CRICKETER OF THE YEAR 1915

Percy Fender

PERCY GEORGE HERBERT FENDER was born in Surrey on the 10th of August, 1892. He is not a cricketer whose value can in any way be gauged from figures or averages. As a match winning factor he is a far greater force on a side than his records would suggest. Tom Hayward said of him last season that he was the making of the Surrey eleven, and a higher compliment could scarcely have been paid him. Of even greater value than his bowling or his fearless hitting was his brilliant fielding in the slips. He was just the man that Hitch wanted as he could be trusted to make almost any catch, high or low, that came reasonably within reach. His decision to play last year for the county of his birth was a sad blow to the Sussex people, who had given him his chance in first-class cricket. Mr. Fender learnt the game at St. George's College, Addlestone, but he did not take very seriously to cricket till he went to St. Paul's School. There he made a great mark, being at the top of the batting in 1909 and again in the following year. It was while he was at St. Paul's that he appeared first in county cricket. His early efforts for Sussex attracted no attention. He played in two county matches in 1910 and two in 1911, but his best score in those two seasons was 26, and his bowling only amounted to ten overs. His real career began in the season of 1912. His doings in purely county matches were nothing out of the ordinary, but against Oxford University, at Horsham, he revealed his strength as a batsman, hitting up 133 not out. In 1913, as everyone knows, he jumped right into the front rank. For two months he did such brilliant things in batting that he was picked for the Gentlemen both at the Oval and Lord's. Possibly, the promotion was premature. Whether or not the importance of the matches upset his nerves, he failed, his four innings--one a not out--producing only 17 runs. The disappointment, no doubt, affected him, as during the rest of the season he was never the batsman he had been in May and June. Thanks to his early successes, however, he came out with an aggregate of 1,031 runs for Sussex in county matches and an average of 23. As a bowler he took 22 wickets but at a very heavy cost. What he did for Surrey last summer will be found in another portion of the Almanack. At first he was a little uncertain in form, but at the end of May his fine bowling and fielding against Yorkshire at Bradford, followed in the same week by an innings of 140 against Warwickshire at the Oval, firmly established his position in the Surrey eleven. After that he always seemed the right man in the right place. As a change bowler he was invaluable and though, like all hitters, he had his failures as a batsman, he generally managed to get runs when they were wanted. A notable case was the match with Kent at Lord's. Missed before he had scored, he showed his gratitude by hitting up 48, on a very nasty wicket, in scarcely more than twenty minutes. He had a big share in Surrey's victory as apart from his hitting, which ensured a good lead on the first innings, he took five wickets. It would be flattery to describe Mr. Fender as a sound batsman, the temptation of the pull too often leading him astray, but he is such a fine and daring hitter that he must always be very dangerous, more especially in the latter part of an innings when bowlers are getting tired. As a bowler, medium pace with a nice high action, he is very persevering and always looks to be making the ball do something. He gets a lot of spin on his leg breaks and every now and then he bowls a googlie. Unlike most men he enjoys bowling to left-handed batsmen, and his success against them is remarkable. Directly the season was over he joined the colours, obtaining a commission as a lieutenant in the Royal Fusiliers

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