CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1906

Walter Lees

WALTER LEES - One of the many Yorkshire cricketers who have won a reputation outside their own county, Lees was born on the 25th December, 1876, and is thus still on the right side of thirty. To him the season of 1905 was indeed a memorable one as from being a good bowler, but nothing more, he took a sudden jump to the top of the tree. Not often has a bowler after being several years before the public made a more remarkable advance. So fine and consistent was his work all through the summer that he could regard himself as very unlucky in not playing for England in the Test Matches. He was one of the players from whom the team for the first game at Nottingham had to be picked, but on the morning of the match it was his ill-fortune to have to stand down, and as events turned out he never had another chance. That on his form his claims were very strong there can be no question, and it must more than once have been a nice point between him and Arnold. However, by reason perhaps of his superior batting, Arnold, even at the Oval, was given the preference. Still though he missed the most coveted distinction that can be earned in the cricket field, Lees was undoubtedly one of the very best bowlers in 1905. He was in form at the beginning of May and except for a match or two, when a damaged foot troubled him, he never looked back, taking wickets week after week, and showing little sign of the immense amount of work he got through. To him more than anyone else Surrey owed their recovery from the depression and disasters of the previous season. On the fast side of medium pace, Lees as a bowler has a variety of good qualities. With a good natural action that seems part of himself, he commands on all sorts of wickets sufficient break to beat the bat, but it is perhaps some peculiarity in the flight of the ball rather than his break that make him so difficult. Anyway even the greatest batsmen found him hard to play last summer. In first-class matches he took 193 wickets for just over 18 runs apiece-a splendid record in these days of heavy scores although the average itself would have seemed modest enough years ago. It is likely enough that Lees was in reality nearly as good a bowler in 1904 as he was last season, but he did not have anything like the same support in the Surrey team, and he could not by himself win matches. Still, for a side that suffered thirteen defeats, he took 114 wickets for less than 25 runs each. In his early days for Surrey-he first played for the county in 1896-he showed great promise as a batsman, and he is still a good hitter, quite likely to get thirty or so at any time off any bowling. At the present stage of his career, however, it would be a misfortune if he made many runs. His bowling would probably suffer, and as a bowler he is now invaluable.

© John Wisden & Co