CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1898

Willis Cuttell

WILLIS R. CUTTELL, who so suddenly sprang into fame as a bowler during last season, taking over a hundred wickets for Lancashire in county matches alone, is a native of Sheffield where he was born on the 13th September, 1864. His father-also named Willis-played occasionally for Yorkshire in the sixties and died on the 10th of June, 1896, being then in his 62nd year. The present player hoped at one time to secure a place in the Yorkshire eleven, but the form he showed in a couple of matches during the season of 1890 did not greatly impress the committee, and so far as we know, he was never asked to play again. At the time he was tried for Yorkshire he was professional to the Accrington Club, and it was his play for that team which brought him under notice. Leaving Accrington he joined the Nelson Club-one of the most prominent organisations in the Lancashire League-and quickly established a great local reputation as a bowler. He took 118 wickets for the club in 1892; 104 wickets in 1893; 106 in 1895, and 95 in 1896. In all four seasons he had a splendid average, his best figures being obtained in 1895, when his wickets only cost about 8½ runs each. His fine bowling for the Nelson Club naturally attracted the notice of the Lancashire committee and at the commencement of the season of 1896 he was chosen to play for the county. It must be confessed, however, that he was tried in rather a half-hearted way, as after a couple of matches-against Yorkshire at Old Trafford and the M.C.C. at Lord's-he was dropped for the rest of the year. Last season, however, the committee gave him another opportunity, and he soon began to assert himself. At first success was nothing very startling, but good judges of the game, who in May at Trent Bridge saw him beat Arthur Shrewsbury twice in half-an-hour on a hard wicket, spoke very hopefully about his prospects. As the season went on he did better and better, and in August it was generally admitted that he was one of the best medium pace bowlers in the country. In county matches for Lancashire he took 102 wickets at a cost of something over 17 runs each and in the first-class figures for the year his record was 120 wickets with an average of 16.54. Bowling medium-pace over the wicket, Cuttell combines an exceptionally good pitch with plenty of spin. He has a capital delivery and is especially clever in bowling the leg-break. This he manages with no very apparent change of action, and he does not, like the majority of leg-twist bowlers, have to toss the ball high in the air. Apart from his bowling Cuttell is a plucky hard hitting batsman and in the field he can stop anything. It is a pity both for his own sake and that of county cricket, that he should have been late in coming to the front, but if he can go on bowling for the next few seasons as he bowled in 1897 a great deal more will be heard of him.

© John Wisden & Co