CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1899

William Storer

WILLIAM STORER, certainly the greatest cricketer who has ever appeared for Derbyshire, was born on the 26th of January, 1868. Though he had been assisting Derbyshire for several seasons it was not perhaps until 1893 that his remarkable qualities as a wicket-keeper were recognised by the general body of the cricket public. He was chosen to keep wicket at Lord's that season for the M. C. C. in their return match with the Australians and so brilliantly did he acquit himself that his position in the front rank was thenceforward assured. In the course of the match he caught four batsmen and stumped another and what is more, he did not in the Australians' second innings, with Mr. Kortright bowling his fastest, give away a single bye. He came forward at just the right time, as in 1893 there was a splendid opening for a professional wicket-keeper of really first-rate powers. Pilling had been dead for two years; Sherwin was nearing the close of his long career; and Lilley, though acknowledged to be extremely good, had not yet fully asserted himself. Storer had not in 1893 developed his batting to anything like the standard since reached, but even then he was a dependable run getter, his season's work for Derbyshire resulting in an aggregate of 550 runs with an average of nearly 24. So great an impression did his wicket-keeping at Lord's produce that he secured a place in the England Eleven against the Australians in Shrewsbury's benefit match at Trent Bridge; in the North of England Eleven against the Australians at Old Trafford; and the Players' team against the Gentlemen at the Oval. He was unlucky at the Oval in having one of his fingers badly hurt. From 1893 to the present time Storer as a player has never looked back though some little unpleasantnesses-for which he was not free from blame-probably deprived him of the distinction of playing for England against Australia in 1896. During three seasons he had steadily improved in batting, but for the immense advance he made in 1896 no one was quite prepared. In the first class averages for the season he came out eighth on the list scoring 1313 runs with the splendid average of 42, while for Derbyshire he had a wonderful record averaging 57 with an aggregate of 1091 runs. In three successive matches for the county he played four innings of over a hundred, scoring 100 and not out 100 against Yorkshire at Derby; 142, not out, against Leicestershire at Leicester; and 16 and 122 in the return match with Yorkshire at Sheffield. All these scores were obtained within ten days-between the 25th of June and the 4th of July. As everyone knows Storer was a member of Mr. Stoddart's team in Australia in the winter of 1897-98. He did not perhaps in the Colonies quite fulfil expectations as a wicket-keeper, but he was one of the most trustworthy bats on the side, playing particularly well in the early matches. Last season he was chosen by the M. C. C. committee on his batting alone for the Players against the Gentlemen at Lord's- Lilley being the wicket-keeper-and with scores of 59 and 73 he more than justified his selection. Possibly as the result of having had his hands rather badly damaged from time to time, Storer seems more interested just now in batting than wicket-keeping, but he can still do brilliant things behind the stumps. At his best as a wicket-keeper to fast bowling he was not unworthy of comparison with Pinder and Pilling. As a batsman he does not boast any special beauty of style, but he has immense resources. He is very strong in defence and when in a hitting mood can pull with astonishing certainty. Over and above his batting and wicket-keeping, Storer can bowl slow leg breaks with no small amount of skill, and taking him altogether he may without exaggeration be described as a great player-good enough for any eleven in the world.

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