CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1908

Thomas Wass

THOMAS WASS, whose bowling, in conjunction with that of Hallam, did so much to win the Championship for Notts in 1907, was born in the 26th of December, 1873, at Sutton-in-Ashfield, once the most productive nursery for Nottingham cricketers. He remembers playing cricket in a small way from almost his earliest years. At eighteen he was a regular member of the Sutton Club and quickly earned a reputation as a fast bowler. Securing an engagement with the Edinburgh Academy Club he stayed in Scotland for a year and afterwards joined the ground staff of the Liverpool Cricket Club at Aigburth. While at Liverpool he did not have much match play, but he was occasionally seen in Lancashire League Cricket, assisting Rishton and Nelson among other Clubs. It is on record that in one match for Nelson against Church, when deputising for Willis Cuttell, he took eight wickets for seven runs. Remaining in Liverpool for two years he was qualified by residence for Lancashire and was offered a position on the ground staff at Old Trafford. However, he accepted an invitation to play for his native county against the M. C. C. at Lord"s, and returning to Nottingham was one of the first band of professionals engaged at Trent Bridge when the Notts Club and Ground scheme was started. He appeared in the Notts Colts match at Easter, 1896, and although he only took two wickets he was at once picked out by William Gunn and other members of the eleven as a promising fast bowler. It is interesting to recall the fact that John Gunn and Oates played for the Colts in the same game. Wass was not tried in any of the county matches in 1896, but he played once in the following year. His career really began in 1898, when in a dozen matches he took 31 wickets at a cost of something over thirty-one runs apiece. A year later he improved his position, sharing the bulk of the Notts bowling with John Gunn and Attewell and taking 45 wickets. Then in 1900 he suddenly jumped to the front, 100 wickets falling to him in 17 county matches for just over nineteen runs each. He had a set back in the next season, proving very expensive and only obtaining 49 wickets, but in 1902 he bowled far better than ever before, heading the Notts averages with the splendid record of 138 wickets for something over fifteen runs each. Thanks to his efforts and the exceptionally good batting of the team, Notts went up to third place, only Yorkshire and Surrey being above them. He lost his form in the following year, and in 1905 he was kept out of the eleven for over six weeks by an injured finger. In 1906 he was handicapped by a strained side and had to stand out of four matches, but he bowled very well, taking 90 wickets and dividing honours with Hallam and John Gunn. Last season he reached a higher point than ever, taking the fullest advantage of the soft wickets. Wass is quite an individual bowler and is far more deadly on slow wickets than anyone of his pace whose name can be recalled. His special excellence lies in his quick break from the leg side. Whether this break be a natural gift or an acquired art it often makes him practically unplayable when the ground helps him. He is not in proportion half so good on fast wickets but, as the South Africans found out last August, he can on occasions do first rate work on a firm pitch. Like J. C. Shaw and Fred Morley before him, Wass in not much more than a bowler pure and simple. Though he can hit hard he has no pretentions to be a batsman and when an easy catch goes to him the batsman has a feeling of hopefulness until he sees that the ball has been safely held.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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