CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1923

Andy Sandham

ANDREW SANDHAM was born at Streatham on the 6th of July, 1890, and thus plays for Surrey under the best of qualifications. His early cricket was played for Streatham United and afterwards he played the Mitcham Club. He describes himself as a self-taught batsman, having imbibed all his ideas of correct play from watching Tom Hayward at the Oval. He certainly could not have chosen better mode. In two respects he recalls Hayward vividly--one beautiful straightness of his bat and his remarkable power of forcing the ball away off his legs. His play off his legs is indeed most distinctive gift and it was never revealed more strikingly an when he scored 195 last season at the Oval against Cambridge University. Sandham came out for Surrey in 1911, and with scores of 53 against Cambridge and 60 against Lancashire proved once that he was no ordinary colt. Good judges who noted his felt sure he was a batsman with a future. Still he found no road to fame. In 1912 he played in only one county match, and in 1913, though he hit up a score of 196 against Sussex at the Oval, he could not get an assured place in the Surrey eleven. He had a most discouraging experience in the following year when, the season cut short by the out-break of the war, he took part five county matches and scored only 112 runs. However he kept up his form for the second eleven with an average of 53. The assumption of first-class cricket in 1919 marked the turning point of Sandham's career. Left out of the Surrey team at the height of the season he had a triumphant return early in August, scoring 175 not out against Middlesex at the Oval, and his anxieties were at an end. From that day till now he has only once looked back. In 1920 he finished up a good second to Hobbs in the Surrey averages but the season was far advanced before, apart from one innings, he found his form. Then in the last weeks of August he played as he had never played in his life, his success culminating with scores of 167 not out and 68 in the memorable match, at Lord's which gave Middlesex the Championship. In 1921 Hobbs's accident and subsequent illness placed a heavy responsibility upon Sandham but he was equal to it. Again he was slow in getting to his best, and again he did wonderful things in August. It might be said that his position as a representative batsman was officially recognised when he was picked for the last of the Test matches with the Australians. Very rarely does Sandham attempt to bowl, but as an out-field it would not be easy to find his superior. Those of us who year after year see more than half our cricket at the Oval need not apologise for being enthusiastic about his work at long-on and deep third man. He is untiring and seldom indeed does the ball beat him if there is any possibility of crossing it. Though not over fond of cricket statistics I wish there were some means of calculating the number of runs he saves in a season.

© John Wisden & Co