KILNER, ROY, born at Low Valley, Wombwell, near Barnsley, on October 17, 1890, died of enteric in the BarnsIey Fever Hospital on April 5, aged 37. By his early death English cricket lost, not only a notable exponent of the game, but a man of rare charm. Few modern professionals commanded such a measure of esteem and kindly regard from his own immediate colleagues and his opponents in the cricket field as did Roy Kilner. He was modest to a degree concerning his own abilities, and generous in his estimate of those he played with and against. Kilner's cricketing life consisted of two separate and distinct periods. Before the War he was essentially a batsman, Yorkshire having such a wealth of bowling talent that the need for him to exploit this part of the game did not really arise. The death of M. W. Booth--killed at the Battle of Lens, just before which Kilner himself was wounded in the right wrist--followed, after hostilities had ceased, by that of A. Darke, and the retirement of George Hirst, brought about a considerable change in Yorkshire's strength in attack. Without neglecting his batting, Kilner turned his serious attention to bowling, but the season of 1922 had dawned before he became one of the leading left-handed bowlers in the country and an all-round player of marked ability. His powers as a batsman were a little slow to ripen, for, although he gained a place in the Yorkshire eleven in 1911, not until two years later did he firmly establish himself. Left-handed, as in bowling, Kilner could, if necessary, play a dogged game, but that was foreign to his temperament, and he will always be remembered by his rather aggressive methods. He drove with considerable power on the off-side and pulled very hard. For Yorkshire he put together fifteen 100's, and in all matches for his county scored 13,014 runs with an average of 29.91. Four times in his career he accomplished the double feat of making 1,000 runs and taking 100 wickets in a season.
In 1927, although he scored 1,004 runs with an average of over 33, his bowling seemed to have lost some of its former deadliness, even in favourable conditions. At his best, however, he was a fine slow bowler, spin and accuracy of length making him at times almost unplayable. To a close student of the game he afforded the greatest interest. His admirable length enabled him to keep on for long spells without undue punishment, and he never ceased during these to try all sorts of experiments in the way of variation of flight and pace. In his hands the spinning ball, just a trifle factor than usual with no apparent change of action, proved most effective. He took part in seven Test Matches against Australia, three when a member of the M.C.C. team under Mr. A. E. R. Gilligan in the winter of 1924-25, and four in England in 1926. He achieved little of consequence in the latter matches and did not appear in the Oval match when England regained the Ashes, but he accomplished useful work in Australia, where in all games he had a batting average of 31 and obtained fifty-seven wickets for less than 20 runs apiece. At Adelaide, on a treacherous pitch, he and Woolley finished Australia's second innings by getting down the last seven wickets in an hour for 39 runs, Kilner taking four for 14. But Australia, after a great struggle, won the match by 11 runs. Kilner's benefit--against Middlesex at Leeds in 1925--realized £4,016--a record. The play was watched by 71,000 persons.
In the winter of 1924-25, he went to Australia, where he scored 448 runs, average 24.88, and took forty wickets for 25 runs each, and in the West Indies in 1925-26 he averaged 22.63 for 249 runs, with thirty-four wickets at a cost of less than 30 each.
The highest of his fifteen three-figure innings for Yorkshire was 206 not out v. Derbyshire at Sheffield in 1920. He also made 113 in the Gentlemen v. Players match at Lord's in 1920 and 103 for England v. West Australia at Perth in 1924-5. In other matches he took five for 11 for North v. South at Eastbourne, in 1922, and six for 16 in first innings and eight for 23 in second for Europeans v. Hindus at Lahore in 1922-3. For the Players at Lord's, in 1924, besides scoring 113, he took six for 20 in the second innings (not bowling in the first), five of these being obtained in the course of five overs for 2 runs. During the last winter in which he accepted an engagement in India, he played an innings of 283 not out for Rajendra Gymkhana v. Gurgaon at Delhi, in November, 1927, hitting six 6's and forty 4's. He was nephew of the late Irving Washington, of Yorkshire, and brother of Norman Kilner, of Warwickshire. His portrait appeared in Wisden's Almanack of 1924.