Cricketers who died in World War 1 — Part 5 of 5
Reggie Schwarz was considered one of the ‘googly quartet’ which first established South Africa as a force in world cricket. Picture courtesy: Wikipedia
A hundred years have gone by since the World War I commenced. It was the first great war witnessed by the world, with huge powers clashing with one another for supremacy. What was the price of this conflict? Over a million lives were lost, civilian and military. Great Britain, being a party in the conflict, lost many men. There were some cricketers who also lost their lives in the war. Michael Jones remembers the cricketers who lost their lives in the fifth and final part of this series.
89. Donald Priestley played seven Championship matches for Gloucestershire, scoring a solitary half century: 51 against Hampshire in 1910. He was killed at Passchendaele on 30th October 1917, aged 30.
90. John Raphael played a few matches for London County under WG Grace in 1901 and 1902, but made little impression and, while at Oxford University, initially struggled to get into the first team. He was given a trial against Sussex in 1903, and seized his chance, making 65 out of 123 in the university’s second innings when none of the rest of the top seven reached double figures.
William Findlay, the university’s captain that year, was sufficiently impressed to pick him for the Varsity match, and his faith in Raphael was repaid with an innings of 130 out of 259 on the first day; no-one else scored half as many in the match, and Oxford won easily. The following season he produced the performance of his life for the university against Yorkshire: facing Hirst and Rhodes, and after losing two partners with only a single on the board, he made 201 out of an all out total of 374. He went on to play for Surrey until 1913, but never reached quite the same heights again, scoring only one century in 39 matches for the county to his fourin 19 for the university. He also excelled at rugby, playing nine matches for England as a three-quarter back and captaining the British Lions’ tour of Argentina in 1910, and stood for Parliament at a by-election, but was not elected. He died from wounds received at the Battle of Messines Ridge on 11th June 1917, aged 35.
91. William Riley made himself a footnote in cricket history as the batsman at the other end when Ted Alletson launched his astonishing assault on the Sussex bowlers at Hove in 1911. Riley watched from 22 yards away as Alletson added 142 to his score in just 40 minutes of the afternoon session, including 34 off one over from the hapless Tim Killick; his own contribution to the partnership of 152 was a mere 10*, although it was Riley who then took four for 82 in the home team’s second innings as Nottinghamshire came close to pulling off an improbable victory. Riley never came close to matching Alletson’s feat with the bat – he failed to reach fifty in 110 first-class innings – but he enjoyed considerable success for the county as a left arm slow-medium bowler, with six for 53 and four for 66 against Gloucestershire in 1910, followed by four for 57 and seven for 80 against Leicestershire the next season, a match which Nottinghamshire won by ten wickets; he ended his career with 235 wickets at an average of 23. He was killed near Coxyde, Belgium, on 9th August 1917, two days before his 29th birthday.
92. Francis Roberts was a middle order batsman and occasional bowler for Cambridge University and Gloucestershire. Captaining the county against Surrey in 1909, he came in at 37 for four in the first innings, and scored 88; 47 for four in the second, and made 129. He scored more than 40% of his team’s runs in each innings, but it was not enough to prevent defeat. Further success came against the 1911 All India touring team: after the county trailed by 112 on first innings, he made an unbeaten 154 in the second, achieving in the process the rare feat of outshining Gilbert Jessop, who scored 79 in the same innings. It allowed Gloucestershire the luxury of a declaration, and they came close to victory; the tourists eventually held on at 74 for eight. Against Essex in 1906, he and Edward Dennett bowled unchanged throughout both innings; in the second they shared the wickets equally, with Roberts’s five for 69 the only five wicket haul of his first-class career, but in the first Roberts went wicketless as Dennett took all ten for 40; Gloucestershire won at a canter. He was killed at Ypres on 8th February 1916, aged 33.
93. James Rothery played regularly for Yorkshire from 1903 to 1910. His highest score of 161 came in a rain-affected draw with Kent in 1908, but in his final season he did have the satisfaction of scoring a century in a winning cause: after Wilfred Rhodes had fallen cheaply, Rothery made 134 and David Denton 182 in a partnership of 305 for the second wicket – more than Derbyshire managed in their two innings combined. He died of wounds sustained in action on 2nd June 1919, aged 42.
94. James Ryan played eight Championship matches for Northamptonshire, and once for Ireland against the 1912 South African touring team, without ever making his mark: an innings of 41 against Somerset remained his highest score, and he took four wickets. He was killed at Loos on 25th September 1915, ten days after his 23rd birthday.
95. Oswald Samson was in and out of the Somerset team between 1900 and the start of the War. His only first-class century was a valuable one – at Gloucester in 1903 the home team had been bowled out for just 61 on the first morning; Samson made 105 in Somerset’s reply, the mainstay of a total of 269, and the visitors won by an innings as Beaumont Cranfield and Len Braund bowled unchanged throughout. He died of wounds near Peronne on 7th September 1918, aged 36.
