Where do you start talking about a man who has had such a positive impact on so many people? Keith Bradshaw led a life rich with achievement, compassion, mentorship, outstanding stewardship and visionary leadership and in so doing he touched the lives of so many others along the way.

Born in Tasmania in 1963, Keith grew up with footy in the winter and cricket in the summer but ultimately it was cricket that won his heart.

A right-handed middle-order batsman, Keith played 25 games for Tasmania between 1984 and 1988, with his proudest moment coming in January 1986 when he was chosen in the Prime Minister’s XI – an achievement that saw him play under captain Allan Border alongside Test greats Steve Waugh, Merv Hughes, Greg Matthews and Tony Dodemaide.

However, Keith’s rise to prominence came not as a player but as a ground-breaking official.  After retiring from first class cricket to pursue his studies in commerce, Keith was working as a partner at Price Waterhouse and Deloitte when he received a game-changing call from a head-hunter.

He always recounted the conversation with a smile when the head-hunter, who had been charged with searching the globe for the best person to lead the MCC said, “not the Melbourne Cricket Club, it’s the Marylebone Cricket Club in London”.

After eight interviews over a five-month period, Keith won the committee over with his presentation and became the first non-Englishman to assume the prestigious role of secretary and Chief Executive Officer of the MCC, an achievement of which he was justifiably proud. The post came with a beautiful house next door to Lord’s, complete with his own personal gate to the ground. In an interview with Richard Earle of The Advertiser, Keith said “living behind the pavilion, the people you meet and having an office overlooking the hallowed turf was such a privilege”.

Keith loved his time at Lord’s, although he always felt compromised when the Ashes were on the line, often seen clapping vigorously for an Australian wicket or boundary, alongside his English guests in the MCC secretary’s box.  His love for his country never waned and so when the Chief Executive position came up at SACA in 2011, he realised the time was right to return to Australia. His desire to be home with family and to look after his brother, who has special needs, following the sudden death of his mother was a major consideration.

So, it was in November 2011, that Keith rekindled his love affair with Adelaide Oval, which as a player he considered his favorite, amidst memories of clean bowling David Hookes for 37 and spending two days in the field with Tasmania during the record 462 partnership of Hookes and Wayne Phillips.

Early in the role as SACA Chief Executive, Keith’s was instrumental in orchestrating the change in SACA’s mindset from being an association which ran Adelaide Oval to being a 50 per cent partner with the SANFL in an impressive, redeveloped stadium. When it officially opened in March 2013, he was focused on ensuring SA cricket prospered well into the future by setting long-term objectives that would underpin the growth of the sport, from grassroots to elite level.

One of the achievements of which Keith was most proud is the progression in the number of female players enjoying our great game, as supported by his decision to make Andrea McCauley’s role as coach of the Scorpions a full-time position and ensuring female participation became a key focus for the organisation.  Keith’s commitment was made clear by his decision to fly to Sydney for the Scorpions final, despite a scheduling clash with day three of the world’s first day-night Test match at the Adelaide Oval, a format he had pioneered. He was there to watch the Scorpions win their first Women’s National Cricket League championship in 2015-16, ending New South Wales 10-year domination, at the time claiming: “It was the most enjoyable day of cricket I have ever attended.”

As with any sport, there are triumphs and tribulations, but when it comes to latter Keith was always focused on defining solutions. Whilst disappointed not to secure any silverware with the Redbacks, after two Sheffield Shield finals in consecutive years, we know Keith will be with the boys in spirit as they look to improved results into the future under the charge of Jason Gillespie and a new direction Keith was involved in setting.

The success of the Big Bash is also set to continue, with The Adelaide Strikers setting the benchmark for match day colour and excitement during Keith’s tenure, as the most attended team in the competition. The New Year’s Eve clash at Adelaide Oval, followed by a spectacular concert and lighting show has become a much-loved tradition. The men’s and women’s teams have both played in winning finals.

