CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1934

Cyril Walters

Cyril Frederick Walters, who last summer enjoyed such phenomenal success as a batsman, was born on August 28, 1905, at Bedlinog, Glamorgan. He learned his early cricket at the County School Neath, and there came under the direction of A. Webb, the old Hampshire player, then coaching the boys at the school. His progress to begin with was moderate, and as he himself says he never thought he would be good enough to play in county cricket. His introduction to Glamorgan was due to T. A. L. Whittington, who was then captain of the county eleven, and Walters at once based his style on that of his sponsor. Subsequently he had special coaching from Fred Bowley, the former Worcestershire batsman, and we first hear to him in important cricket in 1923. Thenceforward until 1928 he played for Glamorgan, but only in 1926 did he meet with any real success, when he scored 583 runs with an average of 34, and played two innings of a hundred, the higher being 116.

Apart from that one year his record for Glamorgan--just then going through a critical period both financially and from the playing point of view--was, frankly, a poor one. Certainly, in eleven innings in 1927, he averaged over 30, but there was nothing in his batting during his association with his native county suggest even in the slightest degree that he would attain to such distinction as came his way in 1933.

The opportunity of becoming secretary to Worcestershire marked a big change in the cricket career of Walters. Having qualified by residence, he started playing for the midland county in 1930, and, from being just an ordinary batsman with no claims at all to be regarded as in the first flight, he at once became a tower of strength to the Worcestershire eleven. In the course of four years he made such pronounced improvement that last season he was picked for England against the West Indies in all three Test Matches. Subsequently he accepted the invitation extended to him to make one of the M.C.C. team touring India under the captaincy of D. R. Jardine. After joining Worcestershire he came to the conclusion that his methods and style were wrong. Very reluctantly he had to admit that the lessons taught him earlier were not suited to present-day requirements. So, to all intents and purposes, he started afresh. He followed his own ideas; found them to his liking and has since had no cause to alter his opinion. In his first year with Worcestershire he had an aggregate of 1,021 with an average of 25, and after that he went steadily forward until last season he made 2,165 runs and, with a highest score of 226, averaged over 51. As in the previous summer, he came out top of the county figures. The duties of captaincy, which he took over in 1931, did not impair his powers as a batsman, and although the side under his command are noticeably deficient in the shape of consistency among their bowlers, there can be little doubt that the example of Walters has had a wonderfully good effect upon the batsmen of the eleven.

Scoring in the course of the summer of 1933 no fewer than nine separate hundreds, Walters put all previous records for Worcestershire in this direction completely in the shade. The doings of the Fosters--and notably the late R. E.--and Arnold were, for years, fruitful topics of conversation among supporters of cricket in the county, but none of the heroes of a past era of Worcestershire cricket ever had such a brilliantly successful season as Walters. He maintained his form at a high level from the beginning of May until the end of August.

Although failing at The Oval, he had every reason to be well satisfied with his first appearances in Test cricket in England. He made 51 at Lord's and 46 at Manchester, playing so well in these innings that it was at once felt a satisfactory successor to either Hobbs or Sutcliffe had been discovered. If somewhat slightly built, Walters showed both at Lord's and Old Trafford that he not only possessed a good eye but a flexible pair of wrists. Also, his footwork was excellent. Essentially a stylist, Walters, as a rule, drives with great power and correct placing of the ball, while on the leg side he can turn it with the utmost delicacy. Everyone who saw the match agreed that when he and Hammond were in together against the West Indies at Lord's the batting of the two men, for sheer grace of style and beauty of execution, could not have been bettered. As Walters is in addition an extremely good outfieldsman, we must all be thankful that on suffering an injury to his shoulder he gave up playing Rugby football in the fear that it would stop his cricket.

© John Wisden & Co