CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1902

Len Braund

L. C. BRAUND, formerly of Surrey, and now playing for Somerset under the residential qualification, was born in 1876, and was first tried for Surrey when twenty years of age. His early efforts in first-class cricket were not rewarded with much success, but in the season of 1898 he did so well and showed so much promise that his position in the Surrey eleven seemed assured. For some reason, however, he left the Oval and proceeded to qualify for Somerset. No great notice was taken of the circumstance at the time, but subsequent events have proved that Surrey lost a first-rate man, and one who would at the present time, by reason of his all-round skill, have been simply invaluable to them. While qualifying for his new county, Braund gained some excellent experience at the Crystal Palace, and made the most of his opportunities, profiting immensely by playing under the eye of Mr. W. G. Grace. He did not play for the London County Club in 1899, but he had a place in Mr. Grace's eleven against the Australians at the Crystal Palace, and scored 125, this being his first hundred in a big match. He had previously batted very finely against the Australians, on a difficult wicket, at Truro, and, being allowed by courtesy to assist Somerset against the Colonial team in August, he added greatly to his reputation with an innings of 82. Altogether he scored 270 in five innings against the Australians, and in this way fairly established his reputation as a batsman. In bowling, however, he did little or nothing, only taking one wicket at a cost of 133 runs. He hoped to be regularly in the Somerset eleven from the beginning of June, 1900, but after he had played against Middlesex, at Lord"s, in the Whit-Monday match, in which, by the way, he scored 38 and 1, and took a couple of wickets, the M.C.C. ruled that his qualification had not been properly completed, and he had to wait another year before getting his change in Somerset cricket. A good deal of the time in which he might otherwise have been idle was turned to excellent account for London County, his records coming out at 482 runs with and average of 25, and 47 wickets for something under 24 runs each. Last season marked and enormous advance in his career. He showed splendid form all round for Somerset-playing a great part in the memorable victory over Yorkshire, at Leeds-and not only had the distinction of being picked for Players and Gentlemen at Lord"s, but did a good deal towards winning the match. In getting rid of C. B. Fry in the Gentlemen"s first innings, he made one of the catches of the season, and at the finish he bowled his leg-breaks with marked effect, so puzzling R. E. Foster that, for the moment, that great batsman looked like a novice. As a reward for all his good cricket, he was asked by Mr. MacLaren to go to Australia, and within a few days of these lines being written he had a big share in winning for the Englishmen the first test match at Sydney. A fine bat on all sorts of wickets, a beautiful field in the slips, and one of the very best of the new leg-break bowlers, Braund is a cricketer who ought in the next few years to do great things.

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