CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1939

Hugh Bartlett

HUGH TRYON BARTLETT, who last season distinguished himself more than any other amateur cricketer by his many fine feats as a hard-hitting left-hand batsman, was born at Balaghat, India, on October 7, 1914. Coming to England when nine years old, he first played cricket at Lake House, a Bexhill preparatory school, and going to Dulwich College when 13, was in the eleven from 1928 to 1933, being captain in the last three years.

For a schoolboy he hit with terrific power. In 1933, he twice made a score of over 200, and his 228 against Mill Hill was a record for Dulwich in any match. When he went up to Cambridge with such a fine school reputation he had played for Surrey and, appearing in the Cambridge team for the first game and hitting 55, against Yorkshire, he received his Blue from J. H. Human without playing in the Freshmen's match. That year ( 1934) he scored 94 against Northamptonshire and 128 against Glamorgan in consecutive matches, and next season, during which he further assisted Surrey, he headed the Cambridge batting figures.

It is a curious and inexplicable point of his career that he failed in all the three games in which he took part against Oxford. Indeed, the fulfilment of the promise of his school-days was delayed until he decided to throw in his lot with Sussex.

Bartlett, who stands six feet, two inches, is the type of batsman who can transform a match in the space of twenty minutes or so by his daring and fearless pulling, his powerful driving and his determination to prevent the bowler dictating the situation. There is no mistaking the improvement in his batting, more particularly in his defence, since his many hours of intensive practice at indoor cricket schools in the winter of 1937-38. How much he had advanced was obvious to anyone who saw Bartlett on his first appearance for the Gentlemen last July when he hit 175 not out against the Players--a score which has only once been exceeded in these matches at Lord's. Prior to that innings, he made 94 against Yorkshire; only a superb catch by Leyland prevented him completing three-figures with a six. In successive matches at Hastings, Bartlett scored 114 off Northamptonshire and Kent bowling in turn, and he wound up the season in a blaze of glory by making 157 against the Australians at Hove, incidentally reaching his hundred in 57 minutes and so winning the trophy awarded by Sir Walter Lawrence for the fastest century. Although he played no more than 31 innings, Bartlett hit five hundreds and five other scores of over 70, and altogether scored 1548 runs, average 57.33.

No one has had a greater influence in the development of Bartlett than Frank Woolley, who took a special interest in the other left-hander both while he was at Dulwich and since. Another well known Kent player, Mr. C. S. Marriott, also afforded much valuable advice and coaching to Bartlett when at school. Because he sometimes shows uncertainty at the start of an innings, Bartlett has been offered plenty of advice that he should play more carefully, but as he is quite likely to get a hundred any day against the best bowling it would be illogical to find fault with his methods. His choice for the M.C.C. tour to South Africa was richly deserved.

© John Wisden & Co