CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1904

Charles Blythe

Charles Blythe has won for himself during the last four seasons a high place among English bowlers, and in 1903-helped it must be confessed by the wet weather-he was more successful than ever, taking in first-class matches 142 wickets for less than fourteen runs each. He played exclusively for Kent and outside purely county matches only took part in two fixtures. Being left-handed and distinctly a slow bowler he holds the same position in the Kent eleven to-day that was filled in the '80's by James Wootton. Born on the 30th of May, 1879, he played first for Kent when he was twenty years of age, and without making any immediate sensation, did well enough to show that a good deal might be hoped of him. In 1900 he took a big jump to the front, heading the Kent bowling averages with a record of 114 wickets in county matches. In 1901, after a bad illness in the winter, he fell off considerably, but nevertheless, MacLaren, when he could not get Rhodes, selected him to go to Australia. During his trip to the Colonies Blythe was a good deal handicapped by an injury to one of the fingers of his bowling hand, and it cannot be said that he proved more than a qualified success. Still he did not excellent work in the first of the five test matches, the one in which MacLaren's team caused such a sensation by beating Australia in a single innings. This victory, as everyone knows, was wiped out by four defeats, but in every one of those four games the Englishmen at a certain point had the best of the position. Probably a winter in the Colonies did Blythe good, for in 1902 he was in capital form with the ball, taking 111 wickets for Kent in county fixtures and coming out second to Mason in the averages, He is a slow bowler of varied gifts, and though of course, like all bowlers of his class, seen to much the best advantage on wickets damaged by rain, he is often effective on a dry pitch. When the ground is favourable to run getting he depends a good deal upon the ball that goes with his arm, and this he naturally bowls with special success at Canterbury and Maidstone where he has a slope to help him. On slow wickets he breaks back very quickly, and is in Ranjitsinhji's opinion more difficult to play than Rhodes, the lower flight of the ball making it a hard matter to go out and drive him. Bowling, with a very easy action he can, despite the slightness of his physique, get through a good amount of work without tiring. As he is still under twenty-five the best of him may not have been seen, but even if he should only remain at his present standard of excellence he ought with ordinary luck to be a most valuable member of the Kent eleven for ten years to come. So far he is a bowler pure and simple, his batting counting for little or nothing.

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