CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1901

John Tunnicliffe

JOHN TUNNICLIFFE was born on August 26th 1866, at Pudsey, the day happening to be Feast Sunday in the little Yorkshire town. He played all his early cricket in connection with the Pudsey Britannia Club of which he became a member when he was about sixteen years old. He is not absolutely certain on the point but he believes as that he played for the first eleven before he was seventeen. Of these youthful doings he cannot recall many particulars, but he remembers that he made his first hundred against Armley on his eighteenth birthday. Two years afterwards he played for the Colts of Yorkshire against the County eleven at Sheffield, scoring eleven and not out two and-being something of a bowler in those days-taking two wickets. Albert Ward came out the same year and but for the circumstance of his qualifying for Lancashire and playing for that county in 1889, after having had three trials for Yorkshire in 1886, might for the last dozen seasons have been a colleague of Tunnicliffe's on the Yorkshire eleven. In 1887 Tunnicliffe played for the Yorkshire Colts against the Notts Colts but his day had not yet arrived and he heard nothing from the Yorkshire authorities as to making an appearance in the county eleven. He had to wait a considerable time longer for his chance and it was not until the season of 1891 that he gained a place in the Yorkshire team. As he was then twenty-five years old be must be regarded as very late in coming forward. At the same age many famous batsmen, both professional and amateur, had already had a distinguished career to look back upon. Tunnicliffe's first season for Yorkshire was in no way sensational. Everyone realised that with his enormous advantages of height and reach he had possibilities, but he did nothing out of the common, only scoring in all matches for the county 374 runs with the modest average of 13. Tunnicliffe thinks that he first impressed the Yorkshire Committee in this same season of 1891 in a match at Sheffield between the Notts Colts and the Yorkshire Colts. Little Bobby Bagguley-one of the smallest men that ever appeared in first-class cricket-was just coming out for Notts, being then a lad of eighteen, and was looked upon as a bowler of more than ordinary promise. It had been raining hard the day before the match and the wicket was very soft indeed. Tunnicliffe thought the only chance of getting runs on such a pitch was to have a dash and he did, sending Bagguley twice in succession into the little refreshment stand at the left-hand side of the Pavilion and twice hitting him on to the seats. This little innings of 27 was the first revelation of the great hitting power that Tunnicliffe possesses-a power which he always has in reserve no matter how long he may at times repress it. Since the season of 1891 he has never looked back and has been a regular member of the team which, though of course with varying fortune, has so splendidly upheld the fame of Yorkshire cricket. There is no need here to go into statistics. All Tunnicliffe's performances-and they have been many and brilliant-are accessible to those who wish to study them. If asked to describe in a phrase Tunnicliffe's chief peculiarity as a batsman we should say that, like the great Australian left-hander Darling, he is by nature a big hitter, but has rigidly schooled himself to play a steady game. In his early days he was decidedly rash and hit up so many catches in the long field that his brother professionals had more than once to remind him that Bramall Lane was rather bigger than the cricket ground at Pudsey. Last season he was at his very best as a batsman, perhaps combining hitting and defence in better proportion than ever before. The innings that saved the match at Worcester showed his stubborn qualities at their highest development, just as his big score on a soft wicket at Trent Bridge showed to the fullest extent that he could do when a forcing game was demanded. Even if he had not been quite such a good bat Tunnicliffe would have lived in cricket history as the very best short slip of his day. Perhaps no cricketer has in the same position brought off so many wonderful catches. Time stands still for no man, however, and now at the age of thirty-four he does not find it quite so easy as he did to fling himself down at full length and bring off a one-handed catch six inches from the ground. Still, if he cannot stand comparison with himself, he is vastly better at slip than most men who field there.

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