The toughest day of Keith’s career with SACA came with the tragic on-field death of Phillip Hughes. Keith’s true leadership qualities shone through that devastating day, consoling and leading from the front. It wasn’t until he finished a media conference and had a quiet moment with a fellow staff member that, he let his emotions out. It was a great trait of Keith that he always put others ahead of himself. He was a true leader.

Keith’s lasting legacy in world cricket will always be the development of the pink ball and the stunning spectacle of day-night Test cricket. The world witnessed what Keith envisaged all those years earlier when Australia beat New Zealand in the first Test under lights at Adelaide Oval in November 2015. He always said the people would vote with their feet and this is exactly what happened. The first day-night Ashes clash delivered the highest single day and total match attendance in SACA’s history, beating the Bodyline Test of 1933.

There would not be a person who has met Keith and has not been impressed with his interest in others and his unwavering humility. He was known for walking along and talking to members lining up before a day at the Test, be that in Adelaide or during his time at Lord’s. The esteem in which he was held by MCC members was never more evident than during the Ashes Test at Lord’s in 2019 when members of an Adelaide touring party, wearing SACA shirts, were stopped by English fans asking about the health and wellbeing of Mr Bradshaw. And it was not one or two, but many. The same occurs with SACA Members when they call the Membership team and often say “ask Keith, he knows me from the line at the Test”.

During his time at Lord’s Keith considered himself fortunate to have hosted the Queen and Prince Phillip and spent time in the Royal Box at Wimbledon.  He also formed enduring relationships across the globe, with Michael Parkinson, Stephen Fry, David Gower, Sir Tim Rice, Sir Clive Lloyd and Sachin Tendulkar considered special friends. In fact, Sachin had the code to Keith’s security gates, so he was always certain of a good car park.

Ian McLachlan in a recent text message to Keith said, “I often think about our first telephone call and thinking about whether we could entice an MCC CEO to Adelaide, well it turned out to be the best decision SACA ever made”.

Keith’s illness, Multiple Myeloma, was diagnosed when he was in England 13 years ago. He approached his illness with the same courage and determination that is evident throughout his life, defying his early prognosis by more than double. You never heard him complain. He would step out of meetings and go into the Adelaide Oval medical room to receive chemotherapy treatment and then head back to the office. Most people would not have known what Keith was going through.

Keith has made such an impact on SACA in so many ways but clearly the most significant was transforming SACA into a supportive, inclusive family – a place where we all care for one another and look out for each other.  This is a direct result of his style of leadership, his caring nature and his love for his staff. And in return the SACA staff don’t just love Keith, they adore him.

SACA President Andrew Sinclair paid this tribute:

“Keith commenced as Chief Executive at the SACA in 2012 and he quickly gained trust and respect from all who dealt with him. The remarkable thing with Keith was how consistent that respect was expressed internationally and not just within cricket circles. Keith’s reputation preceded him and on arrival he delivered much for the SACA Membership of which many may not be aware. His ability to access international cricket contacts has enormously enhanced the SACA Membership experience over the past nearly 10 years.” 

“He could be a tough negotiator when fighting for the SACA cause, yet always treating people with respect and commanding that from others.”

“His demeanor was one of quietly, efficiently and enthusiastically completing tasks assigned to him. He frequently talked of surrounding himself with a great team. That was in huge part due to his personable approach, leadership style and simply absolute decency to others. An extraordinary fighter through his considerable health challenges.”

Keith was awarded SACA Life Membership on June 22nd this year whilst in Hospital. He was presented the award from a vantage point overlooking Karen Rolton Oval where all of the SACA staff had gathered to be part of the occasion. He sent a message to staff afterwards saying how proud he was to receive the honour, saying he was most likely the first person to receive SACA life membership wearing shorts and ugg boots.

Keith always said, “I have had the pleasure to be in charge of the two greatest cricket grounds in the world”.

But, in reality, it’s the two greatest cricket grounds in the world who were fortunate to have Keith Bradshaw as part of their history.

In a lovely tribute to Keith, a SACA and MCC flag will be flying at half-mast above the Adelaide Oval scoreboard, a gesture being replicated at Lords.