CRICKETER OF THE YEAR 1911

Alfred Hartley

MR ALFRED HARTLEY. Few cricketers in recent seasons have come more rapidly to the front than Mr. Alfred Hartley. Born in the West Indies in 1879 he was unknown to the cricket public when in 1907, on the strength of his fine form for the second eleven, he was given three trials for Lancashire. No great success rewarded these early efforts, but he quite justified the course taken by the Lancashire Committee, scoring 126 runs in six innings. For the second eleven he scored 566 runs with an average of 35. Having the necessary time to spare he was bound to be given further opportunities, and, when in 1908 he led off in Lancashire's first match with an innings of 109 against Somerset at Bath, a great deal was expected of him. During the rest of that summer he did nothing out of the common, but he played very consistently and had the satisfaction in his first full season of making 1,053 runs in county matches alone. Still, although quite worth his place in the Lancashire team, he scarcely impressed critics with the notion that he would take a high place among the batsmen of his day. He was not master of many strokes, getting most of his runs on the on-side. However, it was clear that he had great patience and a strong defence. In 1909, as all who follow cricket will remember, he made a very marked advance. In two matches he scored over a hundred-against Kent at Manchester, and Sussex at Eastbourne- and his record in county matches for the season came out at 1,129 runs with an average of 36. Among those who played regularly Sharp alone stood above him. R. H. Spooner nominally headed the averages, but he only played in six matches out of twenty-four. Hartley was in reality a far more valuable member of the eleven then even his excellent figures suggested, as his unvarying steadiness kept the side together in match after match. Still the previous criticism that he had not many ways of scoring held good. He was an admirable man to go in first but he did not strike people as being more than a very good county batsman. Last season he left all his previous form far behind. While retaining to the full his strength of defence he gained greatly in punishing power and, though the wretched weather at the end of August restricted his chances, he scored 1,511 runs for Lancashire with an average of 38. In such a summer this was a fine record but, inasmuch as he made 234 against Somerset at Manchester and 126 not out against the same county at Bath, his figures were a trifle flattering. Beyond question his best innings was 168 against Leicestershire at Leicester. In the last innings of that match Shipman's bowling proved too good for Tyldesley and Spooner, but for four hours and a half Hartley's defence was impregnable. On the strength of his fine form in the early part of the season Hartley was very properly picked for the Gentlemen, both at the Oval and Lord's. The match at Lord's put him to a stern test indeed. On a wicket on which dead shooters were bowled with a frequency that recalled the cricket of forty years ago most of the batsmen in the Gentlemen's team were helpless against the fine bowling they had to play, but, allowing for all the circumstances, Hartley showed remarkable form. He only scored 24 and 35, but those fifty-nine runs represented nearly three hours and a half's batting. Hartley is not a batsman to draw the crowd, his methods being the reverse of striking to the eye. His style is good and his bat straight, but he does nothing to astonish those who are looking on. Still there is reason to think that, having now fully established his position, he will let himself go a little more than he has done hitherto. The latter part of his second innings for the Gentlemen suggested more driving power than he has yet revealed. He is understood to be ambitious of further distinction in the cricket field, but whether he will ever rise to Test Matches remains to be seen. For the moment he is a worthy successor to Albert Ward in the Lancashire eleven.

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