Fred Root

ROOT, CHARLES FREDERICK, who died in the Royal Hospital, Wolverhampton, on January 20, aged 63, was celebrated as a leading exponent of "leg-theory" bowling. Born in Derbyshire on April 16, 1890, Fred Root, as he was always known, served for a time on the Leicestershire ground staff before commencing his first-class career with the county of his birth in 1910. After five seasons of moderate success as an orthodox bowler came the first World War, and in 1921 Root joined Worcestershire.

With his new county he changed his style, bowling fast-medium in-swingers on the leg stump with five fieldsmen stationed on the leg-side close to the batsman. So successful did these tactics prove that from 1923 onwards he took over 100 wickets in nine successive seasons, eight times heading the county averages. His best year was 1925 when, with 219 victims, average 17.21, he set up a record for a Worcestershire bowler. That achievement earned him a special testimonial fund in the county.

In 1926, for North of England at Edgbaston, he startled the cricket world by dismissing seven of H. L. Collins's Australian team in an innings for 42 runs. This gained him a place in the England team in three of the Test matches. Rain ruined the first, at Nottingham, but in the other two Root bowled well without repeating his earlier devastating form. In the fourth Test at Old Trafford, he gained these figures: 52 overs, 27 maidens, 84 runs, 4 wickets.

Three times in his career Root took nine wickets in an innings -- for 23 runs against Lancashire in 1932, for 40 runs against Essex in 1924, both at Worcester, and for 81 against Kent at Tunbridge Wells in 1930, when he disposed of three batsmen in four balls. He was also a batsman of no mean ability and in 1928 he completed the "cricketers' double", scoring 1,044 runs and taking 118 wickets. Altogether before his retirement from first-class cricket in 1933 he took 1,512 wickets for 21.11 runs each, scored 8,089 runs, average 15.37 and held 219 catches. Afterwards he played in Lancashire League cricket for a time, acted as coach to Leicestershire and as cricket correspondent of a national newspaper. In 1937 he wrote a book, A Cricket Pro's Lot, in which he expressed admirably the point of view of the professional player.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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