CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1902

Charles McGahey

MR. CHARLES MCGAHEY born on February 12, 1871. Unlike his colleague in the Essex eleven, Mr. Percy Perrin, with whom one always associates him, McGahey did not jump into county cricket a finished player, good enough for any company. When in 1893 he was first given a trial for Essex he was just a rough natural hitter, with nearly everything of the science of batting to learn. The material was there, but it obviously needed a good deal of shaping and polishing. His early appearances were not marked by any striking success, and it was not till his third season that he really began to develop as a batsman. In that year, however- 1895-he did very well, averaging 26 for Essex, with an aggregate of 677 runs in fifteen matches, and since then his career has been one of steady and almost uninterrupted progress. Without any big score to help him, he improved in 1896, and from that time forward he has, as all cricketers are aware, been one of the mainstays of the Essex eleven. No one has profited more from the professional coaching which has at the beginning of every season for several years past been placed, through Mr. C. E. Green"s generosity, at the command of the Essex players, and each succeeding year has found him in an increased degree master of his craft. At one time there was a fear that bad health would put a stop to his career in the cricket field, indications of lung disease causing him anxiety, but a trip to Australia during the winter of 1897-98 did him a lot of good, and since then he has been strong and quite capable of bearing the fatigue of county cricket-no light matter in these days of almost incessant play from the beginning of May to the end of August. Even now McGahey is not quite so straight and fine a player as Perrin, but while falling a little short of the front rank of batsmen, he is a most valuable man on a side, and consistently heavy run-getter. By nature he is essentially a hitter, but of late years he has gained very largely in defence. Sometimes, indeed, he is inclined to carry caution a little too far, doing less than justice to his punishing powers. In 1901 he was more successful than in any previous year, but his exceptionally heavy scoring was perhaps due to the exaggerated excellence of the wickets at Leyton rather than to any sudden improvement in his batting. Still, he had a great year, and for several weeks was right at the top of the first-class averages. In defence, he is a forward rather than a back player, and as regards hitting, he is a splendid driver on both sides of the wicket, and is very skillful in scoring from a short ball on the leg side. Cutting is not by any means a prominent feature of his game. During the last six seasons he has played many big innings for Essex, but, having regard to the position of the match, one particular display stands out above all the rest. In the Essex v. Lancashire match at the Old Trafford in July, 1898, Essex had to get 336 in the last innings, and yet won by four wickets. Considering the strength of Lancashire"s bowling, and the fact that the highest of the three previous totals was 254, the victory was one of the most remarkable that the history of county cricket can show. McGahey played a magnificent innings of 145, his partnership with Perrin of 191 runs for the third wicket deciding the result of a never-to-be-forgotten game. Last season McGahey added much to his value as an all-round cricketer by suddenly developing considerable skill as a slow bowler of the now fashionable leg-break school, and on several occasions, notably against Notts at Leyton in August, he met with great success Not aiming at too big a break, he kept a better length than most bowlers of the same style. Before the season was over he was offered a place by MacLaren in the team for Australia, and while pages of Wisden were going through the Press, he played a prominent part in beating Victoria at Melbourne.

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