CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1899

Wilfred Rhodes

Wilfred Rhodes's appearance for Yorkshire last season illustrated in a most striking way the truth of the proverb that the hour brings forth the man. Robert Peel's long and honourable connection with Yorkshire having terminated under rather painful circumstances in 1897, the county's one pressing need was a left-handed slow bowler to take his place, and in young Rhodes exactly the bowler required was forthcoming. Whatever he may do in the future, there can be no doubt as to the greatness of his achievements last summer. Quite unknown at the beginning of May outside the limits of local cricket in Yorkshire, he sprang at once into fame, bowling in match after match for Yorkshire with astounding success. His sudden rise to the front rank recalled the doings of Mr. A. G. Steel in 1878, there being a close parallel between the performances of the two bowlers. In one respect, however, Rhodes's record was the more remarkable, for whereas he was an unknown quantity, Mr. Steel before appearing in first-class matches had earned for himself a reputation at Marlborough as a first-rate school bowler. It may without unfairness be said that Rhodes was fortunate in coming out when bad weather was day after day making the wickets slow and difficult, but one must not on this account do him less than justice. He made the fullest use of his opportunities and even if his gifts as a bowler had been backed up by experience he could scarcely have proved more effective. Naturally when the dry weather set in he was less successful than before but, as we have had occasion to point out in dealing with Yorkshire cricket, the occasions were very few on which he was fairly collared. His qualities as a slow bowler struck everyone as being exceptional. He bowls with a high, easy action, his pitch is wonderfully accurate, and whenever the ground gives him assistance he can get a lot of spin on the ball. On some days, notably when Yorkshire beat Surrey in a single innings at Bradford, he was irresistible, combining so much break with a perfect length that the batsmen could do nothing against him. His value as a cricketer is by no means restricted to his bowling, as he has already proved himself a dangerous run-getter. Only 21 years old, and with a position already established, it will be disappointing indeed if he does not enjoy a brilliant career in the Yorkshire eleven.

© John Wisden & Co