This is the story of two close friends who on the 9th March 1940 made cricket history.
Cecil Kenney was born at Failford in 1909.1 With four brothers, he had plenty of company for cricket games, along with his father Eugene. He attended the small one-teacher school at Kimbriki, where his father was principal.2 Moving to Taree he became a member of Taree Cricket Club and quickly made a name as a forceful right hand opening batsman and a polished wicket keeper. He was an automatic selection for the Manning in the annual Country Week carnivals in Sydney.3
Mervyn Humphries was born in 1914 and commenced playing senior cricket at age 16.4 He was prominent locally and also represented the district in the Country Week carnivals. At age 17, he topped the batting average for the Mid North Coast team at Country Week. In the same season, in club cricket, he was leading run getter with 581 runs.5
On the 9th March 1940, Cecil Kenney and Merv Humphries were the opening batsmen for Taree in the Manning River District Cricket Association’s first grade final against Wingham. Played on Wingham’s Central Park, these two fine cricketers set a new Australian record by amassing 485 runs in an opening partnership. The partnership still remains the highest recorded in the Manning. With a team total of 670 runs Taree easily won the premiership.6
Both men served in WWII and afterwards returned to Taree to once again take up cricket.7 After successful cricket careers, they went on to excel in other sports. A heart condition cut Cecil’s life short at age 59 but Merv lived to be 94.8
Author: Les Eastaway
Further information: Book ‘Les Eastaway, Cricket in the Manning 1893-2015.’
1 NSW BDM, Birth Index for Cecil D Kenney, 1909, No. 42171.
2 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 26 August 1944, 1.
3 Les Eastaway, Cricket in the Manning 1893-2015, pages 83, 134.
4 NSW BDM, Birth index for Mervyn A Humphries, 1914, No. 31867.
5 Les Eastaway, Cricket in the Manning 1893-2015, pages 84, 134.
6 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 13 March 1940, 3.
7 Northern Champion, 19 May 1943, 2.
8 NSW BDM, Death Index for Cecil Desmond Kenney, 1968, No. 26870; The Ryerson Index, Mervyn Alexander Humphries, Manning River Times, 21 April 2009.