Teddy Wynyard: Distinguished army man, all-round sportsman, champion batsman and a useful lobster. Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
Teddy Wynyard: Distinguished army man, all-round sportsman, champion batsman and a useful lobster. Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Edward George Teddy Wynyard, born April 1, 1861, was a versatile sportsman and would have been counted as one of the best batsmen of England in the final two decades of the 1800s had the demands of Army life and the less than First-Class status of Hampshire matches not robbed him of nearly 10 years of his cricket career. While he deserves an extensive biography for his multiple accomplishments, in this article Arunabha Sengupta traces his experiments with lob bowling.

The Blitzkrieg at Taunton

July 21, 1899. The remarkable pair of military men launched a blitzkrieg that blew the Somerset men away at Taunton.

They were a pair of ideal faces of the Empire, the archetypal images of Boys Own Hero, the embodiments of the ethos of Playing the Game.

Captain Teddy Wynyard, his army rank equivalent to his role as the skipper of Hampshire, struck his way to 225. Major Robert Poore went further and blasted 304 unbeaten runs. They added 411 in just over four hours, at that point of time the second highest partnership in First-Class cricket. There were 81 fours between them.

Twice Wynyard sent the ball spiralling out of the ground, fetching fives according to the rules. In between all the fierce hitting, he sometimes got down on his knees and paddled the slow floaters of Edwin Tyler past point, a stroke which looked much like the modern-day reverse-sweep. He was also adept at hitting inside out, one of the first batsmen to do so.

The full-frontal attack of the two army officers has gone down as stuff of legend. In the echo of the strokes that reverberated around the ground that day, the other deeds of Wynyard are reduced to a footnote, if they are registered at all. In the first Somerset innings, he dismissed two batsmen with his canny lobs. In the second he accounted for three more. In addition to the 225 runs, he scalped 5 wickets for 38.

In the amazing brilliance of Wynyard in many, many fields, which included the battlefields where he took part in the Great Games for Britain, his contribution in the history of lobs is often rendered invisible.

A few days after the mammoth stand against Somerset, playing at Grace Road, Wynyard joined Poore at the wicket again under the grand cathedral overlooking the ground. The two added another 119, with military precision, but even as Poore went on to record 157, Wynyard was dismissed for 46. Perhaps smarting because of his comparatively low score, Wynyard came on to bowl as first change, sent down 35.4 five-ball overs and ended with 6 for 63. Five of his victims were bowled, the other stumped. He really could beat them in the air. It was his career-best bowling performance.

As the season dwindled to an end, it was time for the Scarborough festival. And Wynyard played for CI Thornton s XI led by Stanley Jackson, and they took on the visiting Australians under Joe Darling. The tourists went past 100 for the loss of 3 wickets when Jackson tossed the ball to the Captain as the seventh bowler. Wynyard went ahead and proceeded to bowl his lobs. Every Australian batsman seemed confused by the tempting deliveries. Darling hit one straight back to the bowler, Frank Iredale spooned one to the leg-side. The breakthroughs had been achieved. When the tail was in, Jackson turned to Wynyard again, and out they charged, Ernie Jones missed the line and was bowled. William Howell was caught in the deep. Wynyard finished with 4 for 30.

 

That particular season was perhaps his best with the ball, with 27 wickets at 27.74. Not bad for a man who had practically acted as the specialist Hampshire wicketkeeper the previous season. But the 1,281 runs at 41.32 overshadowed the tantalisingly misleading lobs.

A tale of valour and versatility

For Wynyard was versatile.

A Carthusian commissioned in 1883, he served in Burma from 1885 to 1887 and was mentioned in the dispatches twice before being awarded DSO in 1887.

But before that he had also played football in the FA Cup final of 1881. The Old Carthusians beat the Old Etonians 3-1, and Wynyard netted the first goal of the match. In the Football Annual edited by the indefatigable Charles Alcock, it was said that he was a good forward, plenty of dash, makes himself very obnoxious to the opposing backs.

He remains one of the five select men to play Test cricket for England and gain an FA Cup winner s medal; the other four being Jack Sharp, Harry Makepeace, Andy Ducat and Denis Compton.

After his Army career had brought an end to his top-level football, he still played twice for the Corinthians in 1893, scoring five goals for them.

