CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1907

Neville Knox

MR. NEVILLE A. KNOX has only been known to the general public for two seasons. It is true that he came out for Surrey in 1904, but he only played in one match, and though he got on fairly well, taking four wickets in a memorable game with Lancashire, his potential force as a fast bowler was not generally recognised. Still, when the Surrey committee gave him that first trial, which was to have such wonderful results for the county, he had already served a long apprenticeship to cricket. Born on the 10th of October, 1884, he was in the Dulwich College eleven before he was sixteen, and stood second in batting and first in bowling in the season of 1900. As a bowler he was not called upon to do much, but he took ten wickets in 33 overs, and gave clear indication of what was to come. For the next three years he was the mainstay of the Dulwich team, taking 53 wickets in 1901, 37 wickets in 1902, and 47 wickets in 1903. Moreover, in this last year, when his school career came to an end, he was easily first in batting, scoring 373 runs with an average of 33. As no one who follows cricket at all closely will need to be told, he is, like Charles Townsend, a left-handed bat and right-handed bowler. Probably most of those who saw him play against Lancashire in 1904, thought he was an ordinary school bowler. Some batsmen, however, among them I believe Mr. Leveson-Gower, who had played against him, realized his possibilities. There was great wisdom in not pushing him forward in county cricket at a time when the strain of serious matches would probably have been to much for his strength. In 1905 he jumped into the from rank, and had a big share in winning back for Surrey, after a year of extreme depression, a high position among the counties. In championship matches alone he took 105 wickets, and in all Surrey matches 121 wickets, his average being a little over twenty. No doubt could be felt as to his class, and good judges did not hesitate to describe him as the most promising fast bowler in England. With his tremendous pace he combined an undeniable off-break, and the only fear for his future was that, finding it necessary to take a very long run, he might not be able to stand the severe work involved in modern cricket. Last season, as everyone knows, he was, when reasonably fit and well, the fast bowler of the year. He did great things, and if he had remained sound, it is only reasonable to conclude that he would have had a record unapproached since Richardson was at his best. As it was he had to get through the season under grave disadvantages. A strain interfered with his cricket for a little time before the end of June, and for the rest of the summer he had to struggle against chronic lameness, an acute form of shin-soreness, due probably to the hard ground, stopping him again and again. He often played when he ought to have been resting, and only sheer pluck and resolution enabled him to get through the work he did. His great triumph came in the Gentlemen and Players match at Lord's, when he took twelve wickets, and fairly won the game for his side. More deadly fast bowling than his in that particular match has not been seen for the Gentlemen in our time. So tremendous was his pace, so much did he break back, and so uncomfortably high did he make even good length balls get up, that scarcely any of the professionals except Hayward, Hayes, and Lees played him with real confidence. What the future may have in store for him it is, of course, impossible to say, but judging him by his best form there should be no limit to his success if only he can manage to keep sound. Loose limbed and standing well over six feet, he has every physical advantage. No doubt his long and peculiar run, which starts from somewhere in the neighbourhood of sharp mid-off, makes his bowling difficult to follow in the flight.

© John Wisden & Co