Obituary

Henry Foster

FOSTER, MR. HENRY ("HARRY") KNOLLYS, M.B.E., who died at his home near Hereford on June 23, in his 77th year, was the eldest of seven brothers who played for Worcestershire, but he was not the most famous member of the family. That distinction belonged to his brother, R. E. Foster, who at Sydney in 1903 put together for England against Australia the memorable score of 287 which stood as the record individual score in International matches until Sir Donald Bradman beat it at Leeds in 1930. Still, H. K. Foster was a very fine batsman who -- at his best -- would not have been out of place in a Test match, and, furthermore, he was a truly great racquets player.

Born on October 30, 1873, he received his education at Malvern College, and in his last year there, and his fourth season in the Eleven, 1892, headed the batting averages of an eleven which included W. L. Foster, W. W. Lowe and C. J. Burnup. Curiously, on going up to Oxford he was never given a trial for the eleven in 1893, but he did very well a year later when the only match the Dark Blues won was that against Cambridge.

His reputation as a first-rate batsman dated from 1895, when he gave a memorable display in the second innings against Cambridge. Set 331 to win, Oxford were all out for 196, but of this number Foster made 121 out of 159 in little more than two hours without a real blemish beyond a sharp chance when 45 to cover-point's left hand. The pace at which his cuts and off-drives went to the boundary was always recalled with admiration by those who witnessed the match. Foster was also a member of the Oxford Eleven that in 1896 made 330 runs and beat Cambridge by six wickets.

After his Oxford days, Harry Foster was for many years the mainstay of the Worcestershire Eleven, captaining the side when the county secured promotion to first-class rank in 1899, and -- apart from the summer of 1901, when he played no important cricket - he led the team until the end of the season of 1910. Five times in the course of a brilliant career which extended in all over about twenty years he averaged more than 40 runs an innings -- with one of 48 in 1908 his highest. Even in 1913, when he looked to have finished with first-class cricket, he came out once more for Worcestershire, made nearly 1,000 runs, and averaged 35. Six times he appeared for the Gentlemen against Players, and altogether in first-class matches he made 29 separate hundreds, all of which, except that against Cambridge, were played for Worcestershire. His highest scores were 216 against Somerset in 1903 and 215 against Warwickshire in 1904.

As a batsman he was quite a master of style, few men indeed playing in more attractive form, and while essentially an off-side run-getter he could pull with great effect. A brilliant field at short slip, he stood six feet high and in his Oxford days weighed less than ten stone and a half. In 1907, when South Africa sent over such a remarkable set of bowlers -- Vogler, Schwarz, Faulkner and White -- Harry Foster and C. H. B. Marsham assisted Lord Hawke in choosing the England Elevens. Five years later, on the occasion of the ill-starred Triangular Tournament, Foster, John Shuter and C. B. Fry were responsible for the selection of England's representatives, and in 1921, when in this country cricket had not recovered from the War, Foster, R. H. Spooner and John Daniell shared the thankless task of picking England's Elevens.

At racquets Foster carried off numerous honours. He and his brother, W. L. Foster, won the Public Schools Championship for Malvern in 1892. In the next four years he represented Oxford and proved victorious in both Singles and Doubles. Several times, efficiently partnered, he carried off the Doubles Championship, and from 1894 to 1900 and again in 1904 he won the Singles Championship.

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