CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1908

Albert W Hallam

ALBERT W. HALLAM was born at East Leake, in Nottinghamshire, on November 12th, 1872, and spent his boyhood in his native village. His opportunities were limited, but he played such cricket as he could. When he was fourteen his family removed to Loughborough, and he entered the employment of the Nottingham Manufacturing Company for whose club he soon became a regular player. His skill as a bowler was so pronounced that he was given a trial for the Leicestershire Club and Ground, and on one occasion in his eighteenth year, being qualified by residence, he played for Leicestershire-they then ranked as a second class county-against Yorkshire. Looking back on that match he remembers that he bowled Mr. Arthur Sellars first ball. On the recommendation of Pougher he was engaged on the ground staff at the Oval in 1892, but he did not get much chance, and in the following year he went to Old Trafford with the intention of qualifying for Lancashire. In his two qualifying years he took for the Manchester Club 244 wickets at a cost of ten runs each, and in 1895 he became a member of the Lancashire Eleven. His connection with Lancashire lasted over six years but he was only a regular member of the eleven for three seasons, his health at one time being very unsatisfactory. By far his best work was done in 1897 when he took 90 wickets. In 1901 he began to play for his native county and with the Notts Eleven he has been associated ever since. In his first season he did not have a very flattering average, his 64 wickets costing 25 runs apiece, but luck always seemed against him. He had a great day, however, in the August Bank Holiday match against Surrey at the Oval, taking eight wickets in Surrey"s second innings and thereby helping his side to gain an easy victory. It was the first year since 1892 that Notts had beaten Surrey both at Trent Bridge and the Oval. For the next four seasons Hallam bowled very steadily without making any great mark, and it was not until 1906 that he fully asserted himself. In that year, being then nearly thirty-four, he at last secured an acknowledged position as one of the best medium pace bowlers in England. Taking 91 wickets he headed the Notts averages, being a fraction ahead of Wass. In a stubbornly-fought match against Middlesex at Lord"s, he did up to that time the best thing in his career. The pitch was in perfect condition, and Middlesex, though set to make 399 in the last innings, only lost the game by 52 runs. Hallam fairly pulled Notts through, bowling 58 overs, 21 maidens, for 96 runs and five wickets. On the slow wickets of last summer he was by general consent, taking one day with another, the best of English bowlers. Far surpassing all his previous doings he bowled with consistent success in match after match and, except twice at the Oval, scarcely knew what it was to be mastered. Like his predecessors in the Notts eleven, Alfred Shaw and Attewell, Hallam places his chief reliance on accuracy of pitch. When the ground helps him he can make the ball turn either way but there is nothing startling about his break. Bowling with a very easy delivery he can keep up an end for hours without getting in the least degree short. Except as regards exactness of length he is not a bowler who looks very difficult from the ring, but the batsmen who have obtained big scores against him, among them P. F. Warner, say that he always makes them play their best. He has so many devices and keeps the ball so well on the right spot that even the most daring hitters generally have to treat him with respect. He ought no doubt to have taken part in the Test Matches against the South Africans, but he was only asked to play at the Oval and that invitation he declined as he was suffering from a badly bruised hand. Hallam does not pretend to be a batsman, but he played an invaluable innings against Surrey at the Oval last August.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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