CRICKETER OF THE YEAR 1911

Henry Foster

MR. HENRY KNOLLYS FOSTER, the eldest member of the famous cricket family, was born on October 30th, 1873, and first came into prominence in the Malvern Eleven. Considering what Malvern cricketers have done during the last fifteen years or so, it is strange to think that the school was never represented in the University match until Mr. P. H. Latham played for Cambridge in 1892. Mr. Foster says he was always fond of cricket, and as a small boy took to it quite naturally. He does not think that he owes his batting in any special degree to coaching. He left Malvern after the season of 1892, heading the batting that year with an average of 37. In the eleven with him in 1892 were his brother W. L. Foster, W. W. Lowe, the fast bowler, and a young cricketer-then under seventeen-destined, like the Fosters, to become famous, C. J. Burnup. Having done so well at School H. K. Foster went up to Oxford with a big reputation but, for some reason, he was never given a trial in the University team of 1893. He scored 26 and 32 for Sixteen Freshmen against the Eleven, but that was all. That L. C. H. Palairet was at fault in passing him over subsequent events clearly proved. There were many brilliant cricketers among the Oxford Freshmen that year, one being P. F. Warner, H. K. Foster got his chance in 1894 and did very well for the eleven, averaging twenty-nine with only G. J. Mordaunt and C. B. Fry above him. Oxford had rather a quaint season. They beat Cambridge by eight wickets but that was the only match they won. Foster's reputation as a first-rate batsman dates from 1895. Oxford went up to Lord's with, on paper, a very fine side, but to nearly everyone's surprise they lost the University match by 134 runs. While the team failed, however, Foster enjoyed nothing less than a triumph. Left with 331 to get Oxford were all out for 196, of which number Foster scored 121. During the fifteen years that have passed away since that memorable Saturday afternoon he has made numberless fine scores, but it may be questioned if he has ever played more brilliantly. The innings ranks indeed among the very best ever seen in the University match. In first wicket down and the seventh man to leave, he made his 121 runs out of 159 in a trifle over two hours, his only mistake being a sharp chance to cover-point's left hand when his score stood at 45. One can remember as vividly as if the match had taken place last season the pace at which his cuts and off-drives went to the boundary. To play such an innings and yet be on the losing side was the very irony of cricket. Foster wound up his career for Oxford with the famous match of 1896 when Oxford, taking an ample revenge for the previous year's disaster, scored 330 in the last innings for six wickets. He however, had no great share in the victory, scoring 11 and 34. Since his Oxford days, Foster as everyone knows has been the mainstay of the Worcestershire team. He was captain of the eleven when the county secured promotion to the first-class in 1899 and only at the end of the past season did he resign the position. A record of what he has done for Worcestershire in the last twelve seasons would fill several pages of Wisden. Happily, although he has handed over the leadership to G. H. Simpson-Hayward, he has no intention of giving up the game. As a batsman H. K. Foster is one of the masters of style. Not half-a-dozen men now before the public play in more attractive form. He is essentially an off-side player, but like all the moderns he can pull with plenty of power. There is a certain appropriateness in giving his portrait in Wisden now, though it should have appeared long ago, as he captained the Gentlemen last season both at the Oval and Lord's. He has never played in any Test Match cricket and says that he has never wished to do so.

© John Wisden & Co