CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1923

Charlie Parker

Charles Charlie Parker, is a cricketer to whom fame did not come till late in his career. It is only since the War that he has taken a prominent position among English bowlers. Born at Prestbury on the 14th of October, 1884 he played golf as a boy and gave no serious thought to cricket till he was seventeen or eighteen years of age. When at Tewkesbury he came under the notice of F. H. Healing, who taught him practically all he knows about bowling and after a time recommended him to the Gloucestershire Committee. He played his first match for the County against Lancashire at Old Trafford in 1905.

It was rather a good omen that he got R. H. Spooner's wicket with the second ball he bowled, but owing to a bad knee he could not follow up this promising start. Nothing was seen of him in the Gloucestershire eleven in 1906 and in the following year he played in only seven matches. However, he established himself in the team in 1908 and kept his place till the War put a stop to first-class cricket. During that time he did a lot of useful work, but it cannot be said that he ever rose above the level of an ordinarily good county bowler. Even in his best seasons he was quite overshadowed by Dennett and no one imagined that he would live to bowl for England.

He was twice rejected for the Army but was eventually taken into the Royal Air Force. It was not till the second season after the resumption of cricket that he really asserted himself. In 1919 he was very much the bowler he had been but in 1920 he left his previous form behind, taking 125 wickets for Gloucestershire at a cost of less than sixteen runs apiece. Despite the dry summer and the enormous amount of work he had to do, he was better still in 1921, and in the Test match at Manchester he played for England. He had little chance of distinction but he bowled well on a pitch that was too dead to help him. His record for the season of 1921 came out at 164 wickets for a trifle over 17½ runs each--very good indeed in a summer of almost continuous sunshine.

Last season Parker reached his highest point, taking for Gloucestershire 195 wickets. He must at times have bewailed his luck in playing for a county so weak in batting. No matter how cheaply he got the other sides out he could seldom hope to be rewarded by victory. To take the most conspicuous case, he put Gloucestershire in a winning position against Yorkshire in his benefit match at Bristol, but poor batting quite discounted his splendid work.

I have seen Parker so seldom that I can say little about his bowling from personal observation. His main strength lies, I think, in the fact that with the left-handed slow bowler's usual spin and break he combines a little extra speed. He is not strictly speaking a slow bowler, but rather a bowler on the slow side of medium pace. This is, I admit, a nice distinction, but it makes him more difficult to hit. The batsman thinks twice before jumping out to drive him.

© John Wisden & Co