Oxford University cricket team, 1891    Getty Images Back, from left: Lionel Palairet, Ernest Smith, Billy Wilson, Reginald Moss Middle, from left: Willie Llewellyn, Malcolm Jardine (c), Frederic Thesiger, Maurice Dauglish Front, from left: Henry Schwann, Henry Bradby
Oxford University cricket team, 1891 Getty Images
Back, from left: Lionel Palairet, Ernest Smith, Billy Wilson, Reginald Moss
Middle, from left: Willie Llewellyn, Malcolm Jardine (c), Frederic Thesiger, Maurice Dauglish
Front, from left: Henry Schwann, Henry Bradby

Reginald Heber Moss was born February 24, 1868 at Huyton, Liverpool, Lancashire. The Radleian, Issue 635, informs us that Moss was a Junior Scholar and Gibbs Scholar at Radley College, going up later to Keble College, Oxford in 1886. He won his cricket Blue in 1889.

The player profile shows him as being a right-hand bat and a right-arm bowler in the medium-paced or fast genre, as required. He is shown as having played 16 First-Class matches in a span of 1887 to 1925, scoring 123 runs with a highest of 18 not out and an average of 6.83. He also held 11 catches. His bowling was probably his longer suite. He is shown to have taken 25, and his best innings bowling analysis reads 4 for 9.

Moss made his First-Class debut with Oxford against Lancashire in a home game played at The Parks, starting May 26, 1887, in the era of 4-ball overs. Under the leadership of Joseph Brain, the University batted first, being dismissed for 144. The only individual score worth mentioning was the 52 from middle-order batsman Edward Buckland. For Lancashire, Alexander Watson (5 for 44) and Johnny Briggs (3 for 36) were the pick of the bowlers. Moss, batting at #11, remained not out without opening his account (he was not destined to open his last First-Class innings either).

The game was victim of the weather with the loss of a considerable amount of playing time. Lancashire, 96 for 2 at stumps on Day 1, finished Day 2 on 132 for 3, adding only 36 runs for the loss of 1 wicket in whole the day. The visitors were finally dismissed for 247. Moss and Alfred Cochrane opened the bowling for the hosts, picking up 2 for 44 and 4 for 104 respectively. The University batted again, scoring 105 for 4 when the drawn match ended. Debutant Moss was not required at the batting crease this time round.

In the same season, Moss played a game against MCC without much success, and managed to pick up 2 wickets in the other match against Surrey, also scoring 5 and 18 (his highest First-Class score), both not out, in the game.

Reggie Moss played 5 matches for Oxford in 1889 under wicketkeeper Hylton Philipson s captaincy, scoring a total of 45 runs from 9 innings with a highest of 16 not out, and holding 5 catches. He also captured 12 wickets for 398 runs. Things were gradually beginning to look up for him.

His first game in 1890 was against the visiting Australians at Oxford in May. He scored 4 and 5 and did not take any wickets in the only Australian innings of 234. On the other hand, Oxonian George Berkeley, making his debut, took 8 for 70 in the only Australian innings.

The 1890 season saw him playing 5 games in all, scoring 32 runs from 9 innings with a highest of 9, and holding 3 catches. In the same season, he took 8 for 293. Sadly, he never did get to lead the Oxford XI in First-Class cricket. He distinguished himself for Oxford against Sussex at Hove in June 1890, picking up his best bowling figures of 4 for 9 in the Sussex 2nd innings of 83.

In his first match of 1893, he played for MCC against Lancashire at Lord s, in May, not bowling in either innings, and scoring 3 and 4. In August 1893, he turned out for a Liverpool & District team against the visiting Australians.

The game was played at Liverpool. The Australians, under wicketkeeper Jack Blackham, batted first. Their 1st-innings total of 195 was built around a 56 from Harry Trott. For the home team, William Oakely took 5 for 50. The home team were dismissed for 85, Robert McLeod taking 7 for 24. Moss scored 13. Following on, the home team were again brushed away, this time for 76, Arthur Coningham taking 6 for 41. This time, Moss registered a duck.

It looked for a while as if that would be his last hurrah as far as First-Class cricket was concerned. Fate, however, decreed otherwise.

He pursued a career in the Cloth and took up Holy Orders, eventually becoming the Rector of Icomb, Gloucestershire, and being referred to by the respectful title of The Reverend Reginald Heber Moss. This quiet interlude of curing souls in his parish was to be interrupted under unusual circumstances much later in his life.

The second innings

We look ahead to the beginning of 1925, and find this comment in Times: A number of new players have turned out for Worcestershire this season . Quite out of the blue, The Rev. Reginald Heber Moss, now aged 57, was summoned to make his County Championship debut, and to turn out for Worcestershire.

Moss had 15 First-Class appearances under his belt, mainly for Oxford, but his previous First-Class match had been a record 32 years earlier in 1893 against the touring Australians and he was now 57. There is no definite evidence of why he was picked for this game, but it can only be assumed that the side was short.

The Worcestershire versus Gloucestershire match was played at New Road in May 1925, with a sprightly 57 year-old man of the Church playing his first First-Class match for the home team and playing his very first (and, as it turned out, last) Championship game.

Gloucestershire, under Douglas Robinson, took first strike, scoring a rather poor 160. Wally Hammond, with 36, and Michael Green, 35, were the main scorers. For the home team, Harry Rogers took 6 for 69, and the legendary Fred Root had 4 for 72.

The first three names on the Worcestershire batting list scored almost all the runs of their meagre total of 191. Maurice Jewell (74) and Fred Pearson (53) shared a 1st-wicket partnership of 78 runs. Skipper Maurice Foster, one of six brothers to have played for Worcestershire, followed at #3, scoring 27. For the home team, Charlie Parker took 7 for 86.

Gloucestershire did not do much better in the 2nd innings, being all out for 179. Maurice Green, with 54, opening the innings, and Robinson, with 35 from the middle-order, added some substance in a disappointing total.

For the home team, Root again took 4 wickets, this time for 62, Harry Rogers also taking 4 for 58. The final innings of the game was the home side s 130, Parker and Hammond running through them with figures of 6 for 37 and 3 for 72 respectively.

Gloucestershire won the encounter by 18 runs. The 57 year-old Championship debutant took 1 for 5 from 3 overs in the Gloucestershire 2nd innings, held 2 catches, and fell for 2 (to Parker) and a duck (to Hammond). His batting career, at least, had been well rounded off.

This was the last First-Class match that Moss was to ever play, after this record gap of 32 years. At the age of 57 years 91 days on the day the match ended, he is #31 in the list of the oldest First-Class cricketers, but 1st on the list of the lengthiest gaps in a person s First-Class career.

The enquiring mind may well wonder as to why, when the good Reverend was looking after his flock in Gloucestershire, he would be selected to play his only Championship match for Worcestershire, and that too, against the county of his parish. Some questions will, perhaps, never be answered.

The Reverend Reginald Heber Moss, may The Almighty rest his soul in peace, passed away on March 19, 1956 at Bridport, Dorset, at the ripe old age of 88 years 24 days.

(Pradip Dhole is a retired medical practitioner with a life-long interest in cricket history and statistics)