CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1907

Arthur Fielder

ARTHUR FIELDER, to whose fast bowling more than to anything else Kent owed the Championship, was born at Plaxtol, a village five miles from Tonbridge, on the 19th of July, 1878. As it was not until last season that he took a high position among the bowlers of the day, fame has come to him rather late. As a rule, fast bowlers reach their highest point at a much earlier age than eight and twenty. As a boy Fielder worked for Mr. Cecil Golding, a farmer and hop grower, his father being bailiff on the farm. He was engaged on the Tonbridge Ground from 1897 to 1900, and after a year a Canterbury went back for a couple of seasons before joining the M.C.C.'s Ground Staff at Lord's in 1904. It was not until 1903 that he found an opening in first-class cricket, taking the place that season of W. M. Bradley as the fast bowler of the Kent eleven. The dreadfully wet weather was all against a bowler of his type, but he got on very well, taking 61 wickets in county matches for just under eighteen and a half runs apiece. Such a good impression did he make that in the course of the summer he was given a place in the M.C.C.'s team for Australia, Mr. P. F. Warner, who captained the side, being one of those who urged his claims most strongly. Events proved that the experiment of taking him to the Colonies was premature. He met with some little success in the up county matches against local eighteens, but he only took part in four of the eleven first-class fixtures and one of the five Test Matches. He failed to justify his selection, but inasmuch as he only bowled 86 overs in the important games of the tour it cannot be said that he was given much chance. Still Mr. Warner did not lose faith in him, and expressed a confident opinion that his day would come. On his return to England Fielder had a good season for Kent in 1904, taking 84 wickets in county matches and at times doing excellent work. In 1905, however, he went back instead of forward and failed to retain a regular place in the Kent eleven. Out of twenty-two county matches he only took part in twelve and his 44 wickets cost him more than 32 runs each. At the end of the season there was a general feeling that he had missed his opportunity and that he would not fulfil his previous promise. His brilliant success last summer came therefore as a genuine surprise. Bowling in a form he had never approached before, he was undeniably first-rate. He began well and though an immense amount of work devolved upon him, he never looked back, being just as good in September as he had been in May. Unlike Knox, with whom he divided the honours of the season in fast bowling, he remained sound and strong all through the summer Indeed beyond a trifling injury to his foot nothing troubled him. He did splendid work for Kent, but his great triumph was gained at Lord's, when in the Gentlemen's first innings he took all ten wickets-an unprecedented feat in Gentlemen and Players matches. As a fast bowler Fielder is quite modern in his methods, keeping the ball for the most part well outside the off-stump. Occasionally he breaks back a little, but his special excellence lies in his power of making the ball swing away with his arm. Bowling in this style he of course depends a great deal on the quality of his slips, and he was fortunate last season in the Kent eleven in begin supported by brilliant fieldsmen. He has not Knox's electric speed, but he bowls at a fine pace and can keep it up all day without losing his accuracy of pitch. Considering how all-important his bowling is to Kent at the present time it is a fortunate circumstance that he has no ambition as a batsman. His business in the cricket field is to get wickets.

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