CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1908

Reginald Schwarz

REGINALD O. SCHWARZ, though his fame as a cricketer has been won in connection with the South African eleven, is an Englishman, and lived in this country until he was over twenty-seven years of age. He was born at Lee, near Blackheath, on My 4th, 1875. After some early schooling at Quernmore he went to St.Paul"s where he was in the eleven for four years, being captain the last two. He then proceeded to Cambridge, but though he played in the Freshmen"s match in 1894, and the Seniors" match in 1895, he did not get his Blue. After a time, however, he found an opening in county cricket, playing first for Oxfordshire and afterwards for Middlesex. The slow bowling which has now made his name known all over the world was then unthought of, but he was already a good bat and for Middlesex in 1900 he made scores of 74 against Somerset and 71 against Gloucestershire. He was, however, more distinguished at Rugby football than at cricket, playing for Cambridge in 1893 and afterwards gaining his International cap for England as a half-back. His fame in the cricket field only dates from the tour of the South African team in England in 1904. He was picked chiefly for his batting and did not bowl in the first three matches. He had, however, studied Bosanquet"s method, and quite by accident, as he has himself stated, he discovered the way of holding the ball by which an off break can be bowled with to all appearance a leg break action. Put on for the first time at Oxford in the University"s second innings, he met with startling success, taking five wickets-all bowled down-at a cost of only 27 runs. Thenceforward he was one of the regular bowlers for the South Africans, his skill in imitating Bosanquet giving rise to a good deal of comment. He had quite a triumph when the South Africans beat a strong England Eleven at Lord"s, taking eight wickets and playing an innings of 102. He fairly puzzled Ranjitsinhji and got him out twice. When the tour came to an end he could point to a fine record, standing sixth in batting and heading the bowling with 65 wickets for a little over eighteen runs apiece. Against the M.C.C.'s team in South Africa during the winter of 1905-6 he added materially to his reputation, being a member of the side that won four Test Matches out of five against the Englishmen. In those Test games he did little as a batsman, but he took 18 wickets, dividing honours with S. J. Snooke, Faulkner, and Sinclair. Moreover, he had a big share in gaining a brilliant victory for the Transvaal, taking five wickets for thirty-four runs when the English eleven failed to get 176 in the last innings. What he did for the South Africans last summer will be fresh in everyone's memory. Bowling with extraordinary success all through the season he took 143 wickets at a cost of eleven and a half runs each, and was easily first in the averages. His methods as a bowler are so exhaustively described in Mr. R. E. Foster's article that there is no need here to go over the same ground. It is sufficient to note the fact that despite his leg break action he is now an off break bowler pure and simple. He has given up the leg break for fear of losing his command of pitch. His career is in one respect singularly interesting, there having been few cases of men suddenly becoming famous as bowlers after playing the game for years. As a rule bowlers show their best form quite early, but two notable exceptions may be recalled, viz: Mr. David Buchanan and Briggs. Mr. Buchanan was quite an ordinary bowler until he changed from fast to slow, and Briggs had been playing for about seven years when he won the England v. Australia match at Lord"s in 1886.

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