Having played cricket for Hampshire in 1883, Wynyard missed the 1884, 1885 and 1886 seasons because of his posting in India. That was the land where he had been born, in Saharanpur, in the modern day Uttar Pradesh, the son of William Wynyard, magistrate in the Bengal Civil Service.

However, the Indian posting did not really result in his missing the game. In 1885, he scored plenty of runs in the local Indian matches, posting 123* and 106 in the two innings of the match for the Visitors against Residents at Nainital. He batted 17 times that season, scoring 7 hundreds and managing an average of 67, taking plenty of wickets as well. At Allahabad, he carried his bat for 123 for his Regiment.

On his return to England on sick leave in 1887, he spent some weeks recuperating in Italy before returning to India. In 1890 he joined the Welch Regiment as captain when he was appointed Instructor in Tactics, Military Administration and Law at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst.

His sporting career continued to spread with all its versatility. In 1891, he passed one of the figure skating tests of the National Skating Association at Davos, Switzerland.

Cricket continued to suffer from military duties, but his sporting pursuits were carried on whenever he got the opportunity. In 1894, again at Davos, he won the European International Toboggan Championships.

While at Davos, Wynyard rescued a Swiss peasant from drowning at considerable personal risk and was awarded the Royal Humane Society s bronze medal.

Back in England he played hockey at county level and formed his own golf club.

The cricket career resumes

By 1895 Hampshire was competing in the First-Class circuit again, and Wynyard s cricket career resumed with every trace of the promise that he had shown in the early days. He batted with every bit of the old zest and vigour. However, while at school at St Edward s and later in India he had bowled slow over-arm with the ability to break the ball both ways, now he turned to the occasional lobs. In 1895 he got the wickets of Warwickshire openers Herbert Bainbridge and Billy Quaife as his first scalps as a lobster.

By 1896, Wynyard had represented England as a batsman in the Ashes triumph, batting alongside the likes of WG Grace, KS Ranjitsinhji, Jackson, Tom Hayward and Archie MacLaren. He was not an immediate success as a Test player, but that season he scored 1,038 runs at 49.42, second only to Ranji, and received an invitation to tour Australia with the men of Drewy Stoddart.

Unfortunately he had to say no. The military duties interfered. He did enjoy some superb seasons for Hampshire in 1898 and 1899 but then there was the Boer War, and to add on to that there was his job as company commander at Sandhurst. There was not much time he could spare for cricket.

First-Class cricket was just about possible, but Tests would have to wait until he had retired from the Army in 1904. He played for England again in South Africa, in 1905-06, 44-years old but still one of the fittest. He played two more Tests, got a couple of ducks and a couple of starts against the battery of googly bowlers. It was not a very successful tour, but he did play a couple of good hands. In both the Tests, Plum Warner called upon him to send down a few of his lobs, as a change bowler.

The following winter, Wynyard led an all-amateur England team to New Zealand for an early tour to that island nation. In the history of lob bowling, this was an interesting event, because in the side one of the leading bowlers happened to be the great lobster George Simpson-Hayward. Simpson-Hayward would go on to become the only specialist lob bowler to achieve success in Test matches.

The New Zealand tour was not a very happy one for Wynyard. He was not dismissed in the three innings he played, but in the second match he snapped a tendon in his right leg while trying to stop a ball and was forced to return home.

In 1907-08 Wynyard was offered the captaincy of the England team to Australia. At 46, he felt he would not be able to do justice to the role and hence refused. The job went to AO Jones and by proxy to Fred Fane as the former spent most of the tour on sick bed.

It is a pity that Wynyard refused the role. Having played cricket in India, South Africa and New Zealand, and having travelled to West Indies with Lord Brackley s team in 1904-05 and to North America with Hesketh-Prichard s men in 1907, the Australian odyssey would have completed the entire cricketing world for this extraordinary sportsman. But perhaps the injury in New Zealand played in his mind. Also, the North American tour had found him completely at sea against the top-class bowling of Bart King and Ranji Hordern. He knew that his days of serious cricket were numbered.

In 1908 Wynyard played his final match for Hampshire, and appeared occasionally in less serious matches from then on. Yet, his penchant for cricket in many climes remained constant, and in 1909 he visited Egypt with MCC.

