CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1909

Walter Brearley

MR WALTER BREARLEY. No cricketer now before the public has a more marked individuality than the Lancashire fast bowler, Walter Brearley. In everything he does he is entirely himself and like no one else. As everyone knows he has very modest pretentions as a batsman, but even in his batting there is a tremendous amount of energy. No one walks from the pavilion to the wickets at half his pace, or seems so intent on business. His quick walk, which generally provokes a little laughter from the crowd, is nothing more than a harmless mannerism, but it reveals the inexhaustible vitality that is half the secret of his success in the cricket field. As a fast bowler he has almost from the beginning of his career for Lancashire been a powerful force, but despite all his merits no critic would place him quite on a level with some men who have been seen in this generation. He does not, like Richardson and Lockwood before him, bowl the impossible ball that fizzes off the pitch and breaks back four or five inches from the off but though lacking this one special gift he has nearly every other excellence. He is very fast all the way and considering his great speed he has a fine command over his pitch. Of course, like all other fast bowlers, he is now and again a little short, but the number of long hops he sends down in the course of an afternoon"s play could be counted without much difficulty. As a worker he is untiring. In his case it can be truly said that no day is too long for him. One has seen him on a broiling July day at Lord"s bowl as fast at five o"clock as he had done between the start of play and lunch time. His wonderful stamina, for which he has mainly to thank a fine constitution, has been invaluable to him when playing for Lancashire. Often enough, and never more than last season, he has had less support than he deserved but the greater his responsibility the better he bowls. Personally, I have never admired him more than in the Gentlemen v. Players match at Lord"s in 1905. The pitch was far too slow to suit him but by sheer energy he managed to get some pace out of it and, though the other bowlers on his side were quite harmless, he took seven wickets for 104 runs. Like all successful fast bowlers he has abundant belief in his own powers and that belief he is by no means slow to proclaim. Hence a good many stories that are told about him by his brother cricketers. Born at Bolton on the 11th of March, 1876,and educated at the Tideswell Grammar School, Derbyshire, he served a fairly long apprenticeship to cricket before the public became familiar with his name. Even from his early school days he was a fast bowler. His love of cricket was, I am told, fostered by Mr A. C. Fox, a master at Tideswell, who had charge of the school games. From school Brearley went straight into business, but he found time to keep up his bowling. His first club was Farnworth Parish Church. Thanks to him the club enjoyed great success in local competitions while he remained in the eleven. For part of one season he played for the village club at Farnworth, but during this portion of his career he was not considered very formidable. However on becoming associated with the Bolton Club he soon asserted himself, bowling with marked success for three seasons. After helping Bury for one summer he joined the Manchester Club, which is allied to the Lanchashire County Club and uses the Old Trafford Ground. A trial was given him in Lancashire"s Second Eleven and then in 1902 he played his first county match, appearing against Sussex at Brighton. Doing little in 1902 he was dropped out of the county team, but in the May of the following year he was re-introduced and from that time he has never looked back. Into the question of the foolish quarrel-happily made up last spring-which threatened to terminate his connection with Lancashire there is no need in this place to enter. He bowled last summer with unimpaired pace and fire and was indeed quite at the top of his form. Of nothing that he has done in the cricket field is he more proud than his success in repeatedly getting Victor Trumper out during the season of 1905. In that year he reached the summit of a cricketer"s ambition, being picked for England against Australia in the Test Matches at Old Trafford and the Oval. In December last his friends had the pleasure of congratulating him on his marriage.

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