CRICKETER OF THE YEAR 1955

George Tribe

In an era when genuine all-rounders are comparatively few, a cricketer who can achieve the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in three successive seasons is a noteworthy personality. Such is George Edward Tribe, the Northamptonshire slow left-arm bowler and batsman. Born at Melbourne, on October 4, 1920, Tribe comes from a family of Sussex origin, though his great-grandfather, who went to Australia in 1853, was born at Vauxhall, near Kennington Oval.

The story of Tribe"s rise to prominence is one of perseverance. From an early age he engaged in back-yard cricket with his brothers, and when 12 took part in schoolboy matches at Yarraville, playing on bare earth and matting pitches before at length making acquaintance with turf. From this he progressed through the Under-18 Competition to Victorian Cricket Association Second Grade games. At 14 he gained a place in his local club"s second team and maintained it until 1938, with occasional spells in the first eleven, while his batting steadily improved. He received no coaching, but he profited from hints by better players at St. Augustine"s School, Yarraville, and later from J. S. Ryder, the former Test match cricketer who is now a Selector, B. A. Barnett and A. L. Hassett.

All this time a leg-break bowler, Tribe determined during the 1938-39 season to change to the unorthodox left-hander"s style. He considered, and rightly so it proved, that with the amended l. b. w. law, off-break bowling would enhance his chances of success and that, with his unusually broad hand, wrist-spin rather than finger-spin would be both more effective on the hard, thinly-grassed Australian pitches and would counter his lack of inches-he stands 5 ft. 7 in. He began his first match that season with orthodox bowling against the wind and his analysis stood at one wicket for 40 runs when he suggested that he be tried at the other end. To this his captain agreed and Tribe, employing unorthodox methods, wrought such damage that he finished with figures of seven wickets for 82. At the end of that summer he played for City Colts against Country Colts in company with S. J. Loxton, who later represented Australia twelve times. Next year he participated with heartening results in the First Grade Competition.

The war, during which he did six months" Army service before being recalled to his reserved occupation of engineering, delayed his chance of Inter-State cricket until 1945-46. Meanwhile, for seven years from 1939, he played Australian Rules League football as a professional. With the resumption of Inter-State rivalry, Tribe soon made his mark, for on his début for Victoria he dismissed six Queensland batsmen in the second innings for 101 runs. The following season he bore a leading part in the winning by his State of the Sheffield Shield tournament, taking 33 wickets, average 17.54. For Victoria against W. R. Hammond"s M.C.C. team he obtained five second innings wickets for 49, but in three Test matches he took only two for 165 runs apiece.

Then he went to England, becoming a professional with Milnrow, the Central Lancashire League club, for three years. In his first season, 1947, he took 136 wickets; in the second, with 148, he beat a record--140--which had stood for twenty years, and the next summer took 150. Two seasons with Rawtenstall followed and he became qualified by residence to play for a county. He served as bowling coach at Old Trafford in 1948, and Lancashire wanted to engage him as a player, but he could not secure release from his League commitments. Meanwhile he worked during the winter as an engineer and, when he secured a post in that capacity with a prominent firm at Northampton, he accepted an engagement with Northamptonshire. At once he knew high success. In his first four matches he took 40 wickets, finishing the 1952 season with 126 wickets and 1,039 runs. In 1953 he scored 1,260 runs and took 108 wickets and last year his third double comprised 1,117 runs and 149 wickets. As a batsman in Australia his opportunities were limited, for he went in late in the order, but for Northamptonshire he found his sound defence and hard hitting in front of the wicket welcomed as a valuable addition to the middle batting. -EE

© John Wisden & Co
 
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