CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1938

Tom Goddard

THOMAS WILLIAM JOHN GODDARD, the Gloucestershire slow bowler, who in 1937 took 248 wickets--more than anyone else during the season--was originally a fast bowler. Coached by Arthur Paish, he persevered with this form of attack for six seasons from 1922 onwards, but although in 1926 he took sixty-eight wickets, it was felt by the Gloucestershire authorities that, while he possessed the necessary physical attributes for fast bowling, he did not come up to the required standard. The determination of Goddard to succeed as a cricketer was shown when, declining terms offered by Gloucestershire, he joined the ground staff at Lord's in 1928 and, with unlimited opportunities for practice, set earnestly to work to cultivate the off-break.

He had always been able to spin the ball, but with Parker, Dennett and Mills in the Gloucestershire side of those days, no special attention was paid to this ability on his part. At Lord's however, Hardstaff was impressed by Goddard's form at the nets and gave a hint to B. H. Lyon, at that time captain of Gloucestershire. Lyon saw Goddard at practice and in promptly recommending that the professional be given another chance with the county eleven, he set Goddard on the road to a successful career. In other ways, and especially in setting a field, Lyon extended much help to Goddard. Hammond and Charles Parker also gave much valuable advice to their colleague.

In 1929, Goddard embraced his second opportunity to make good with Gloucestershire by taking 173 wickets for 15.15 runs apiece. His bowling afterwards became more expensive, but each season he secured well over a hundred wickets and in 1935 he reached 200. Handicapped by a strain in 1936, he fell away but during the past season he showed splendid form and took more wickets than ever before obtained by a Gloucestershire player.

Bowling round the wicket, with three or more fieldsmen at short leg, Goddard is a problem to batsmen when the pitch is responsive to spin. His long, strong fingers, combined with suppleness of wrist, enable him to turn the ball a little even on the best of wickets. He once bowled Hendren at Bristol with a ball that pitched a good foot outside the off-stump and hit the leg stump. Goddard depends a good deal upon surprising the batsman by a little extra pace off the pitch. A more important asset is his skill in flighting the ball; his height--he stands six feet three inches--makes his flight steep and difficult to judge. During his early days as a slow bowler, the large majority of catches made off his bowling were at short leg; latterly he has been more successful in getting a batsman to play forward to be stumped, or l. b. w., to a ball that does enough to beat the bat. Born at Gloucester on October 1, 1900, Goddard has taken over 1,500 wickets in first-class cricket. Last season against Worcestershire he took all ten wickets for 113 runs and in the match sixteen for 181. He toured South Africa with the M. C. C. team of 1930-31 but owing to injury did not figure in any of the Tests. Against Australia at Manchester in 1930, he took two wickets for 49 and his six for 29 in the second innings of New Zealand, at Old Trafford last July, largely decided the issue in England's favour.

© John Wisden & Co