CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1906

Joseph Vine

JOSEPH VINE. - Among the professionals of the present day there are few keener cricketers than Joseph Vine. He plays the game with an evident sense of enjoyment, and it has been truly said that no day is too long for him. At six o"clock in the afternoon on a broiling July day at Brighton he chases the ball in the long-field with an energy that seems to defy fatigue. His was no rapid rise to fame, and it was not until 1900, after some tentative appearances in the three previous seasons, that he earned a regular place in the Sussex eleven. Since then however, he has been indispensable. He is essentially a county cricketer, nearly all his work having been done for Sussex, but if, in addition to his batting and fielding, he had managed to retain his skill as a leg-break bowler it is quite likely that he would before this have played for England. Unhappily, like C. L. Townsend, R. C. Ramsay, and other men one could name who for a time did great things with leg-breaks, Vine soon lost his peculiar gift, knack, or whatever it may be called. In 1901 he showed extraordinary promise, and among other good performances took sixteen wickets at Nottingham-eight in each innings-for 161 runs. The match was a memorable one as Sussex had not previously beaten Notts. at Trent Bridge for over forty years. Vine"s peculiarity that season was that he was quicker both in the flight and off the pitch than any leg-break bowler of this generation. However, his form suddenly left him. He had one flash of greatness in 1902, taking seven wickets for 31 runs against the Australians, at Hastings, and almost bringing about a victory for the South of England, but in the Sussex matches he was ineffective, and woefully expensive. Since then his reputation has rested on his batting and fielding. Already a dependable player, he made a great advance as a batsman in 1904 and during last season he was better than he had ever been before, scoring for Sussex in county matches alone over sixteen hundred runs. Good as his position is he would probably have been thought still more of if he had belonged to another county. A batsman would need to be great indeed to play on the same side as Ranjitsinhji and Fry, and not be overshadowed. His success as a batsman has been largely gained in a series of first-wicket partnerships with Fry, and though he may at times carry caution a little too far and keep an undue check on his hitting powers, the result is nearly always so satisfactory that it would be sheer hypercriticism to find fault with him. As an outfield Vine has not the wonderful pick-up of Denton, but in every other respect he is in the highest class, and in the course of a season perhaps no one saves a larger number of runs. Vine was born on May 15, 1875.

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