FORTY YEARS OF CRICKET.
Br W. G. Gra£C
No. XXXHL— Cmokbt in my Manhood. (Continued.) It hoe never been • very pleasant occupation to mc to wade through cricket figures and calculate averages, and It is with a sieh of relief that I have finished that part of my work; my readers, I have no doubt, will be relieved also. Still, to get at a dear idea of the progress which the same has made during the last forty years, ft was almost impossible to do otherwise. At the end of 1864 a batting average of twenty-five runs per innings was very exceptional, and rarely accomplished by other than a professional player. Ifc may be explained in this way—that amateur bowling was lamentably weak, while professional bowling was exceptionally strong. The year 1885 saw a slight change. Two or three of the amateurs cave evidence of marked Improvement witn both bat and ball: and, for the flrat time since 1854, the Gentlemen beat the Playere. It will be seen that batting averages leaped up considerably in 1866; seven amateurs had an average of thirty runs and over] per innings, while only one professional reached that figure; and there were fifteen amateurs with an average of over twenty, to four professionals. But the professionals had qnite as great a monopoly of the bowling; thirteen to four was their proportion in that department. And so it went on for twenty yeare ; the amateurs keeping a strong lead with the bat, the professionals with the ball. The year 1885 brought a change. The professionals not only maintained their superiority with the ball, but challenged the supremacy of the amateurs with the bat. For twenty completed innings in firet-class matches, thirteen professionals had an average of over twentj-three runs per innings; while the number of amateurs who had it was only six. Nor was it a mere flash in the pan; for the years 1886 and 1887 saw them still challenging the amateurs for first place in batting honours, while still retaining their I hteh position with the ball. The year 1888 brought the amateurs to the front with the bat again: but 1889 shows it was again a neck-and-neck race between them. Xjever. in any year, have the amateurs had a look-in wi:h the professionals In bowling, so far as numbers are concerned, *n<3 only once or twice have they headed the 11st. Mr A. G. Steel was a very bright spot for them in 1878; while the years 1867,1874,1875, and 1877 were my beet performances, and worthy of being classed with first-class professional bowling. And so we may face the fact that the professional standard of all-round play is higher to-day than at any time since the game began. The professionals are now the equals of the amateurs in batting, but their superiors in bowling. And I am very much afraid it is likely to continue so for a considerable time. Amateur bowling is weaker to-day than it has been for many years, while the outlook for the future is not particularly bright. It used to be said, some twenty years ago, that it was always safe to back the Players against Gentlemen. After 1864 prophets were more modest in their utterances. The last two years have shown that the Player* are taking their old position. A careful reader will have noticed how, bit by bit, travelling elevens lost their attraction, and were gradually, but surely, effaced by the growing and absorbing interest taken in county contests. The explanation of it is a very simple one. In the case of the former, a close and exciting match, against varying odds, was the exception, and rarely did any member of the teams give a first-class display either of batting or bowling. Too much care had to be observed in batting, while carelessness was engendered in Dowling. In the caw of the latter, it was a fight between man and man, every member of the team feeling that he wa» fighting for something more than mere individual reputation. And so county contests grew in favor, and to-day they ase as attractive as an Australian match, or the Gentlemen v. Players, and North v. South matches. The history of county cricket U worthy of a book to itself, and cannot have justice done to It here. Surrey, Sussex, Kent, Middlesex, Hampshire, and Nottinghamshire have been in existence for more than one hundred years; and all of them at one time or another, were strong enough to play an Eleven of England. But county cricket pure and simple may be said to have reached its natural and highest development in the last twenty years. Yorkshire was established in the early nart of the present century, Lancashire in 1884 and Gloucestershire and erbyshire in 1870. How those counties have fought against each other with varying success can be seen from the yearly results I have given Between 1870 and 1880 Notts stands out pre-eminently amongst the first-class counties, having been at the heaoVotthe list eight times, while it has divided twice or Jtbrlce with Lancashire and Surrey. Gloucestershire comes next, and Surrey and Lancashire follow afterwards. I shall not trouble my readers by saying much about the future of the counties. Nottand Surrey's prospects are as bright to-day as at any time in their history; but, then, the brightest prospects have often been shattered in cricket, and many a county that was expected to ao well has done ill. It is never safe to prophesy where the unexpected happens so often. Counties in the South have greater difficulties to contend against in obtaining first-class bowlers than the counties in the North, but all of them are striving their utmost to meet the difficulty and to keep their position in contests which are now looked upon as the most exciting of afl, and which have become the backbone of the game. Cbickbtkbs X Have Met.
