CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1937

Stan Worthington

THOMAS STANLEY WORTHINGTON, to whom the season of 1936 brought such an enormous increase in reputation, was born at Bolsover, near Chesterfield on August 21, 1905. Unlike his Derbyshire colleague, Copson, he found plenty of opportunities as a boy to take part in cricket. He went to Netherthorpe Grammar School, Staveley, where games were compulsory and ample equipment was available.

In those days, as in his early association with Derbyshire, he was primarily a bowler and on leaving school when 17 he entertained no aspirations of becoming a first-class cricketer. Joining the Bolsover Colliery Company as an electrician he played for the Colliery Club in the Bassetlaw League. Even in those days he must have been a better bowler than the average club cricketer and before long he was spotted by Fred Tate, who used to visit the local cricket grounds on behalf of the county in search for talent.

In April, 1923, Tate introduced Worthington to Derbyshire and as he gave satisfaction during a month's trial, he was retained, but he had to wait until August 1924 before making his debut in first-class cricket, against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. This was his only appearance for the county that summer when they finished at the bottom of the table.

It is important to record that following that disastrous season Derbyshire began the gradual improvement which in the course of twelve years has taken them to the top and Worthington, with Townsend, whose biography appeared in the 1934 Wisden, has played a big part in the county's change of fortune.

Little was seen of Worthington in 1925 but next summer he became a regular member of the Derbyshire eleven, did not miss a match, scored 600 runs and took 60 wickets. During his early days at Derby, Worthington regarded his batting as a side line and as No. 9 generally endeavoured to go for the bowling, paying little attention to defensive play. Consequently, he often threw his wicket away.

Worthington first gave real evidence of his ability as a run-getter in 1928 when against Essex at Chesterfield he made 133 in dazzling fashion. Among his strokes were four 6's and twelve 4's and he reached three figures in 100 minutes.

Scoring over 1,000 runs in both the 1928 and 1929 seasons, besides retaining his skill as a bowler, he came to the fore at a time when English cricket was flourishing and places in representative teams were not easily obtained, but he was chosen to go to Australia and New Zealand with A.H.H. Gilligan's side in the winter of 1929-30.

If accomplishing nothing out of the ordinary on that trip when he made his first appearance in Test matches -- against New Zealand -- Worthington, a serious minded fellow, returned to England resolved to improve his batting.

Seeing good players in action and bowling to them taught him many things and as Derbyshire were well served by bowlers he was able to pay more attention to run-getting. The fruits of his devotion to the finer points of this phase of the game were soon reaped. In 1933 he hit the highest score of his career, 200 not out against Worcestershire at Chesterfield, and his most successful season as a batsman came in 1936, when for the fifth consecutive year he returned a four-figure aggregate.

Considering that in August 1935 Worthington had his jaw broken when batting against Yorkshire at Scarborough, his quick return to form last summer was remarkable, especially as Derbyshire called on him to open the innings, a task he had never previously undertaken. He took revenge from Yorkshire with a grand innings of 135, and when Leyland could not play against India in the Manchester Test the selectors turned to Worthington, who, showing that he possessed the big match temperament, proved a splendid deputy by scoring 87 and helping Hammond in a valuable stand of 127.

His play in that match earned him a place in the team for Australia and an invitation followed for the last Test at the Oval where he hit 127, his first century for England, and once again indulged in a big partnership with Hammond, the pair adding 266.

On his day Worthington is one of the hardest hitters in English cricket and his willingness to occupy any position in the batting order, coupled with his readiness to punish any type of bowling and his ability to take a hand in the attack, proved of incalculable value to Derbyshire last season in carrying off the Championship. Standing six feet and powerfully built, he is a big-hearted player and makes full use of his excellent physique. Essentially a front-of-the-wicket batsman, he can drive with splendid vigour and also has a partiality for scoring on the leg side. Bowling above medium pace, he relies on swerve to baffle the adversary, and in addition he is an excellent fielder in almost any position. In the course of eleven full seasons he has made over 10,000 runs and taken 600 wickets.

© John Wisden & Co