CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1939

Arthur Wood

ARTHUR WOOD, the Yorkshire wicket-keeper, holds one special distinction. He is the oldest cricketer to make his Test debut for England, for he was 40 the day after the fifth Test Match against Australia at the Oval last season was completed. Although Wood may have thought his chance of an England cap would never come, he acquitted himself with credit on his one appearance in Test cricket. In fact, he was the only batsman on his side who attempted a forcing game, and his attractive innings of 53 produced a seventh wicket stand of 106 with Hardstaff. He also made three catches behind the wicket.

If that match marked the highest achievement in Wood's career and the realisation of his ambition, it was only a small matter compared with his great work for Yorkshire. Indeed, Wood has played no inconsiderable part in Yorkshire's winning of the County Championship six times in the last eight years. Being a wicket-keeper, perhaps he has not been accorded the praise which is so lavishly bestowed upon batsmen and bowlers who do well.

Since Wood first appeared for his county in 1927, he has shown remarkable consistency, averaging 700 runs and 68 dismissals each season.

Actually, his full wicket-keeping record to date reads: 765--554 batsmen caught and 211 stumped; his runs total 7,999 for an average of 21.44 an innings. Although going in number 8 because Yorkshire possess such a wealth of batting talent, Wood has repeatedly proved his value in a crisis and against the Australians at Sheffield last July he hit the highest innings (41) for Yorkshire. He is the only wicket-keeper who has scored a thousand runs in a season for Yorkshire.

Born at Fagley, Bradford, on August 25, 1898 Wood made his first acquaintance with cricket at the age of 13 with the Eccleshill Parish Church club. In those days he had no pretensions of being a wicket-keeper, but developed his game with net practice in the evenings and on joining the Bradford club soon showed marked ability behind the stumps. His form was made known to members of the Yorkshire Committee, who invited him to attend practices at Headingley. As a result, Wood in 1924 was picked to play for the county second eleven.

George Hirst and senior professionals helped him a good deal by coaching and advice, and appearing in the first team three years later Wood, on the retirement of Arthur Dolphin in 1928, became Yorkshire's regular wicket-keeper. Once in the side, he made 225 consecutive appearances before missing a game. Perhaps Wood shows special proficiency in taking the fast ball wide on the leg side but he is equally capable with any type of bowling. Of cheerful disposition, Wood is a popular figure on all grounds.

© John Wisden & Co