CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1915

Sidney Smith

MR. SIDNEY GORDON SMITH was born in the West Indies on the 15th of January, 1881. It was in 1906 that he was first seen on English cricket grounds. He came to this country with the West Indians that year and proved himself the best all-round man on a side of no great strength. The matches attracted little attention, the programme arranged for the team being far too ambitious. Smith had quite a modest record, but he made hundreds against South Wales and Hampshire, and took sixty-six wickets during the tour. Both as batsman and bowler he made a good impression, and it was soon arranged that he should stay in England and qualify for Northamptonshire. While qualifying he was, by courtesy, allowed to play against the Philadelphians in 1908 and, thanks largely to his all-round cricket, Northamptonshire gained a victory. Smith took, in all, nine wickets for 67 runs, and won the game at the finish with an innings of 76 not out. In 1909 he took his place in the Northamptonshire eleven, and since then he has been one of the chief supports of the side. His first season's work left no room for doubt as to his value. Among those who played regularly he was at the top of the batting averages, and ninety-four wickets fell to him at a cost of little more than 18 runs apiece. Early in the summer he was out of health, but as soon as he recovered he did himself full justice. From the first he was a very versatile batsman, playing a brilliant or a cautious game as the occasion or the state of the wicket demanded. His bowling, apart from its own excellence, formed a striking contrast to that of George Thompson. From his good start Smith has seldom fallen away as a batsman, but in 1910 and 1911 his bowling was both expensive and ineffective. He was the first batsman who ever made a thousand runs for Northamptonshire and, in the same season--1910--he set up what was then another record for the county, playing an innings of 204 against Gloucestershire. In 1912 he regained all his skill with the ball and, thanks chiefly to the splendid work done by him and Thompson, Northamptonshire jumped into second place among the counties, finishing very little below Yorkshire. Smith had another splendid season for Northamptonshire in 1913, scoring nearly 1,300 runs in county matches and taking 100 wickets. Though so much of his best work has been done for Northamptonshire, he is not exclusively a county cricketer. He was given his first trials for Gentlemen against Players at the Oval and Lord's in 1909, and, though overshadowed that year as a bowler by D. W. Carr, made his mark at once, taking five wickets in the Players' second innngs at the Oval for 40 runs. At Lord's in 1913 he played an innings of 65, and last July at Lord's he had a big share in the Gentlemen's victory, hitting up scores of 52 and 50. Left-handed both as batsman and bowler, S. G. Smith is a very individual cricketer. Quick to seize every chance of scoring, he is a dangerous bat on slow wickets. Even under very bad conditions he is quite likely to get fifty runs. A purely slow bowler, he combines with his spin remarkable accuracy of length. His bowling offers endless temptations to batsmen, but thanks to the certainty of his pitch he is by no means easy to hit. He took up the captaincy of the Northamptonshire Eleven in 1913, when Mr. Vials broke down, and retained the post last summer.

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