Arthur Fielder was one of the early pace bowling legends Photo Courtesy: Evening News, Sydney
Arthur Fielder, who passed away on August 30, 1949, was quite a useful fast bowler. He is also the most accomplished cricketer among those whose names corresponded to major roles in the game. Arunabha Sengupta briefly looks at his career before dwelling on the Fielders, Batters, Bowlers, Stumpers and others of this curious ilk to have played the game.
On August 30, 1949, the Kent and England fast bowler Arthur Fielder passed away at St Thomas’s Hospital in London. And along with him departed perhaps the most accomplished cricketer to boast a name corresponding to one of the main roles of the game.
Fielder, who bowled with searing pace, maintained his line outside the off-stump, broke them back into the batsman and got most of his wickets with the one that swung away. He was one of the first bowlers to operate with a distinguished and crowded slip cordon, with JR Mason, KL Hutchings, Frank Woolley and James Seymour standing alert for Kent. Fred Huish kept wickets and caught plenty off him with quiet assurance, little flourish and almost no blemish. So, Fielder did have a role to play in the development of this crucial aspect of fielding.
Before we move on to the other men of his curious ilk, it is worthwhile to mention a few of Fielder’s major achievements. In 1906 he took all ten wickets in an innings for the Players against the Gentlemen at Lord’s, the only instance this has been achieved in the traditional fixture. He went on to take 186 wickets in that season and Kent won their first County championship. Fielder was named one of the Wisden cricketers of 1907.
He also toured Australia twice and played all his six Test matches in that land. His six for 82 and three for 88 at Sydney in 1907 stood out as his most notable performance, even though the tourists lost the close Test by two wickets. In 1909, he came in to bat for Kent against Worcestershire with the score reading 320 for nine and added 235 with Woolley, his own share being 112 not out.
There are a few other ‘Fielders’ who made top grade in cricket, but did not really match his exploits. Another Kent man of a century earlier, Richard Fielder, played 20 First-Class games. He turned out for Kent, West Kent, Surrey and England between 1791 and 1801 and played ostensibly as a batsman while averaging 7.59.
Then there were the two Hampshire men; Albert Fielder played three matches in the days leading to the First World War as a medium pacer with limited success, while Walter Fielder turned out once against Leicestershire in 1923, batting at No 11 and sending down seven overs without a wicket.
Coming to the other roles on the cricket ground, one cannot find any Batsman to have played the game. Neither is there any Batter. The closest is another Kent man called Thomas Battersbee who played one First Class match in 1822 and scored an unbeaten 13.
Moving on to the Bowlers, we come across Peter Duncan Bowler who played 318 First Class matches and scored at an impressive average of 40.51 with 45 centuries. Starting as an Australian junior player, he turned out for Leicestershire, moved to Tasmania, spent seven summers for Derbyshire and the last ten for Somerset before bowing out in 2004. However, in spite of his name, his off-spinners got him just 34 wickets at an expensive 60 apiece. A passing mention must be made here of Nikki Bowler, who played six limited over matches for Derbyshire women between 2002 and 2003.
As for the other roles, we have to delve deeper into the archives to find one J Slipper who turned out for the Gentlemen of Middlesex in 1867 and William Gully who played for Quidnuncs in the 1850s. Neither of these gentlemen could make their ways into the pastures of First Class cricket.
It is admittedly asking for a bit too much to stumble upon Wicketkeepers. There is only one D Stumpers who played a game for the Wanneroo against Joondalup in Perth First Grade cricket in 2000. He picked up two wickets and a catch and scoring eight from the lower order. His teammates included the Hussey brothers David and Mike, but the side scored just 93 and had to follow on. Stumpers managed to get the illustrious ‘b Tyson’ against his name, although the ball was delivered by some obscure R Tyson.
Hence, we see that none of the cast of curious characters can really be said to have fulfilled the roles as suggested by their names. Moving slightly away from the middle, honorary mention may be made of Reginald Scorer, who played 29 matches for Warwickshire as an all-rounder in the 1920s. Among this motley ensemble, Arthur Fielder remains the only Test cricketer — the others did not really come all that close.
(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)