CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1910

Douglas Carr

DOUGLAS WARD CARR, the now famous slow-bowler, was born at Cranbrook in Kent, on March 17th, 1872. Whatever he may do in the future, Mr. Carr can already boast of a record which is absolutely unique in the history of cricket. There is no other instance of a man playing for England in a Test Match in his first year in good class cricket. During the season of 1908 one heard rumours that Kent possessed an excellent bowler of the South African googly type. I was told this myself and said to my informant, "Why don't they let him loose without warning on Surrey or Yorkshire?" However, to the general cricket public Mr. Carr was quite unknown when last May he played at Oxford for Kent against the University. He met with so much success in that match and made such an impression that the Test Match Selection Committee, to whom the task of picking the Gentlemen and Players' teams had been intrusted, offered him a place in the Gentlemen's eleven, both at the Oval and Lord's. He did not have the good fortune to be on the winning side in either match, but that was no fault of his. At the Oval he bowled especially well, even the batsmen who made runs against him being sadly puzzled by his deceptive break. At Lord's he did very well on the first day, but in the Players' second innings he was much handicapped by having to bowl between the showers with a wet ball. So much was thought of his form against the Players that experts and the general public alike came to the conclusion that he ought to be picked for England in the last two Test Matches. England's position was then very critical, the victory at Birmingham having been wiped out by defeats at Lord's and Leeds. Retained at Manchester he was left out on the morning of the match, the wicket being considered too soft to suit him, but he duly appeared for England at the Oval in August. As everyone will remember he started off in great form in that memorable game, getting rid of Gregory, Armstrong, and Noble very cheaply. He might have followed up these early successes more effectively, but MacLaren, with a sad lack of judgment, tired him out, letting him bowl for fully an hour and a half without a rest. After the Test Match, Mr. Carr did some capital work for Kent, especially on the last morning of the Canterbury Week, and at Scarborough he had a big share in the victory of Lord Londesborough's eleven over the Australians.

Mr. Carr went to school at Sutton Valence in Kent, and thence proceeded to Brasenose College, Oxford. He took part in the Freshmen's match in 1891, but owing to knee trouble-the result of a football accident-he played very little cricket at Oxford. Since those days he has taken part in a lot of club cricket in Kent, playing for the Mote Park, the Band of Brothers, etc. Mr. Carr writes me "I was always a leg-break bowler of sorts, but often used to bowl medium fast stuff. I started trying to acquire the 'googly' about four years ago, and practiced hard all that winter and the following spring, only to find that directly I had got the off-spin I lost the old leg-break entirely-in fact for that season I hardly made the ball turn at all either way. In the following year I got a bit better, and in August 1908 I really got the thing going, and met with some success in club cricket." Mr. Carr is not one of those who think that googly bowling is going to rob batsmen of all their grace and freedom of style. On the contrary he says "I am quite certain of one thing, and that is that in a very short time everybody will be quite able to distinguish between the two breaks." These remarks are in strong contrast to the pessimistic prophecies that some first-rate experts have indulged in. Fame has come to Mr. Carr rather late, but remembering what was done in middle age by such slow bowlers of the past as David Buchanan, James Southerton, and Alfred Shaw, he may look forward to a good deal of first-class cricket.

© John Wisden & Co