Pelham Warner

There have been many greater cricketers than Pelham Warner but none more devoted to the game. Nothing has ever damped his enthusiasm. Whether winning or losing he has always been the same. When, having made up his mind to finish with county cricket last season, he had the extreme satisfaction of leading Middlesex to victory in the Championship it was suggested that though he had already found a place in the Wisden portrait gallery there could be no more appropriate picture for this year's issue of the Almanack than a special photograph of him at the end of his career. The previous portrait appeared in 1904, Middlesex then, as now, having gained first place among the counties. Mr. Warner has had a long and varied experience of the cricket field. He has played in Australia, South Africa and the West Indies. From his earliest days in the Rugby eleven he was marked out for distinction, but it was not till he played regularly for Middlesex that he became famous as a batsman. He was only in the Oxford eleven in the last two of his four years, and though he scored fairly well he did nothing out of the common. A wonderful innings of 150 at Lord's for Middlesex against Yorkshire in 1899 gave him an assured position, and from that year right on to the time of his dangerous illness in Australia in 1911 he met with little but success. It is no secret that when during the War his illness recurred he almost despaired of playing cricket any more, but happily he made a good recovery and did much to keep the game going in the two dreary summers that preceded the Armistice. When cricket came to its own again he was not the batsman he had been, but even in 1919, when the long hours of two-day matches did not suit him at all, he managed to add one to his splendid list of hundreds at Lord's, and last summer he was something like his old self. Still it was not his batting but his skill as a captain that made his final season memorable. But for his leadership Middlesex would never have gained in August the wonderful series of victories that culminated with the triumph over Surrey. His great asset as a captain in that month of strenuous matches, counting for even more than his judgment in changing the bowling and placing the field, was his sanguine spirit. He was full of encouragement and got the very best out of his men by making them believe in themselves.--S.H.P.

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