interview with 19-year-old Bowes.
It is a story that goes even further.
Bowes, originally from Cairns, lives on the Gold Coast with his grandfather John, who is he Yorkshire-born cousin of Bill Bowes.
Connolly recently recounted a couple of stories the Suns teenager has John, who himself was a handy cricketer.
Explained the Suns youngster: “One day when I was 12, we were playing cricket in the backyard. I’m 12, and John’s like 60-something and he’s got Parkinson’s.
“I’ve come in and let one go, and he’s just square-driven me for four … never seen the ball again. The neighbours were watching upstairs. They say they’ve never forgotten that moment.
“I remember when I was in year four, I had to do an assignment on an inspirational person, that’s when Mum and Dad brought it up,” young Bowes said too.
“So I got on Wikipedia to look it up and from there they told me the whole story about Bill. I was pretty amazed. It was pretty cool.”
To use his own vernacular, Bowes, claimed by the Suns at #10 in last year’s NAB AFL National Draft, has been pretty cool, too, in his first few months in the toughest sports competition in the country.
He was the first Queenslander in a decade and only the fifth Queenslander all-time chosen in the top 10 of the draft.
He follows Nick Riewoldt, who was #1 in 2000, David Hale, who was #7 in 2001, Tom Williams, who was #6 in 2004, and David Armitage, who was #9 in 2006.
Bowes was born and raised in Cairns, where he attended St.Augustine’s College. He played his junior football with the Manunda Hawks before switching to the Cairns Football Club and joining the Suns Academy at 13.
In 2014 he made his senior debut for Cairns as a 16-year-old and played in a losing AFL Cairns seniors grand final that year.
He moved to Gold Coast at the beginning of 2015 to increase his draft prospects, playing first with Surfers Paradise in the QAFL and later he Suns Reserves in the NEAFL.
In his 2015 NEAFL debut he had 22 disposals and kicked a goal, and even then the Suns knew they had a beauty.
Last year he skippered the Queensland U18 side, won the Hunter Harrison Medal for the best player in division two at the national championships.
Thereafter he represented the Allies against the division one states, and was the only Queenslander chosen in the All-Australian side.
Bowes was highly rated by AFL Talent Manager Kevin Sheahan long before the draft.
He spoke glowingly of the 188cmk half back flanker’s kicking skills, his excellent combination of speed and endurance, and is composure under pressure’.
Suns coach Rodney Eade, too, became an immediate fan.
“I first became aware of him (in 2015) but didn’t know the extent of how good he could potentially be until (2016),’’ said Eade, speaking before the draft.
“Not only because he made the decision to move from Cairns which showed his commitment, but also to take his game to another level in the carnival to be, what we consider, in the top three players in the draft.
Quite fortuitously, Eade said at the time that Bowes had acquitted himself exceptionally well in the NEAFL last year, and candidly suggested there was no reason he could not push for round one selection.
And so he has.
After an eye-catching JLT Community Series Bowes was named at half back in a Suns side that includes fellow Queenslanders Alex Sexton, Rory Thompson and Jesse Joyce.
There will be six Queenslanders in the Lions side – new captain Dayne Beams, Dayne Zorko, Harris Andrews, Eric Hipwood, Ben Keays and Tom Bell.
By Peter Blucher