CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1906

George Joseph Thompson

GEORGE JOSEPH THOMPSON stands in an almost unique position among the professional cricketers of the present day, inasmuch as he has brought a new county to the front. But for his bowling it is quite safe to say that Northamptonshire would not in 1905 have been given a place among the first-class teams. Whether or not the promotion was premature is a question that need not now be discussed. The essential fact for the moment is that Thompson, to a greater extent than all the other members of the eleven put together, rendered the promotion possible. He appeared first for Northamptonshire in 1895, at which time the county occupied such a modest position that it did not even take part in the Minor Counties' Competition just then instituted. However, in the following season sufficient fixtures were secured, and Thompson at once made his presence felt. Year after year he proved himself the best man on the side, but despite all his fine cricket it was not until 1902 that Northamptonshire made any great mark. Then came such a run of success that at the meeting of county secretaries at Lord's in December, 1904, admission to first-class cricket was obtained. During the long period of probation for the county, two of Thompson's best seasons as an all-round man were 1901 and 1902. In each of these years he took a hundred wickets, and had a batting average of 36. A little earlier he gained distinction in a higher grade of cricket, scoring 125 in the Gentlemen and Players'match at the Scarborough Festival in 1900. Such was the impression made by his cricket for Northamptonshire that at the end of the season of 1902, he was picked, in company with Hargreave of Warwickshire, to go to New Zealand with the team got together by Lord Hawke and captained by Mr. P. F. Warner. The team had quite a triumphal march through New Zealand, playing 18 matches and winning them all. Thompson had a greater share than anyone else in the success, taking 177 wickets for six and a half runs each. The trip ended with three matches in Australia-against Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia. Fortune then deserted the Englishmen, who lost two of the matches and drew the other, but Thompson was again the most effective bowler. He also enjoyed great success with Lord Brackley's team in the West Indies in the winter of 1904-5. During last summer Thompson found himself quite at home in Northamptonshire's altered surroundings, and it was no fault of his that the side only won two matches. He bowled quite as well as ever, and took 75 wickets with a capital average. Moreover he distinguished himself in the Gentlemen and Players' match at the Oval, bowling very finely indeed in the last innings. As a bowler Thompson is right-handed and well above medium pace. He has great accuracy of pitch, and the ball, always pull of life and spin, gets up in a very nasty way when the ground gives him the least assistance. One could imagine him being unplayable on the crumbling wickets with which bowlers of the last generation were often favoured. Thompson's batting is not of the same class as his bowling, but he is a most useful run-getter, with a fair defence and no lack of hitting. Born on the 27th of October, 1877, he is happy young enough to have a lot of cricket before him.

© John Wisden & Co