Home > Features > Moments in history >

George Parker: A meteoric rise and fall

George Parker
George Parker (second left from back) had a career that fizzled out early despite a great start to his career  © Getty Images

Born May 27, 1899, George Parker had one of the shortest domestic careers among Test cricketers. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the South African with one of the most intriguing First-Class careers.

An exceptional fast bowler, George MacDonald Parker played only three First-Class matches; the South Africans had a good look at Parker (who was playing for Eccleshill in the Bradford League at that point of time) on his First-Class debut, drafted him in to play two Tests, and that was it.

Born in Cape Town, Parker moved to England to try his luck in League Cricket. Herbie Taylor’s team had a dismal start on their English tour of 1924, winning only the Varsity match at Fenner’s Ground of the ten he played. The only bowler to have some success was Sid Pegler, who was not even a part of the original squad.

A desperate Taylor drafted in Parker for the match against Oxford University. There was no play in the match barring four hours on Day Three, but it was enough for Parker to show his skills: he had four wickets (three of them bowled), had three catches dropped off his bowling, and finished with four for 34. Play was called off with Oxford on 117 for nine.

The Oxford match had ended on June 13. The next day Parker was given his Test cap at Edgbaston.

Test debut

Taylor gave Parker choice of ends ahead of Pegler. Jack Hobbs and Herbert Sutcliffe belted the South Africans around the park, and Frank Woolley and Patsy Hendren joined in the fun as well. Parker toiled hard, and as Wisden wrote, he “He bowled himself to a standstill and became so exhausted that he had to leave the field shortly before the drawing of stumps, the South Africans finishing the day with ten men.” As things had turned out, Parker had left the field without informing anyone and not responding to any question from his teammates. When Taylor asked him, he mentioned that he was tired, and did not return.

The Times mentioned that Parker bowled “a quick, almost fast” ball, but when he bowled them, a full over “takes an unconscionable time to deliver.” The Guardian wrote: “He [Parker] is immensely deliberate as he walks to his bowling place; his eyes are cast on the earth, and he walks slowly and solemnly as though pondering mighty problems. The wildness of his bowling made a quite sensational contrast to his solid deportment.”

He had other oddities as well. When he was having trouble bowling to Woolley, he went up to the batsman and asked whether the field placement was right for a left-hander. Despite all that, he had taken five wickets (including Sutcliffe, Woolley, Hendren, and Percy Chapman) on Day One before leaving, and bowled George Wood the next morning. England were bowled out for 438, and Parker finished with six for 152 in a display of hostile fast bowling. In the process Parker became the sixth South African to take a five-for and the third to take a six-for on Test debut.

Arthur Gilligan and Maurice Tate then bowled out the tourists for 30 in 12.3 overs; they did a lot better after following on, but were bowled out for 390, Gilligan and Tate sharing nine of the ten wickets this time. Batting at eleven, Parker scored a duck and two not out.

Desperate for a fightback, Taylor summoned Aubrey Faulkner at Lord’s, and retained both Pegler and Parker. The bowling attack looked formidable on paper, but Hobbs and Sutcliffe decimated the Protean attack, adding 268 for the opening stand before Woolley had two century stands with Hobbs and Hendren.

Gilligan declared on 531 for two, scored at 4.50 runs an over; both wickets went to Parker: Sutcliffe played one on, while Hobbs played an almost bored shot. Parker finished with two for 121 while South Africa managed 273 and 240 (Parker scored one not out and a golden duck); he never played another Test and went back to Bradford League.

Final days

Back to South Africa, Parker married Marguerite Grace ‘Peg’Illingworth in 1929 and had five children. He became a sheep-breeder and moved to Australia. He passed away at Thredbo on May 1, 1969 — 26 days short of his 70th birthday.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Live Cricket Score Duleep Trophy Central Zone vs South Zone, final at Delhi Day 3: HS Sharath last man dismissed as South Zone wind up for 379

Live Cricket Score Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test at Abu Dhabi Day 2

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Mythbusting — the claim that playing for a weaker batting side handicaps a batsman has no basis

Younis Khan’s ban: why the ICC is justified

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

South Zone bowled out for 379 against Central Zone in Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final

Ottis Gibson appointed England bowling coach

Duleep Trophy 2014 Final: Lokesh Rahul dismissed for a brilliant 185

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Rohit Sharma admits he was nervous during his comeback against Sri Lankans in warm-up tie

Live Cricket Score: Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test, Day 2 at Abu Dhabi

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Mythbusting — the claim that playing for a weaker batting side handicaps a batsman has no basis

Younis Khan’s ban: why the ICC is justified

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here