CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1900

Clement Hill

CLEMENT HILL was born on the 28th of March, 1877, and reached his present position among the great batsmen of the world at as early an age as almost any of our English players. His name first came prominently before the English public during the tour in the Colonies in the winter of 1894-95 of Mr. Stoddart's first team. In the closing match of that memorable trip, Hill, being then a lad of just eighteen, caused a genuine sensation by scoring for South Australia 150 not out and 56. This performance gave him an established position, and he has never looked back, each succeeding year having added to his reputation till at the present time he stands, at any rate on hard wickets, scarcely second as a batsman to anyone except Ranjitsinhji. As everybody knows he paid his first visit to England with Harry Trott's team in 1896, and though curiously unsuccessful in the three Test matches-scoring indeed only thirty runs in half-a-dozen innings-he did great things in many of the less important fixtures and was one of the mainstays of the famous eleven. With an aggregate of 1,196 runs and an average of 27, he came out third among the batsmen in all matches, only Gregory and Darling being in front of him. It was felt by all competent judges in England that he was quite worthy of his reputation, and that if he kept up the game he would have a great future. Still, high as was the estimate formed of him, English cricketers were scarcely prepared for the extraordinary form he showed against Mr. Stoddart's second team in the Australian season of 1897-98. In eleven-a-side matches against the Englishmen he scored 829 runs in twelve innings-once not out-and thus averages 75, his record being appreciably better than that of either Ranjitsinhji or MacLaren for Stoddart's side. He made 200 for South Australia in the first match of the tour, but an incomparably finer innings was his 188 at Melbourne in the fourth of the five Test matches. Going in first the Australians lost six wickets for 57 runs, but thanks to Hill they finished up their innings for 323, and in the end won the match by eight wickets. This innings of 188 is constantly described by those who saw it as the best Hill has ever played. What the young batsman did last summer up to the time that illness cut short his career will be found fully set forth in another section of Wisden's Almanack. So long as he remained in good health he was beyond question the best bat in Darling's team. Of his special characteristics as a batsman it is not necessary to say very much, his style being now so familiar to all followers of the game in this country. No left-handed player has ever depended so much upon skill and so little upon mere punishing power in front of the wicket. Of course he can drive an over-pitched ball when he is so disposed, but for most of his runs he relies upon his wonderful facility in scoring on the leg side. The way in which on a hard wicket he can turn straight balls to leg must be seen to be believed. Of course he runs great risks and is constantly in danger of being out leg-before-wicket, but, as a well-known English player said of him last season, his bat is always in the right place at the right moment. Next to his play on the leg-side the strength of his game, so far as run-getting is concerned, lies in his cutting, which is as safe as it is brilliant. Add to all these qualities of an aggressive kind the fact that he has an almost impregnable defence and a patience that nothing can exhaust, and it is easy to understand the place in the cricket world to which he has attained.

© John Wisden & Co