Obituary

Andy Sandham

SANDHAM, ANDREW, who died in hospital on April 20, 1982, aged 91, might, had things turned out differently, have been for years a regular and successful Test match batsman. It was his misfortune that, slow to develop, owing partly to the great pressure for places as batsmen in the Surrey side, partly to the Great War, he was over 30 when he first came into serious consideration, and by then his rival as Hobbs's partner was Sutcliffe. By the time Hobbs retired from international cricket Sandham was too old to be his replacement. And so he will be remembered as a wonderful servant of Surrey and as Hobbs's partner for the county for fifteen years.

His career began as long ago as 1911 when in his first match he made 53 against Cambridge and in his second 60 against Lancashire, creating a great impression. None the less in 1912 he had only one match for the county. In 1913 he scored 196 against Sussex, adding 298 with Harrison for the sixth wicket, and one might have supposed that this would have made his place secure, but a month later he was dropped for D. J. Knight, who had just left Malvern, and in 1914 he appeared in only five matches. Even in 1919 he was dropped for some matches, but an innings of 175 not out against Middlesex at the beginning of August at last ensured him a regular place, which he retained until 1937 when, having made a century against Sussex at Hove in the last match of the season, he left it to the Surrey Committee to announce his retirement. By then he had made in all first-class matches 41,284 runs with an average of 44.83, including 107 centuries. Twenty times he had exceeded a thousand runs, two of these occasions being on tours abroad, and his 219 for Surrey in 1934 is still the highest score made for a county against the Australians.

His first Test match was against Australia at The Oval in 1921, when he made a useful 21 at No 5. In 1922-23 he went to South Africa, where he played in all five Tests as an opener, but did little, although taking the tour as a whole he was the most consistent bat on the side, and in 1924 he played twice against South Africa, scoring 46 in his only innings. That winter he was a member of Arthur Gilligan's side in Australia. Hobbs and Sutcliffe were now in their prime as an opening pair and Sandham in his two Tests, going in lower down, met with no success. Finally in 1929-30 he went to West Indies and played innings of 152 at Bridgetown and 325 at Kingston. These matches were classified as Tests only at a later date: at the time they were called Representative matches and in fact only one of the English team played in the Tests in England in the following summer.

So, unluckily, he never had the chance of opening for England with Hobbs. To Surrey, Hobbs and Sandham meant what Hobbs and Sutcliffe did to England. They put up 100 for the first wicket 63 times, their highest partnership being 428 against Oxford University in 1926. Sandham was the ideal partner, content to stay there and let Hobbs take the applause and as much of the bowling as he wanted. When, against Somerset at Taunton in 1925, Hobbs, having equalled W. G.'s number of centuries in the first innings, had a chance of beating it in the second, Sandham saw to it that he got the bowling, thus sacrificing a possible hundred for himself. He was the least selfish of players.

He had formed his style in his early days by watching Tom Hayward, much of whose skill on the leg side he had inherited, and he perfected it by association with Hobbs. Like many small men he was quick on his feet and a fine and fearless hooker: this, with his mastery of the cut, in which he always made full use of such height as he had, made him a particularly good player of fast bowling. Of his other strokes perhaps the best was a square drive. He was also a magnificent outfield with a fast and low return, whose value was even greater in the days when the whole area of The Oval was used more often than it is now.

His services to Surrey did not end with his playing career. From 1946 to 1958 he was their coach and then for another twelve years their scorer. An Honorary Member at the Oval since 1961 and a Vice-President since 1979, he continued to watch the play there till the end of his life. He was also an Honorary Member of MCC. A quiet man with a great sense of humour, who set himself and expected of others a high standard of behaviour, he was much respected.

© John Wisden & Co