CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1901

Schofield Haigh

SCHOFIELD HAIGH, was born on March 19, 1871, at Berry Brow-a suburb of Huddersfield, situated about two miles outside the town. After taking part in some school cricket, he threw in his lot, at the age of eighteen, with Armitage Bridge-Moorhouse's old club. At that time a medium-pace bowler, Haigh did well, and before very long came under the notice of Louis Hall. That veteran batsman was then in the habit of taking teams up to Scotland at the close of each summer and on his recommendation, Haigh, was engaged by the Aberdeen Club, with which body he remained for three seasons. He then went to Perth, and it was during his engagement there-which lasted two years-that the Yorkshire authorities first found out what an extremely promising bowler he was. He played for a Scotland team against the Lancashire eleven and the match, as it happened, proved the turning point of his career. The first time he went on to bowl in the game, 63 runs were scored off him before he took a wicket, but after that he carried all before him and finished up with a record of eight wickets for 78. He settled down at Leeds in 1896, and while engaged on the Headingley Ground commenced the connection with the Yorkshire eleven which has since brought him such fame in the cricket field. In a match against Durham, at Barnsley in 1896, he took fourteen wickets for fifty runs, and at the beginning of the following week he was included in the team that met the Australians at Bradford. This was his first opportunity in important cricket and he made the most of it, obtaining in the Australians, second innings eight wickets-five of them bowled down-at a cost of 78 runs. Yorkshire lost the match by 140 runs, but Haigh's position as one of the best young bowlers of the day was firmly established. For the rest of the season he was a regular member of the Yorkshire team and for a few weeks he bowled with conspicuous success, taking twelve wickets against Derbyshire at Sheffield, eleven against Warwickshire at Harrogate and doing good work in several other matches. Towards the close of the Summer the strain of three-day matches told on him, but for all that he came out first in the Yorkshire bowling for the season with 84 wickets for little more than fifteen runs apiece. From 1896 to the present time he has, as everyone knows, been one of the mainstays of the Yorkshire eleven, but his career as a bowler has not been one of unmixed success. Indeed, in 1897, 1898, and 1899 he scarcely fulfilled the hopes formed of him in his first season, and, though doing good work, seemed to be going back rather than forward. In the three years he took in County matches alone 70, 88 and 79 wickets, but his average was never so good as it had been in 1896. Last season, however, he jumped to the top of the tree and among the county bowlers of the year had, on results, no superior except his colleague Wilfred Rhodes. The two bowlers worked splendidly together and did more than anyone else to carry off the Championship for Yorkshire. His improvement was probably due in some measure to the fact that he modified the tremendous plunge with which he used to finish his delivery. Be this as it may, he certainly seemed to bowl with greater comfort to himself than in previous seasons. Technically a medium-pace to fast bowler Haigh commands a good variety of speed, and when the ground helps him his off break is, in the opinion of a good many batsmen, almost unplayable, the ball pitching outside the off stump and often hitting the leg stump, this doing more than the width of the wicket. Those who were behind his arm in the Pavilion at the Oval in August during Surrey's sensational second innings saw him at his deadliest. Haigh as a cricket is far more than a mere bowler, being a capital hard-working field and a resolute bat with a happy knack of making runs when the position is critical. This faculty was never more strongly revealed than in Yorkshire's match last July, at Worcester, when he helped Tunnicliffe to save Yorkshire from what had looked like an impending defeat.

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