CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1934

Morris Nichols

Morris Stanley Nichols was born at Stondon Massey, near Ongar, Essex on October 6, 1900 and when six years of age his family moved to Downham, near Wickford. In that village, under the eye of his father--himself a good all-round cricketer who afterwards turned his attention to farming--Nichols learned the rudiments of the game and he still talks of the encouragement received from Dick Patmore, the proprietor of the Swan at Wickford.

Many happy hours were spent at Wickford in the second eleven, but the turning point of his career occurred when his family moved to Chelmsford. There Nichols played for the local club and it was Percy Turrall, the captain, who introduced him to the Essex authorities in 1924. Before the War Nichols played at Leyton as a mere lad for a Licensed Victuallers's team, going in first with his father who made a century but getting a duck himself.

In the year of his debut, 1924, when he played in two County matches, against Yorkshire at Hull, and Northamptonshire at Northampton, he came to Leyton as a left-handed batsman. Percy Perrin, however, made a mental note of his pace at the nets and in a Club and Ground match he handed him the new ball. This began his career as a fast right-arm bowler and to-day he stands out as the only Essex professional who has ever taken over a hundred wickets and scored over a thousand runs in one season. His old and revered captain, John Douglas, achieved the cricketer's double five times, and so far the professional has done it three times inside ten years.

When in 1925 Nichols gained a regular place in the side he took 52 wickets and scored 197 runs. In the next two seasons he made an astonishing advance with 114 and 123 wickets in the order named. The campaign of 1928, though eloquent of his zeal for runs furnished him with only 67 wickets; but in 1929 he accomplished the double for the first time with 1,301 runs and 104 wickets. The season of 1930 gave him a bag of 121 with 914 runs; in the following year his victims totalled 97 and his runs 872.

Then came his second vintage year, when in 1932 he captured 115 wickets and scored 1,430 runs. Repeating the double last year during the most successful season in the history of the county he also reached his own best as a bowler with 145 wickets in addition to scoring 1,406 runs.

In his contorted run up Nichols undeniably lacks the grace and rhythm of his predecessor, Buckenham, but nature has given him a more powerful frame and then, of course, his batting must also be thrown into the scale. In another comparison fortune has smiled on Nichols, for Buckenham, like C. J. Kortright, probably suffered more from errors in the field than any other of the fast bowlers, including Pickett and F. A. Bishop, who have represented Essex.

Upon two occasions Nichols has played for England in home Tests: once at Old Trafford in 1930 against Australia and at The Oval last summer against West Indies. Abroad in four Tests against New Zealand (1929-30) he headed the batting averages with the majestic figures of 92.50, and in the opening stages of the tour he had the advantage of acquainting himself with the leading cricket grounds of Australia. Other tours include the West Indies in 1929 with Sir Julien Cahn's team and again in 1932 under the captaincy of Lord Tennyson. Then he heard and accepted the call of the M.C.C. last autumn when our representatives sailed for India.

The honour of taking all ten wickets has not yet, like it did in 1895 to Harry Pickett at Leyton against Leicestershire, fallen to Nichols, but at Chelmsford in 1927 he captured nine Hampshire wickets for 59. Again in 1930 his figures were nine for 116 against Middlesex at Leyton and another good performance was achieved in 1931 at Leeds where he dismissed six Yorkshire men for 26 runs. His highest score (138) was made in 1929 against Hampshire at Leyton where, as in other notable achievements, vigour and good stroke play in front of the wicket marked his batting.--Frank Thorogood.

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