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Wilfred Rhodes now 53 years of age has announced that, although he obtained more than seventy wickets for less than 20 runs apiece last summer and had a batting average of nearly 23, he will take no further part in first-class cricket. So comes to an end a splendid career which, including the years of war, extended over thirty-three seasons.
The distinction peculiar to Rhodes consists in his achievement -- after gaining great fame as the leading bowler in the country for a dozen years or more -- of developing his batting to such an extent that for a time in Test matches he regularly opened England's innings in company with Hobbs.
That attainment would of itself have invested Rhodes' career with special quality but, as it happened, his prowess did not end with his advance to such high rank as a batsman. After the war, with Yorkshire's attack enormously weakened owing to the deaths of Booth and Drake, Rhodes was once again called upon for a huge amount of work with the ball and, as happily his skill had not deserted him, he found himself able to respond so handsomely to the demands of his county that, when over 40, he took in the course of six seasons 828 wickets for 13 runs each.
The extraordinary nature of his transition from bowler to batsman and then -- while not losing his batting -- back to bowler again may be better realised when it is mentioned that when he went out to Australia in 1903-04, P.F. Warner meant him to devote his energies so entirely to bowling that, to begin with, he was sent in last and rarely earlier than ninth.
Incidentally, Rhodes seized the occasion of the first Test match to put on in company with R.E. Foster 130 for the tenth wicket -- a record which still obtains today. Eight years later, when again P.F. Warner was chosen to captain a side in Australia, Rhodes -- then a leading batsman -- shared in another record stand -- 323 for the for the first wicket in company with Hobbs.
He appeared to have finished with international contests in 1921, being picked for only one of the five games in that season so disastrous for the reputation of English cricket but there came five years later, when he was 48, the opportunity for his swan-song at the Oval where, taking six wickets for 79 runs, he had a big share in regaining The Ashes for England.
Rhodes in the course of his career obtained 4,184 wickets at a cost of less than 17 runs each and that he scored nearly 40,000 runs with an average of 30.
During his first six seasons -- he came out for Yorkshire in 1898 -- Rhodes obtained 1,251 wickets for 14 runs each. His highest aggregate was 261 wickets in 1900 but in the next two years also his total of wickets exceeded 200.
Twice in 1899 -- against Essex and against the Australians -- he secured nine wickets in an innings and he repeated that performance against Essex thirty years later. In the Essex contest of 1889 he obtained fifteen wickets in all and in a Test match at Melbourne in 1903-04 he again had fifteen wickets to his credit. So recently as 1923 he took 134 wickets in a season and these at a cost of about eleven runs and a half apiece.
Altogether he made fifty-eight hundreds, forty-seven in all in England (forty-six for Yorkshire), eight in Australia, two in India and one in South Africa. Two of his three-figure innings were played in Test matches -- one at Melbourne and one at Johannesburg. His highest score was 267 not out against Leicestershire at Leeds in 1921 and he also obtained 210 against South Australia at Adelaide, 201 against Somerset at Taunton, 199 against Sussex at Brighton, and 196 against Worcestershire at Worcester.
Twice he made two centuries in a match -- 128 and 115 for Yorkshire against M.C.C. at Scarborough and 119 and 109 for England against New South Wales at Sydney in 1911-12. His highest aggregates were 2,261 in 1911 and 2094 in 1909, and his highest average in England 40 -- a figure he reached in 1909 and also in 1925.
This includes a match for Patiala against the M.C.C.'s team in India in 1926-27 when Rhodes scored 13 not out, and bowled 144 balls for 73 runs and three wickets.