MEAD, WALTER, who died in hospital at Ongar on March 18, aged 84, was in his day one of the most notable of slow-medium right-arm bowlers. With an easy delivery and remarkable command of length, he possessed exceptional powers of spin and could make the ball turn on the best of pitches. While generally employing the off-break, he sent down an occasional leg-break with good effect, this ball bringing him many of the 1,906 wickets he took at an average cost of 19.08 runs during his first-class career. Twice he performed the rare feat of taking 17 wickets in a match, an achievement equalled only by A. P. Freeman, of Kent. The first of these was in 1893 against the Australians, when Mead dismissed nine men for 136 in the first innings and eight for 69 in the second. Two years later against Hampshire at Southampton he took eight for 67 and nine for 52.
Born at Clapton, in Middlesex, on March 25, 1869, Mead was invited by Bob Thoms, a celebrated umpire, to take part in a colts' match for the county of his birth in 1885 but declined and five years later, having qualified by residence, made his first appearance for Essex. He continued to play for the eastern county till 1913, except for the seasons of 1904 and 1905 when, because of a dispute over the question of winter pay, he took no part in county cricket. During those two summers he played for M.C.C. and London County without achieving much success. His best season for Essex was that of 1895 when he took 179 wickets for less than 15 runs apiece and gained fifth place in the first-class bowling averages. In three successive innings he disposed of 24 batsmen for 192 runs.
Mead rarely distinguished himself as a batsman, but at Leyton in 1902 he hit 119 against Leicestershire. At Sheffield in 1893, when no other Essex player exceeded 20, he went in at No. 10 and scored 66 not out, followed by taking four wickets for eight runs in the first Yorkshire innings and six for 73 in the second and so bore a leading part in a victory by seven wickets. As a fieldsman, Mead generally occupied the cover-point position with distinction.
His sole appearance for England was against Australia at Lord's in 1899 when, though bowling 53 overs, 24 of them maidens, he took only one wicket for 91 runs. From 1891 to 1918, he was a member of the M.C.C. staff at Lord's.