Moredead Sherwin was born at Hionber-: ley, NottinghamaJilre,23chFebraary,lßsL His height is sft. 9iin.; weight I7st. 41bs. He is ooe of the very best wicket-keepers in England at the present time. His pluck has been tried against all kinds x>f bowlI leg, and it has never failed him. Herd work he likes, and hard work seems to like-him; for hie big, burly figure has been seen behind the stumps in first-class cricket for fifteen years, and his powers to-day show no abatement. For so heavy ' a man he Is surprisingly active, and the player who thinks he can steal a shore run on account of it is hugely mistaken, i He can spring from the wicket as quickly I as α-mofd aleaderly-built m&n, aad he is always on the alert for any attempt of the 1 kind; He makes little show in taking the baJL and is asqoiclc on the leg-side as on the off: and he has a wonderfully safe pair i of hands fofa catch. From 1876 to the end of 1889 be haa a i very fine record for his county, having 134 and stumped 93; his' most successful yea? being ISSVtrhsnhe caagfae L9S and atsmped it Wkss it Is remembered that he captained bis coaaty that seasoo the record becomes all fch© more remarkable, for few players can take that responsibility on tbefr shoulders and play up to tiieir bist fo?aa. But Sherwin'a powers seem to baia no way affected by it; for he is as brilliant as he was afe any timp is bis career, wbue he ia held in very high esteem as & captain. I need hardly say that be has represented the > ' PehUshfldey p*dal»m«s»!aeeti villi «h«
Player* v. Gentlemen on several occasions, and fitidand v. Australia, and that In theae *«fches h» lie* been very seccess■n of _"* VArT M« hftfc also: and when ?&cbJheluj^tlablv Wane. He eseo* 'teamflu* v&tad A«*«si* to J^.* Williaw Barnea wasJwm afe Satton-JB Ashfieia, the Snbo May 1858. Hehaabeea » hoefe la aimeel S&i cottnSyTbafcting, to*\lnX, aad field* £ak ataeehelfcst plajed SfflTltt Sbi. Hβnaaalso done excellent work for the M.C.C., the Players v. GentleSen, and England v. Australia. His highest score so far is 266 for Jfl.C.O. v. Leicestershire at Lord's in 1883, when Midwinter aad be scored «3 w» before they were parted In the remarkably quick tim#of fireanda bajf hour*. down to the end of J§Bo, $xsefde4 tb* century in an innings on twenty -six occasions : twelve times for the Ikp.O, eleven times for his county, once for the Players, once for England *. Aua'rfUa, and once for England v. Eighteen of Bendigp. His batting powers showed no decline In 1«W, f,or It will be seen that his average in first class matches was a very fine one; dp complete innings, 1249 runs, average 34.25. Be cannot be called a graceful batsman; but he has excellent defence, and watches the ball very carefully. He is a much faster scorer than the average professional, his hitting to the off and cutting being exceptionally good; and he keeps the ball well down. \ As a bowler he ha? also been very successful, and at times unplayable. He bowls round-arm, faster than medium pace, with a bigb delivery, and breaks slightly from the off. Often when the wicket was in a crumbling condition he did exceptionally good performances. Two of. $hem were for the Players v Gentlemen in 1887 at Lord's. In the first inning* he captured six wickets for 23 runt; in the second, four for 85, Another was his two wickets for Iβ runs for .England v Australia Iα the first innings at the Oval In 1888, and five for 38 in the second.
Be is an excellent fieldsman anywhere, and a very safe catch. His records with both bat and ball are unusually good, and his form to-day very remarkable, considering that he haa completed his 38th year. Mr Alexander Josiah Webbe was born in London on the 16th January, 1835. His height is 5f c Bin; weight, about lljst. He might almost becalleda veteran ; for he has been before the public as a first-class player for more than 17 years. Hβ earned a great school reputation at Harrow, strengthened it by his doings at Oxford, and in 1875, when he first represented the Gentlemen, he played most brilliantly. His fine score against the players, in the second innings, at Lord's that year, will not readily be forgotten for the fine defence and great patience he exercised in compiling it, I have had the pleasure of an enjoyable and profitable partnership with him on two or three occasions since; bud do not oelieve he has ever played more finely than he did then, when he was in his 21et year, and was almost a stranger to first-class professional bowling. Morley, A. Shaw, and Hill were at their best; but we put on 203 runs before we were parted; his 65, as well as I can remember, being faultless.
Very few know how successful he has been with the bat. Year after year he has been well up in the averages, and to-day, though he is in his 36th year, he is as safe and effective as ever. When Mr LD. Walker gave up the captaincy of the Middlesex County eleven he took up the responsibility, and ever since he has worked witfi hand , * and head to speed its interests. That he has succeeded everyone will admit, just a* freely as it will be admitted that be is sti 1 one of the moat dangerous batvnen in England. His style cannot be called graceful, for his position is more crouching than upright at the wicket, but that does not prevent him from playing with a straight bat, or scoring at a great pace. No one watches the ball more carefully, and his quiet way of placing it without any show ia a striking contrast to the vigour of his hitting. Rarely does he allow the ball to pass the bat. With a quick tutn of the wrist he places it without seeming effort, and as he gets well over it, it travels low and safely. The quality of the wicket makes little difference to him, for he is just as safe and effective when it Iβ wet and sticky as when it is dry and fast. He has scored over a hundred runs on many occasions, and is an excellent field close in. His best batting years so far have been: g §Jl £ 1875 M M 26 696 1W 28.20 1876 _ « „. 23 723 109 31.10 1877 *«, w _. 25 651 100 28.1 1878 „ «. 24 588 118 24.12 1879 «. „ «. 23 532 122 23.3 1880 .. .. „ 21 680 132 31.9 1882 •, ■ w » „, 22 660 108* 80 1885 .... .. 24 <J67 ?2 27.19 1887 . .. .26 1211 243 47.23
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Press, Press, Volume XLVIII, Issue 7768, 23 January 1891
FORTY YEARS OF CRICKET. Press, Volume XLVIII, Issue 7768, 23 January 1891
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