Frank Laver

S.H.P.

LAVER, MR. FRANK, who died in Melbourne on September 24, was probably a better batsman on Australian wickets than he ever proved himself in this country. Otherwise he would hardly have secured a place in the great team that came here in 1899, as at that time he was not regarded as more than just a change bowler. During the tour he scored 859 runs, and, with ten not-outs to help him, had an average of 30, but his style of batting was so ungainly that even when he did well very little was thought of him. No serious demands were made upon him as a bowler in 1899, the side being so strong, but he came off on the last day of the Test match at Lord's, when England for the moment seemed to have a chance of making something like a fight after having been hopelessly out-played. With tempting balls on the off side he got Hayward, Tyldesley. and Jessop caught in quick succession, this surprising bit of work making Australia's victory absolutely certain.

In 1905 and 1909 Laver's experience were altogether different. He came over as manager in 1905, and only expected to play now and then, but circumstances forced him to the front, and for fully a month he was the best bowler in the team, his success culminating in the Test match at Nottingham, when in England's first innings he took seven wickets. After that, probably from overwork, he fell off, but he was recovering his form towards the end of the trip. A tall, powerful man, he bowled medium pace, with an excellent command of pitch, and no doubt his height helped to make the flight of the ball deceptive. English batsmen considered him a very good but not an exceptional bowler, and often wondered why they fared so badly against him. Some of them thought that on fast wickets he ought generally to have been punished as MacLaren punished him at Trent Bridge in 1905, but perhaps his bowling was not so easy to hit as it looked to be. In 1909, when Australia won the rubber of Test matches by two to one and had all the best of two drawn games, Laver headed the bowling averages with a record of seventy wickets for just under fifteen runs apiece, but he played in less than half the matches. He had a great day against England at Manchester, taking eight wickets and having only thirty-one runs hit from him. He was born on December 7, 1869.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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