96. Clifford Saville appeared in three matches for Middlesex in 1914; he made 32 against Yorkshire on debut, but failed to match that score in four further innings. He was killed at Fresnoy Le Grand on 8th November 1917, aged 25.
97. Reggie Schwarz was a part of the ‘googly quartet’ which first established South Africa as a force in world cricket (although the term was used for convenience to refer to the four bowlers, in Schwarz’s case it was not strictly accurate: the off-break was his stock ball, and he never turned it the other way). The 11 Tests they are now considered to have played up to the start of 1906 – most of which were not recognised as such at the time – had resulted in one draw, ten defeats, and a number of mind-boggling scorecards setting records which still stand. Little, then, was expected of them when England arrived for a series that year.
It didn’t take long for them to realise they had a fight on their hands: on the first morning of the series, Schwarz, on debut, dismissed Plum Warner for 6 and David Denton for a duck, then took a catch of Aubrey Faulkner to send back Frederick Fane at the other end, leaving the visitors 15 for three. After being rolled over for 91 in their own first innings, South Africa struck back, and a last wicket stand of 48* between Dave Nourse and Percy Sherwell saw them home by one wicket. They went on to win the series 4-1; Schwarz took 18 wickets at an average of 17, while Tip Snooke contributed 24, Jimmy Sinclair 21 and Faulkner 14.
He had a leaner time in England in 1907 (in the Tests at least; on the tour as a whole he picked up 122 wickets at a mere 12 apiece, finishing top of the season’s averages), but hit form again on the tour of Australia in 1910-11 with a further 25 wickets; he reached his peak with six for 47 at Sydney, when his victims included the star-studded quartet of Charlie Macartney, Victor Trumper, Clem Hill and Warwick Armstrong. This time, though, he played a lone hand: Faulkner and Vogler had lean series, while Snooke failed to take a wicket at all. Without the support of his fellow spinners, Schwarz could not have the same impact on the outcome of the series, and South Africa lost 5-0. The 1912 Triangular Tournament was a disaster for Schwarz: after taking three for 142 in the first innings against Australia at Manchester – in which match he was the middle victim of the second of Jimmy Matthews’s two hat tricks – he failed to take another in the tournament, finishing with an average of 76, and never played another Test.
His 55 Test wickets came at an overall average of just under 26; in all first-class matches he took 398 at under 18, with a best of eight for 55 against the Gentlemen of Philadelphia on the Marylebone Cricket Club’s (MCC) 1907 tour of North America. England-born, he had played three international rugby matches for his native country before moving to South Africa. He served on the Western Front, survived the war itself but died in the Spanish flu pandemic on 18th November 1918, aged 43.
98. Ernest Shorrocks played one match for Somerset against Lancashire in 1905, taking two for 60 including the wicket of Dick Spooner. He was killed at Thiepval on 20th July 1916, aged 41.
99. Harvey Staunton had a modest first-class career for Nottinghamshire, recording only two half centuries in 16 matches, with a highest score of 78 against Middlesex in 1904. At Gravesend in 1904 the visiting batsmen had received a peppering from Arthur Fielder, with Joe Hardstaff making a duck and several others receiving blows to the body; after taking one blow from Fielder, Staunton responded by hitting his next four balls for four apiece. He became an army chaplain, and died on service in Mesopotamia on 14th January 1918, aged 47.
100. Allan Steel was the son of the batsman of the same name who scored two centuries for England in the 1880s. The younger Allan had a much briefer career; he played second fiddle in “Fowler’s match” in 1910: after Eton had trailed by 165 on first innings and set Harrow only 55 to win, Robert Fowler did most of the damage with eight for 23, while Steel took two for 12 at the other end to account for the rest, and Eton pulled off an astonishing nine run victory. He went on to play five first-class matches for Middlesex and MCC, but achieved little. He was killed at Langemark on 8th October 1917, aged 25.
101. Frank Street turned out for Essex in nine matches in 1898 and 1899. His highest score of 76 came against Leicestershire in his last match, although it was overshadowed somewhat by 207 from Frederick Fane and 132 by Percy Perrin in the same innings; by the time Street came to the crease at 447 for three, Essex were already more than 250 ahead on first innings. Unsurprisingly, they went on to wrap up an innings victory. He was killed at Ovilliers la Boiselle on 7th July 1916, aged 46.
102. WillliamTyldesley was one of four brothers – Dick, James and Harry were the others – who played for Lancashire in the years preceding the war. He scored just short of 3,000 first-class runs, including three centuries; his best year was 1911, when he narrowly missed out on scoring 1000 runs in the season; he made 108 in the second innings against Somerset, adding 191 with Dick Spooner for the second wicket, before the visitors were skittled for 66 in the fourth innings and lost by the small matter of 423 runs. Later the same summer, after Derbyshire had been bowled out for 66 on the first morning, he piled up 152 in Lancashire’s reply, adding 252 for the second wicket with his unrelated namesake Johnny Tyldesley. He was killed at Kemmel on 26th April 1918, aged 30.
