CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1897

S. E. Gregory

SIDNEY E. GREGORY - a nephew of David Gregory, the captain of the first Australian team in England - was born on the 14th of April, 1870, and, like Trumble, paid his first visit to this country with the team of 1890. At that time he had by no means developed the skill as a batsman which has since made him famous, and it was chiefly his amazing brilliancy as a fieldsman that gained him his place on the side. During the first two months of the trip, however - before the fatigue of playing two matches a week began to tell upon him - he scored very well, and we believe Mr. W. G. Grace even then confidently predicted that he would make a first-rate name for himself as a batsman. He did not come out with a good record at the end of the season, scoring in all matches only 568 runs, with an average of just under 12½, and in the eleven representative matches averaging only seven with an aggregate of 116 runs. Still, his fielding alone sufficed to make him a popular figure on English cricket grounds, and it was felt that he was one of Australia's most rising players.

When he came again in 1893 he showed a very marked advance, scoring 1196 runs in all matches, with an average of 23, and 419 in the twelve representative games, with the same average. Perhaps his finest form was displayed in the match against the North of England, at Manchester, which he and Graham were largely instrumental in winning for Australia by three wickets. On that occasion Gregory scored 87 and 46. Still, he had not got to his best, his batting being a good deal below its present standard.

However, during the tour in Australia of Mr. Stoddart's team, in the Colonial season of 1894-95, he took his place once for all among the great batsmen of Australia. In eleven a-side matches against the Englishmen he averaged 37, with an aggregate of 486 in thirteen innings, scoring 201 and 16 at Sydney in the first of the five test matches; 70 and 30 in the fifth and conquering match at Melbourne; and 6 and 87 for New South Wales. After these fine performances no one was surprised at the splendid cricket he showed in this country last season. On all wickets - fast and slow - he was clearly the best bat in the Australian eleven, his position at the head of the averages being only the fitting reward of work that was both brilliant and consistent. For a short man, Gregory bats in very finished style, and if his extraordinary facility for taking balls off the middle stump and sending them to square leg occasionally loses him his wicket, it earns him a lot of runs and has a demoralising effect upon even the most skilful and self-possessed of bowlers.

© John Wisden & Co