BOWLER OF THE YEAR - 1924

Roy Kilner

ROY KILNER, who on the general form of 1923 seems clearly marked out for Test Match honours, was born at Low Valley, Wombwell, near Barnsley, on October 17,1890. One could wish he were a few years younger; like many others, he suffered from the long break caused by the war. He comes of a family of cricketers, the best known of whom, apart from himself and his brother Norman, being his uncle, Irving Washington, who was on the high road to fame as a left-handed batsman for Yorkshire when a severe illness cut his career short in 1902. Roy Kilner qualified himself for first-class cricket by a course of training with Yorkshire's second eleven and was allocated by the committee to the Harrogate Club. He was first seen in the Yorkshire eleven in the season of 1911. Tried in seven matches, he earned little distinction, but in the following summer he made a great advance, playing in twenty-three matches and getting an average of 22. He went right ahead for the county as a batsman in 1913 and 1914, but the bowling which has since done so much to make him famous is purely a post-war product. In the war he served in the Leeds and Bradford Pals, and was wounded in the right wrist when in the assembling trenches preparatory to the onslaught on Lens on July 1, 1916--the action in which M. W. Booth was killed. What Roy Kilner has done since the resumption of first-class cricket in 1919 will be fresh in everyone's memory. Perhaps in other circumstances he would have remained just a batsman and fieldsman, but the loss of Booth, and the subsequent death of Drake, followed, by the retirement of George Hirst, brought about a new situation in Yorkshire cricket. Roy Kilner set to work to become a first-rate bowler and quickly made his mark. Still, though he took thirty-eight wickets with a good average in the two-day county matches in 1919, it was not till the season of 1922 that he could be described as a real force with the ball. Leaving his previous form far behind he had a record of 101 wickets in county matches at a cost of less than 14½ runs each. Going further ahead last season he took 139 wickets for Yorkshire in county matches with a remarkable average and came out third in batting. His most startling, and probably his best performance, was in the Surrey match at Leeds, when in the last innings he took six wickets for 22 runs, winning a game that at the tea interval seemed hopelessly lost. At the present time Kilner is beyond question one of the best all-round cricketers in England. His hard work as a bowler has in no way affected either his batting or his fielding. As a left-handed slow bowler he has, apart from his fine spin and accuracy of length, the sovereign quality of imagination. He is always thinking out new ways of beating the batsman. It is not for nothing that he so often bowls over the wicket, this device, rarely adopted by left-handers, being very valuable as a contrast to Rhodes when the two men are on together. Devoted to the game and blessed with a cheery temperament, Roy Kilner is quite a personality among present-day players.

© John Wisden & Co