Ernest Tyldesley: illuminated the golden age of cricket
Ernest Tyldesley was one of the giants of post-First World War cricket in England. Despite playing only 14 Test Matches, his batting was instrumental in contributing to "the golden age of cricket". The statistics tell it all - between 1919 and 1936 he amassed 38,874 runs at 45.46, a formidable record.
His genius is encapsulated in Ernest Tyldesley: His Record Innings by Innings, No 60 in the Famous Cricketers Series. Author Geoff Wilde, a former chartered accountant, has put his professional abilities with numbers to good use by producing an admirably researched statistical work.
Tyldesley had a strange career. Like good wine, he improved with age. England's selectors didn't turn to him until he was 32 and he won the last of his 14 caps when he was 40. And remarkably, at the age of 45 in Lancashire's last Championship-winning season of 1934, he scored 2,487 runs at 57.83. The season also saw him strike his 100th century.
The narrative in Wilde's work includes interesting asides, such as how Tyldesley was stationed in the UK for the entire First World War because his Commanding Officer was too keen on cricket to allow him to go overseas, and how current England batsman Michael Vaughan is the great grandson of one of Tyldesley's sisters.
He also includes quotes from Neville Cardus to paint a picture of the man. "He is never a vulgar or blatant batsman; even when he drives or pulls strongly there is a certain courtesy in his play, the poise of taste and discretion," penned the doyen of cricket writers for The Manchester Guardian in 1932.
Wilde tells how the career of Lancashire's greatest-ever run scorer ended in somewhat controversial circumstances. In 1936 the county needed a new captain (the previous incumbent having been elected an MP) and steadfastly refused to appoint a professional despite having only one amateur in the squad, Lionel Lister. To help the committee, Tyldesley offered to resume his amateur status but, in the event, Lister was appointed.
Tyldesley, who conducted himself with complete dignity over the issue, played just two games that season. Wilde says: "Wisden, in its review of the county season, cryptically commented that `Unhappily for WHL Lister when taking the reins, Ernest Tyldesley, after two early appearances, did not feel equal to playing...' It would seem that the captaincy issue was probably behind his decision to retire."
Ernest Tyldesley: His Record Innings by Innings is published by the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians, price £8.50.