Curiously, for unknown reasons, our man was selected to tour South Africa again with Shrimp Leveson-Gower s men in 1909-10. It seems rather obvious in retrospect that he was there mainly to share his earlier experiences in the country. He played in just four First-Class matches and two side games, and was a spectator for most of the visit. But when MCC played Transvaal at Pretoria, he was a busy man, bowling 23 overs, many of them in tandem with Wilfred Rhodes, picking up one wicket for 93 with his lobs.

Yes, he still bowled them and would continue bowling them for a few more years.

When HS Altham penned Hampshire County Cricket: The Official History he had the following to say about Wynyard: A man of arresting presence and strong personality. Though never a good starter, he was a pugnacious batsman of high quality, combining with a strong and watchful defence a wide variety of attacking strokes of which the most individual was the pull-drive when he would drop on his right knee to pick up the over-pitched, or even at times the good length ball on or outside the off stump and hit it like a good iron-shot wife of mid-on; alternatively, he might drive skimmers over mid-off or extra cover. He was a fine slip field, could keep wicket very adequately and like bowling lobs.

Altham would remember the lobs. After all, during the 1912 match between Oxford and MCC at Lord s, he was batting as a young University man when sliced one into the hands of Bart King to give Wynyard his 66th and final First-Class wicket.

Not that Wynyard did not bowl lobs after that. He enjoyed plenty of success with them against minor sides, against teams like Royal Academy of Arts and LG Robinson s XI.

During the Great War Wynyard was recalled to the Army and served as Major in King s Liverpool Regiment and later as Commandant at Thornhill Labour Camp. After that, he was still going strong, bowling his lobs when well into his sixties, picking up 5 for 53 against the Metropolitan Police and destroying the Public School XVIII for the Free Foresters with 5 for 10. Thus, he was one of the very, very few bowlers still tossing up lobs in the 1920s.

He was also batting with every bit of unchristian freedom. An eyewitness account of his batting in 1923 recalled: In 1923, in Canada, there were traces of greatness to be seen. He played in only a couple of matches but in one of these he made a shot which few could have equalled. The bowler was medium or slow-medium and he delivered a half-volley just outside the leg-stump. Ranji would have glanced the ball past fine leg with almost majestic contempt. Teddy treated it differently. He jumped off both feet and made a half turn to his left in the air, and then, coming to ground exactly at the right moment, drove yes, drove the ball for six between fine and long leg . And he was 62.

Yes, whatever be the feats of Wynyard with his lobs, his batting always captured the spotlight.

In First-Class cricket, he scored 8,318 runs in 154 matches at 33. Given he played most of his cricket in the 1890s, it compares favourably with the greatest of his era. WG strode ahead of the rest with 39.45, Arthur Shrewsbury managed 36.65, Bobby Abel 35.46 and William Gunn 33.02. Had Hampshire matches between 1887 and 1894 been deemed First-Class, Wynyard would have totalled 1,848 more runs in 34 more matches at exactly the same average of 33.

Additionally, he was a superb captain, if somewhat of a martinet. Young players would tremble while returning the ball to him, lest the throw went awry. And if he overheard two young fast bowlers in his team debating who among them should bowl with the wind behind him, one could wager that Wynyard would open the bowling himself, sending down his lobs with the aid of the wind.

Perhaps Wynyard s lobs were bowled as an afterthought among his cricketing skills, as a new arrow in the quiver when the regular ones had been used up. He was never instructed in the art, but developed his methods himself. He was a gifted mimic when it came to cricket, and perhaps that stood him in good stead.

Yes, he was a gifted cricketing mimic and no story better illustrates that than the following one.

At Sandhurst, Wynyard was in charge of cricket at the college and in 1901 had invited WG to lead his WG Grace s XI against the college team. The great man had accepted, but two days before the match had sent a missive saying that his team would come but he himself would not be able to play.

Wynyard was annoyed, but while he was talking with the cadets at the college about the forthcoming match, he discovered that none of them had ever watched Grace play. And so, he engaged a make-up expert, and on the day of the match WG Grace did appear and walked out to bat. He batted, made a few runs, and then deliberately got hit on the hand and retired. The beard, wig, cap, padding, and, above all, the imitation of Grace s style of play, had been so impeccable that no one had seen through the deception until Wynyard himself let the cat out of the bag at lunch.

Edward George Wynyard, DSO, OBE, passed away in 1936.