Johnny Briggs was born at Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, on October 3, 1862. He played in the Colt's match at Old Trafford, in 1879, and appeared for Lancashire that year. He bowls left-hand, and bats right, being in this respect like his colleague, Barlow. For several seasons Briggs was known as a very useful batsman, and a wonderful field at cover point; in fact since Mr. Royle gave up important cricket there has been no fieldsman equal in celebrity to the popular young Lancastrian. Though he was a useful county bowler his immense ability was not known until the England v. Australia match at Lord's in 1886, when he was put on as first change, and took five wickets for 29 runs. Australia had to follow on, and in their second innings Briggs was again successful and altogether in the match he took eleven wickets for 74 runs. From that day down to the present he has been justly regarded as one of the most able and destructive bowlers in the country, and it will be seen that he has the honour of coming out with the best average of the six representative men whose portraits we give.
It is curious, as showing how fashions and methods of attack change in cricket, that not more than one of these six bowlers can be called slow, and only one of them, Woods, can be properly described as fast. This rest vary between slow, medium, and fast, and their ability is shown in nothing else so much as in the way they mix up the pace. This is a change indeed from the condition of things ten years ago before Australian influence was felt, when nearly all the bowlers were emphatically slow, and the rest as uniformly fast.
© John Wisden & Co