JOHN MCCARTHY BLACKHAM,
born in Australia on May 11, 1855 does not need any very lengthy notice, his name being a household word with all who take any interest in the game of cricket. By general consent-and speaking for ourselves we entirely agree with the popular verdict-he is the greatest wicket-keeper the world has yet seen. In connection with cricket in Victoria, he had obtained a first-class position before he was seen in England, but of course his world-wide reputation dates from the appearance on English cricket grounds of the first Australian team in the season of 1878. So fine was the form he showed in that year when keeping to the bowling of Spofforth, Garrett, Boyle and Frank Allan, that by all English experts his pre-eminent ability was at once admitted, no one being found to question his greatness. Since that first trip Blackham has been a frequent visitor to this country, it being indeed his unique distinction to have been a member of every team that has visited us from the Australian Colonies. During one or two of the later tours he fell a little below his best standard, as it was quite natural he should have done after so many years of hard work; but the season of 1890 found him, in his thirty-sixth year, in unimpaired possession of his powers. No one, to our thinking, has ever taken the ball quite so close to the wicket as Blackham, and, as is well known, he was one of the first wicket-keepers who regularly dispensed with a long stop to fast bowling. In his own style Blackham is a remarkable batsman, and many have been the occasions during his various tours in this country on which he has made runs at a pinch, after more orthodox players have failed. Moreover, if he had not been a great wicket-keeper, he could certainly have established a reputation for his fielding at mid-off.
© John Wisden & Co