103. Henry Webber made his first century at club level in 1863, and joined MCC in 1872. In 1904, at the age of 56, he scored 209* in a minor match, supposedly after playing a full round of golf in the morning. He insisted on joining up despite being over the usual maximum age, and was killed in France on 21st July 1916, aged 68 – the oldest known death among British forces.
104. Gordon White made his Test debut for South Africa in the first match of the 1905-06 series; from the depths of 105 for six in the second innings in pursuit of a target of 284, he added 121 for the seventh wicket with Dave Nourse. White’s share was 81; after his departure Nourse and Percy Sherwellheld on to script the home team’s first Test victory. After scoring only 21 in the second match of the series, White played a starring role in the third; with the hosts having a first innings lead of 90 to build on, he ensured that they did so, hitting 147 to set up a third innings declaration, a 243 run win and the series victory. He finished the series as comfortably the leading batsman on either side, with 437 runs at an average of 55. The return series in England saw him fail with the bat, scoring only 15 runs in five innings, but at Headingley he enjoyed the only major bowling success of his Test career, with four for 47. White’s place in the “googly quartet” was perhaps undeserved as his nine Test wickets did not rank alongside the figures of Faulkner, Schwarz or Vogler, but his bowling made a bigger impression at first-class level, with 56 wickets on the 1907 tour at an average of just under 15, including seven for 33 and four for 36 against an invitational XI close to the end of the tour. He made another Test century the next time the mother country toured in 1909-10, with 118 at Durban in the second match; his final aggregate was 872 Test runs at an average a fraction over 30. He died of wounds in Gaza on 17th October 1918, aged 36.
105. George Whitehead excelled as an all-rounder for Clifton College, on the strength of which he was tried in two matches for Kent either side of his 19th birthday; however, he scored only 12 runs in four innings, and with the county season called off soon afterwards, did not get another chance. He was killed near Menin on 17th October 1918, aged 23.
106. Archer Windsor-Clive played seven first-class matches for Cambridge University, taking three for 56 on his debut against Essex in 1910. He was killed at Landrecies on 25th August 1914, aged 23.
107. Maximillian Wood represented the Europeans in the Bombay Presidency Match, taking six for 51, four for 56 and four for 24 against the Parsees in consecutive years, 1900-02. He later played one County Championship match for Hampshire against Yorkshire, in which he scored 5 and didn’t bowl. He was killed at Gallipoli on 22nd August 1915, aged 42.
108. Kenneth Woodroffe made his first-class debut for Hampshire against the 1912 South Africans – and made an immediate impact, removing Herbie Taylor, Dave Nourse, Louis Tancred and Aubrey Faulkner for just 17 between them on his way to innings figures of five for 33, although he was unable to repeat the feat in the second innings, when Nourse made an unbeaten 213. Afterone more match for Hampshire, he played most of the rest of his first-class career for Cambridge University, but his only subsequent five wicket haul came when he returned to county cricket for Sussex against Surrey in 1914. Again he showed an ability to dismiss the best in the business: the first victim in his return of six for 43 was Jack Hobbs. He almost pulled off an improbable win for his new county: from 119 for four chasing a fourth innings target of 149, Surrey were reduced to 145 for nine before the last pair of George Platt and Bert Strudwick saw them over the line. He was killed near NeuveChapelle on 13th May 1915, aged 22.
109. Oswald Wreford-Brown was captain of Charterhouse School in 1896 and played one first-class match for Gloucestershire against Middlesex in 1900, scoring 5; his brother Charles and nephew Anthony also played first-class cricket. He was killed near Corbie on 7th July 1916, aged 38.
110. Egerton Wright opened the batting and occasionally kept wicket for Oxford University; he made 67 on debut against the Gentlemen of England, the highest score of Oxford’s second innings, in a match won by the university by 50 runs. He never quite managed a first-class century, falling short with 95 in the 1905 Varsity match. Later he played four matches for Lancashire and one for MCC, scoring 89 against his alma mater. He was killed at Barly on 11th May 1918, aged 32.
111. Harold Wright played 11 first-class matches for Leicestershire and MCC. Against Hampshire in 1914, he stood firm while all around him were falling, and carried his bat for 26* in a total of 63; unsurprisingly, his team lost by an innings. He was wounded in the Dardanelles on 28th July 1915, invalided and died in London on 13th September that year, aged 31.
112. William Yalland played once for Gloucestershire against Somerset in 1910, scoring 1 in his only innings. He was killed at Ypres on 23rd October 1914, aged 25.
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(Michael Jones’s writing focuses on cricket history and statistics, with occasional forays into the contemporary game)