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Full name Reginald Herbert Spooner
Born October 21, 1880, Litherland, Lancashire
Died October 2, 1961, Lincoln (aged 80 years 346 days)
Major teams England, Lancashire
Batting style Right-hand bat
|Test debut||England v Australia at Manchester, Jul 24-26, 1905 scorecard|
|Last Test||England v Australia at The Oval, Aug 19-22, 1912 scorecard|
Reginald Herbert Spooner, whose name is linked with the greatest batsmen of Edwardian England, died in a nursing home at Lincoln on October 2, after a few weeks' illness, at the age of 80. One of the most beautiful stroke-makers known to the game, he adorned the cricketing scene as a player for Lancashire and England in an age of giants, when quality, style and skill were wedded as perhaps at no other time.
He was born near Liverpool on October 21, 1880, and was educated at Marlborough, where he excelled as an outstanding schoolboy sportsman and established a fine reputation as a batsman of maturity and dominance. He was in the XI for three years from 1897 to 1899, and after scoring 139 against Rugby at Lord's in 1898, he ended his school career in a blaze of triumph with 926 runs in 1899 at an average of 71.23, including innings of 69 and 198 against Rugby; he was captain of Marlborough that year, and he was at once marked out as a potentially great player. For Lancashire II at the age of 18 he scored a great 158 against Surrey II at Old Trafford, and within a few weeks made his debut in first-class cricket, appearing against Middlesex at Lord's in 1899 with scores of 44 and 83. He made an immediate impression, which was fully justified in later years, as an elegant artist who could open the innings not as a craftsman but as a polished and ingenious stroke-player who was loved and admired by crowds on every ground.
For three years Spooner was not seen on the first-class field due to his absence in South Africa on military service in the Boer War, in which he was unfortunately wounded. He returned to major cricket in 1903 and made the first of his 25 centuries for Lancashire and the highest score of his career-247 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. Later in the same month he and A. C. MacLaren shared an opening stand of 368 against Gloucestershire at Liverpool, still the highest for Lancashire's first wicket and a record for any wicket at Aigburth. The tall and slim figure of Spooner, rhythmically stroking the ball with strong and flexible wrists, soon became synonymous with classical purity and apparently effortless elegance. He was as an aristocrat at the crease, graceful, poised and confident. His off drive was a flashing joy and brought showers of admiration, though his skill on the leg-side was by no means negligible - as he demonstrated in a superbly-played innings of 114 for the Gentlemen against the Players at Lord's in 1906. He could straight-drive the fastest bowlers with handsome strokes off the back foot, and was one of the earliest masters of googly bowling.
He played in 10 Test matches for England, seven of them against Australia, between 1905 and 1912, and against South Africa at Lord's in 1912 he scored 119.
He never toured abroad with England, business or injury preventing him making the trips to Australia in 1903-04 and 1920-21. In fact he played very little first-class cricket after the First World War, retiring in 1923 with 13,681 runs (including 31 centuries) at an average of 36.28. He scored five double-centuries for Lancashire, his 200 not out against Yorkshire at Old Trafford in 1910 being the first double-century in the "Roses" match, and still the only such score for Lancashire in these matches. He was also a brilliant fielder at cover-point,
and as a Rugby centre-threequarter he played for England against Wales at Swansea in 1902-03. In 1945 and 1946 he was president of Lancashire C.C.C.
Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1905