Cricketer of the Year

Maurice Turnbull

Maurice Joseph Turnbull was born at Cardiff on March 16, 1906. He learned all his early cricket at Downside and such promising form did he show as a junior that his inclusion in the eleven in 1921 became a practical certainty.

He received good advice and encouragement from his father who, although a Yorkshireman, captained Wales for years at hockey. The headmaster of the school, not to mention the cricket professional, helped him in his keen desire to make progress. They allowed him to develop in his own way, and while at school and during his first season at Cambridge he was mainly an on-side player with a tendency for the left wrist to be behind.

Missing his second season at the university owing to an injury to his knee sustained while playing Rugby, he subsequently went to Major Faulkner's school and -- to use his own expression -- changed himself into a fairly normal player. Observing the manner in which N.V.H. Riches gripped his bat he obtained the idea of altering his own method. As he says himself, it was a question of the top hand. His leg-side play fell into desuetude. He now stands forth as a fine off-side batsman, with a capital style, ranking high among his contemporaries.

He was five years in the eleven at Downside and, in his last three seasons, established a great reputation for himself as a schoolboy batsman. In 1924 he made his first appearance for Glamorgan, scoring 40 and 16 against Lancashire on a bowler's wicket at Swansea and helping in no small degree in a surprising victory by 38 runs gained by his county. Captain in his last year at Downside, he had a marvellous season, scoring 1,323 runs with an average of 94.50. This aggregate had only previously been exceeded by J.E. Raphael at Merchant Taylors.

Proceeding to Cambridge, Turnbull scored 97 in the Freshmen's match and got his blue that summer but scarcely realised expectations in the subsequent engagements. As in the previous two years, he assisted Glamorgan, for whom he played a fine innings of 106 not out against Worcestershire, at Cardiff. This was his first hundred in big cricket.

A damaged leg kept him out of the game the following season but, in 1928, he came back to the Cambridge team and, without quite being at the top of his form, acquitted himself very well, obtaining 584 runs with an average of over 25. He played a fine innings of 169 against Sussex. Assisting Glamorgan when able, he finished with an average of 24, but his highest innings for the county was only 51 not out.

The next summer he did not fare so well for Glamorgan but, captaining Cambridge, he enjoyed great success, scoring more than 1,000 runs for them, playing three innings of over a hundred and finishing second in the batting just below E.T. Killick, with an average of 50. As before, he did not particularly distinguish himself in the match against Oxford.

In the winter of 1929-30 he went to New Zealand and Australia with the M.C.C. team and, early in the tour, played very well against New South Wales but, on the whole, was not consistent.

Last year Turnbull was appointed to the captaincy of Glamorgan, a position which, latterly, had been inadequately filled owing to some former captains being unable to devote the necessary time to the game. The difference in the form of the side was almost at once apparent when Turnbull took over the leadership. He brought to his duties a well-balanced mind, a charming personality and a thorough knowledge of the game and, although the county finished in the lower half of the table, they had a much better record than for some years.

Turnbull himself, with two hundreds to help him and only one not out, averaged over 32 with an aggregate of 1,520 runs. In all first-class matches he scored 1,739 runs. His influence on the team was most pronounced. After the close of the season he was given a place in the M.C.C. team for South Africa.

© John Wisden & Co