BOWLER OF THE YEAR - 1924

Cecil Parkin

CECIL H. PARKIN was born at Eaglescliffe, near Yarm-on Tees, Durham, on the 18th of February, 1887. Expert opinion differs a good deal about Parkin as a bowler, but there can be no question that among the professional cricketers to-day he is one of the most striking and interesting personalities. In his own vivacious little book, published last year, he has told us a lot about himself, his keen interest in the game from early boyhood, the valuable hints he received from Charles Townsend, and all the rest of it. To the public he was unknown till 1914. Stepping out of league cricket, he made a truly sensational first appearance for Lancashire, taking fourteen wickets against Leicestershire at Liverpool, and winning the game for his side in the easiest fashion. He varied his pace and length with such skill and got such an amount of spin on the ball as to leave no doubt in the minds of those who saw him that a bowler of remarkable gifts had been discovered. Owing to League engagements which claimed his services on Saturdays he only played in five more matches for Lancashire in 1914, and then came the long blank of the war. When in 1919 first-class cricket was resumed Parkin at once jumped into the position which has been his ever since. Very little was seen of him in the Lancashire eleven, but he brought about Yorkshire's downfall in the Whit Monday match at Old Trafford, taking in all fourteen wickets and bewildering the batsmen by his varied devices. This success gained him a place in the Players' eleven both at the Oval and Lord's he got on remarkably well but he found that, no matter how effective it might be in League cricket, the very slow ball of which he was then so found could be easily detected by first-class batsmen. That was proved once for all by Donald Knight at Lord's. In the Gentlemen and Players' match at the Oval in 1920 Parkin met with startling success, taking nine wickets--six of them bowled down--in the first innings, and when the negotiations with Barnes fell through, his selection for the M. C. C.'s England team in Australia was assured. His doings in that disastrous tour did not enhance his reputation. He was the best bowler on the side but he could not prevent Australia winning all the Test Matches, the sixteen wickets he took in those all-important games costing him nearly 42 runs apiece. Again in the Test Matches at home in 1921 he was out by himself among the bowlers who vainly strove to stop Australia's unprecedented run of success. He did good work at times--one recalls some wonderful overs that met with no reward on the second morning at Lord's--but he needed far stronger support than he ever received. Since those unhappy days in England's cricket history everything has gone well with Parkin. In 1922, having finished with league cricket, he for the first time played for Lancashire all through the season. Often irresistible, but now and then freely knocked about, he took 172 wickets in county matches for just over 16½ runs each. Last year with 176 wickets for his county and 209 in first-class matches he touched, so far, his highest point. Watched from the ring Parkin is a most impressive bowler; there is something fascinating in his ceaseless experiments. Admittedly modelled on Barnes, he lacks the master's power of disguising what he is trying to do. I regard it as a misfortune that he has never yet had the advantage of playing under a great captain.

© John Wisden & Co