CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1905

Ernest Halliwell

MR. ERNEST AUSTIN HALLIWELL.-Though the famous wicket-keeper made his name in South Africa, and has, so far as big matches are concerned, been associated almost exclusively with South African cricket, he is an Englishman by birth. A son of the late Mr. R. Bissett Halliwell, who kept wicket for Middlesex in the old days at the Cattle Market ground at Islington, he was born at Ealing on the 7th of September, 1864. His is a clear case of hereditary talent, and, though with the vast improvement in grounds it is difficult and scarcely fair to compare the wicket-keepers of the present day with those of a generation back, it is probable that he is far better behind the stumps than ever his father was. This is saying a good deal, as Mr. Bissett Halliwell used to stand up to George Howitt's bowling at Islington, and appeared with success for the Gentlemen of England both at Lord's and the Oval. Though he played cricket as a boy, Ernest Halliwell attained to no prominence, and indeed played in no matches of importance before he went out to the Cape. His reputation only dates from 1894, when he returned to this country as a member of the first South African Eleven. The team did not attract any great amount off attention, but as to Halliwell's class as a wicket-keeper there was only one opinion. It was agreed by all good judges that he ranked with the very best men of the day. Ten year ago the fashion of standing back to fast bowling had not become anything like so general as it is to-day, and, in following the old plan, Halliwell had to bear comparison with Blackham-who had a twelvemonth before paid the last of his many visits to England- MacGregor, and the late Richard Pilling. The fact that he was classed with these masters furnished conclusive evidence of his exceptional skill. When he came here again in 1901 with the second team from South Africa he was found to be even better than before, and several English cricketers went so far as to describe him as the best wicket-keeper in the world. In the meantime the custom of going back to bowling of any great speed had spread in all directions, and the way in which Halliwell stood up to Kotze was much commented on. It was very fine but it did not astonish those who had seen Pilling, George Pinder, and Tom Plumb in their prime. When the South African matches were over in 1901, Halliwell, having a birth qualification, made one appearance for Middlesex at Lord's, and was seen at quite his best. Coming here for his third tour last summer, Halliwell for a match or two stood up to Kotze, but after that he fell in with the prevailing fashion and went back. Still he is by no means convinced that the new method is better than the old one. On the matting wickets of South Africa on which the ball comes along at much the same height all through the day, he still thinks it best to stand up to all bowling, no matter how fast it may be, but on English wickets he now inclines to the opinion that the plan of going back results in a greater number of catches. Alive to every point of the game, he startled one batsman, who was stepping over his crease to play Kotze, by quietly creeping up and stumping him. Some of the South African critics thought before the last team left the Cape that Halliwell was a veteran who had had his day, but there was little in his doings to support this idea. For the most part he was just as brilliant and resourceful as in 1901. As a batsman he is more than useful often getting runs when they are most needed.

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