CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1909

Alan Marshal

ALAN MARSHAL, whose hitting was the most remarkable feature of last year"s cricket at the Oval, describes himself as real Queensland. He was born in Warwick, on the Darling Downs, on June 12th, 1883, and went to Brisbane with his parents when he was four years of age. He tells me that his earliest recollections of cricket date back to a time when, with his two brothers, Marcus and Isby, he used to play in front of the house in Gladstone Road, South Brisbane. The first club he played for was the Brooksteads, named after his father"s house, and he was afterwards associated with the Franklins and the Cliftons, for which latter club he was captain, secretary, treasurer, and ground- keeper. Then, in days before the Electoral system of cricket came in vogue, he played for the Graziers. About this time he came in contact with Percy McDonnell, Harry Boyle, Cunningham, and Sam Jones, and learnt a lot of cricket from them. There was not much serious coaching, but Jones used occasionally to show the young cricketers how things ought to be done. A little later Marshal played for the Manor School, and had rather a rough experience on asphalt wickets. When the Electoral system was adopted he played for the South Brisbane Club, starting in the B Grade but soon earning promotion. With the advantage of batting on turf wickets he rapidly improved and though, to use his own words, he was nowhere at chemistry, there were not many players ahead of him in the batting averages. On this part of his career, during which he was associated with Doctor Macdonald, Marshal looks back with keen delight. Sometime before leaving for England he had a season with the Paddington Club in Sydney and played in a match in which Victor Trumper scored 324. Of Marshal"s career in this country I need not go into details. Everyone interested in cricket knows what he has done and how rapidly he has jumped into the front rank. Nor need I dwell on the little storm that was raised when the Surrey Committee, on the strength of his 4,000 runs in club cricket in 1906, determined to give him a full trial for the county. I will only say that here was no case of taking a player away from a weaker club. Marshal had duly qualified, and the Surrey Committee, under the rules governing county cricket, had a perfect right to play him. That he has turned out a prize is altogether beside the question. In 1907, though he played several fine innings and scored over a thousand runs for Surrey, he was a trifle disappointing. He seemed afraid to let himself go and rarely or never did full justice to his extraordinary powers as a hitter. Last summer, however, everything was different. Secure of his place in the eleven he played his natural game and revealed himself as a driver rarely equalled for sheer power since the days of C. I. Thornton and Bonner. Some of his hits in the matches against Middlesex and Kent at the Oval, in August were, I think, beyond the capacity of any other batsman now playing in first-class cricket. Marshal has not Jessop"s ability to score in all directions from bowling of all kinds of length, but with his immense advantages of height and reach-he must stand nearly 6ft 3ins.-he can certainly send the ball further. His fame will no doubt rest chiefly on his batting, but in every way he is a thorough cricketer. Place him where you will, there is no finer fieldsman to be found-he is about the safest catch in England-and though there has perhaps been a tendency to exaggerate his merits as a bowler, he commands a good variety of pace with plenty of spin. Take him altogether he is one of the most interesting figures in the cricket field, and if he should go on as he has begun there will be no limit to his success.

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