ALL-ROUND CRICKETER OF THE YEAR - 1894

George Giffen

GEORGE GIFFEN, who by general consent has for some time past been regarded as the greatest all-round cricketer yet produced by the Australian Colonies, was born in Adelaide on the 27th of November, 1859, and first came to England as a member of W. L. Murdoch's great eleven in 1882. He was then a young player of comparatively little experience in first class cricket; but though his doings during that memorable tour were by no means of an exceptional character, good judges of the game were almost unanimous in predicting for him a brilliant career. In 52 innings he scored 873 runs, with an average of just over 18, while the thirty-two wickets he took cost rather more than 22 runs each. In an eleven which included Spofforth, Palmer, Garrett, and Boyle, he was only regarded as a change bowler, but his future fame with the ball was foreshadowed by an extraordinary performance against the Gentlemen of England at the Oval. He came again to England in 1884, and it was clear that his powers had considerably developed. He scored 1,052 runs with an average of 21, and, his bowling being far more frequently used than before, he took 82 wickets with an average of something worse than 19. Then on his third visit to this country, with the disappointing team that came over in 1886 under the auspices of the Melbourne Club, he met with brilliant success, coming out at the top of the averages both in batting and bowling. Considering the immense amount of work he had to do, this was indeed a record to be proud of. He scored 1,454 runs and took 162 wickets, his batting average being 25, and his bowling average 16. The tour of 1886 left Giffen with an unquestioned position as the best all-round player in Australia, and his absence from this country in 1888 and 1890 prevented the teams that toured here in those years from being fully representative of Colonial cricket. Meanwhile his performances in Australia were more remarkable than ever, and each succeeding winter we read of his making phenomenal scores for South Australia, and in the same matches taking a very large proportion of the wickets. He did not as a batsman do very much against Lord Sheffield's eleven in the Australian season of 1891-92, but so enormous was his reputation, that when it became known that he was coming to this country for the fourth time in 1893, the English public naturally expected great things of him. It would be flattery to pretend, however, that his play came up to anticipation. He bowled very well indeed-better on hard wickets than any other member of the side-but apart from a couple of long innings against Gloucestershire and Yorkshire his batting fell far below his Australian standard. Indeed, in the matches generally regarded as representative in character, his average was only 12. It cannot be said, therefore, that his fourth visit to England added to his reputation. Of course he did a lot of good work, but he did not prove the tower of strength on the side that his friends in South Australia had expected. Still, whatever his shortcomings in England in 1893, his record during the last ten years in Australia is sufficient to stamp him one of the world's greatest all-round players.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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