William Brockwell

BROCKWELL, WILLIAM, a prominent Surrey cricketer nearly fifty years ago, died on July 1. A stylish and often brilliant batsman, strong in back play and a free hitter in front of the wicket, Brockwell also was a useful fast medium paced bowler and a smart fieldsman, notably at second slip where he succeeded George Lohmann--one of the surest catches ever seen in that position. First playing for the county in 1886, Brockwell matured slowly but it was difficult to find a place in the very powerful Surrey eleven of that period. However, from 1891 to 1902 he was a regular member of the side and played his last game in 1903 when the team were declining rapidly in all round strength.

During Brockwell's career at the Oval Surrey carried off the Championship eight times and once tied for first place with Lancashire and Nottinghamshire. Needless to say Surrey were tremendously strong in those days. Brockwell played under John Shuter, K. J. Key, D. L. A. Jephson and the present president, H. D. G. Leveson Gower. Among his contemporaries were such great batsmen as W. W. Read, Maurice Read, Robert Abel, Tom Hayward and bowlers of equal fame--George Lohmann, Tom Richardson and William Lockwood. To be in such company was an honour; and in 1894 Brockwell came out at the head of the English batting with the highest aggregate, 1491 and best average 38.9. He was also leading scorer for Surrey with 1091 runs and an average of 35--remarkable figures in a summer of` unsettled weather.

At the end of the season he was included in the side which A. E. Stoddart took out to Australia. The team won three out of five Test matches but Brockwell had a very small share in the victories, putting together no score of 50 and averaging less than 18 runs an innings in those games. He did not regain his form until 1896 but in that year and for several seasons afterwards he played a lot of fine cricket especially in 1898 when, although below Abel and Tom Hayward, he made 1468 runs in Championship matches and averaged 43, among his chief innings being six centuries. In 1893 and again in 1899, he was chosen to play for England against Australia at Manchester. His most effective bowling year was 1899 when in all Surrey matches he took 95 wickets. Altogether in the course of his career, which really finished when he was 32, he took 544 wickets in first-class matches at a cost of 25 runs apiece and scored 13,228 runs with an average of 26. Unhappily, after retiring from first-class cricket Brockwell fell upon evil days and he died in abject poverty at Richmond, aged 69, having been born on January 21, 1866.

© John Wisden & Co