GREAT SUSSEX PLAYER FORMER AUCKLAND COACH A. E. RELF'S PERFORMANCES The death of A. E, Relf, at the comparatively early age of 62, will be deeply regretted throughout the cricket world and also'in Auckland, for which province he did yeoman service as a coach. , A coaching engagement with the Earl of Wilton, at Houghton Hall, gave Relf a residential qualification for Norfolk, one of the minor or second class counties in English cricket, and for that county he had a batting average of 47 in 1899. The following year he was engaged by the Sussex County Club and began his real career in first-class cricket, but shone more as a batsman than as a bowler. However, by 1903 his bowling had considerably improved and, he headed the Sussex averages, taking 91 wickets in county matches. His work greatly impressed Rangitsinhji and C. 8., Fry and at the end of that season, chiefly on their recommendation, he wqjs picked by the M.C.C. to go to Australia. In the seasons 1900, 1902, 1904, 1905 and 1906 he made over 1000 runs, and in 1903, 1904, 1905 and 1906 he took over 100 wickets. As he was a brilliant fieldsman in the slips he proved to be, I year after year, one of the mainstays of the Sussex eleven as an all-round man. In addition to his skill as a player Relf had proved himself to be a firstclass coach both in England and overseas. Consequently, when at the close of the 1906 English cricket season Lord .Hawke received a request from Auckland to secure and send out the best player-coach available, his choice fell upon Albert Relf, who arrived in Auckland in November, 1906. • That something had to be done by Auckland to improve its standing in cricket in New Zealand was very obvious, because in eight matches played during the last two southern tours, Auckland had suffered defeat in seven (Otago, Canterbury, Wellington and Hawke's Bay in 1900-1901 and all except Hawke's Bay in 1905-6). During the season 1906-7 Relf played in club matches in Auckland, but Auckland had no inter-provincial match that season.
In Relf's second season, 1907-8, Auckland challenged Canterbury for the Plunket Shield, which had been awarded to the latter province for the best performances during the previous season. The match was played nt.Hagley Park, Christchurch, and only L.. G. Hentusj A. Haddon, W. B. Smith and J. Hussey, of the Auckland team which suffered defeat at the hands of Canterbury, at Christchurch, in 1906 played for Auckland on this occasion. Another member of the earlier team, B. Lusk, was now a Canterbury player and its opening batsman. Auckland made 539 (A. E. .Relf 157, L. G. Hemus 148, W. B. Smith 53, A. Hadden 36, J. Hussey 32, G. B. Cuntmings 31), and beat Canterbury, 190 and 214 (H. B. Lusk 66 and 27, D. Reese 26 and 42, W. 11. Patrick 26 and 10, S. Orchard 19 and 51), by an innings and 135 runs. Relf took six wickets for 64 and two for 48. This was Relf's first Plunket Shield match. Afterwards he played in six others, making seven during his four seasons' play in New Zealand, none of which was lost by Auckland. The following table shows the matches played, and Relf's batting and bowling figures in each:— Batting Bowling R. W. 1007—Canterbury .. 157 64 6 1008—Qtago .. 42 22 0 83 25 6 64 65 1 8 35 4 1009—Canterbury ~41 42 7 TTT , 11 59 6 Wellington ~19 41 5 19 1 19.10—Canterbury 87 23 1 44 4 Otago .. 118 69 3 5 0 580 561 51 Batting average, 58 (10 innings for 5S0); bowling average, 11 (51 wickets for 561).
At the conclusion of each of his four seasons in Auckland Relf returned to England and continued to perform well for Sussex as an all-round player. In addition to playing for England in Australia in 1903-4, he represented his country abroad against South Africa in 1905-6 and in 1913-14, and also played for England against Australia in England in 1909. He was one of the "Five Cricketers of the Year" in 1914. In first-class matches he scored 1846 runs with an average of nearly 32, and took 141 wickets for just over 18 runs each. The advent of S. F. Barnes kept Relf out of England's side after 1909. In 1921 (his benefit year with Sussex), when lie was 47 years old, Relf scored 719 runs at an average of 39.94 per innings and took 38 wickets at the low cost of 16.28 runs each—a very creditable closure cf his 21 years' membership of the Sussex County Cricket Eleven. So highly were his services valued by his county that he continued to coach the eleven at the beginning of each season as well as to carry on his work at Wellington College, where he was held in high esteem.
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New Zealand Herald, New Zealand Herald, Volume LXXIV, Issue 22709, 22 April 1937
CRICKETER'S DEATH New Zealand Herald, Volume LXXIV, Issue 22709, 22 April 1937
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