CRICKETER OF THE YEAR 1930

Edward Henry Bowley

EDWARD HENRY BOWLEY, since the war the mainstay of Sussex batting, was born on June 7, 1890, at Leatherhead, in Surrey. He learned his early cricket at Liss and Stodham Park in Hampshire, these being the first clubs he played for before he went to the Sussex nursery.

His father used to have a wicket made in a field at the back of the house at Liss, and good length bowling from his parent was the chief practice Bowley had until he threw in his fortunes with Sussex. While at Brighton he improved as the result of batting in good company, owing much to the excellent advice given him by Joe Vine and Albert Relf.

Bowley played his first match for Sussex in 1912 and in the following season took part in only four Country games but in only four County games but in 1914 he became a regular member of the side and in County matches, with a highest innings of 84, scored 1,170 runs and averaged over 27. Then came the war and for Bowley, as for very many others, cricket had to be given up for the more serious business. He joined the Army and, as it happened, did not play again until the season of 1920. Thenceforward his cricketing career has been uninterrupted.

In 1920 he showed that his absence from the game had not impaired his powers for he made 1,470 runs with an average of 29. Except in 1924, which was a bad season for most of the Sussex players, Bowley has, since his first year after the war, regularly made over 1,000 runs for the county while in 1928 his aggregate amounted to 2,130, his average being 43. On five occasions he played three-figure innings. He had, for some time, been taking wickets -- never more than 50 -- but the year before last he obtained eighty-two wickets at a cost of 25 runs apiece. This was easily his best all-round season.

Last summer, he made 1,884 runs with an average of 43 and a highest innings of 280 not out against Gloucestershire at Brighton. He also took sixty-four wickets at an average cost of 23 runs each.

On two occasions -- in 1923 and 1927 he came out at the top of the batting. The latter year was a great one for him, for he obtained his best average, viz., 57, with an aggregate of 1,882 runs and a highest score of 220. In the winter of 1924-25 Bowley visited South Africa with the team taken out by the Hon. L.H. Tennyson. The tour being unofficial, the representative games did not count as Test matches, but Bowley fared uncommonly well, heading the averages with 36 and a highest innings of 118, while in all matches he was third with an average of 37 and, taking fourteen wickets for 13 runs each, top in bowling. He played three three-figure innings -- one of these in the representative match at Durban.

Last season he took part in the Gentlemen and Players match at Lord's with modest success and was also picked for England in the Test matches with South Africa at Leeds and Manchester. After the season was over he, as a member of the M.C.C. team, visited New Zealand where, for two or three winters, he had been coaching.

Having regard to the consistently good work he had done for his county it is surprising that Bowley did not receive recognition for a representative engagement earlier in his career. It is quite likely that he would have been an even better batsman but for the fact that so much depended on him in county matches. Repeatedly, if he failed, the batting broke down. Consequently in the earlier years after the war he had to exercise pronounced restraint.

During the last three or four seasons, however, he played his natural game, attacking the bowling directly he went in, and this enterprise paid him. At his best he is a delightful cricketer to watch for over and above his fine driving, usually well kept down, he has plenty of other strokes at command. He is also a very fine slip fielder and in recent years has bowled his leg breaks on many occasions with pronounced success.

© John Wisden & Co