WRIGHT, WALTER, one of the first bowlers capable of swerving the ball to an appreciable extent, died at Leigh, Lancashire, on March 22, aged 84. Born at Hucknell, he played for Nottinghamshire from 1879 to 1886, for Kent from 1888 to 1899, and finished a long and varied career on the first-class cricket field as umpire. Bowling left-hand above medium pace, with good control of length, he used to trouble most batsmen at the start of an innings. His swerve, then almost a novelty, and speed from the turf rendered him extremely difficult, and he accomplished some remarkable performances. At Trent Bridge he once dismissed six Yorkshiremen for ten runs, and five M.C.C. wickets fell to him for one run on the same ground. During eight seasons when comparatively few first-class county matches were played, he took 193 wickets for Nottinghamshire at 18 runs apiece. His association with the county of his birth ended through some dispute over remuneration for a match with the Australian team of 1886. He then qualified for Kent, and for twelve years enjoyed much success, chiefly when sharing the attack with Nutty Martin, another left-hander of less pace. Before the ground was levelled, these two went through many sides at Moat Park, Maidstone. Wright, with the slope favouring his swerve, made the ball go very fast down-hill; Martin, using the left-hander's natural break-back, afforded a marked contrast--a leg-break to the right-handed batsman. Altogether for Kent, Walter Wright took 725 wickets at less than 20 runs each. Two notable performances against Middlesex, at Canterbury and Lord's, were identical--thirteen wickets for 106 runs in each match. On a third occasion thirteen wickets fell to him, this time at a cost of 150 runs, when Nottinghamshire visited Maidstone in 1895.
In 1880 a team of Canadians lost their best man, a deserter from the Horse Guards, and Wright was engaged to play for them. In his first match he scored 80 runs and took 14 wickets, but payment being uncertain in an ill-starred venture, Wright soon left the team and the tour broke down in mid-season. His ability as a right-handed batsman was shown in 1883, when, in the match with Gloucestershire, he was sent in shortly before time on the first evening, withstood the attack throughout the next day, and when the innings closed on the third morning he remained unbeaten with 127 runs to his credit. For Mote Park in 1887 he scored 237 against Free Foresters.
During his period as umpire, Wright officiated in the match at Taunton when James Phillips, standing at square leg, no-balled Tyler for doubtful delivery. Disagreeing with his colleague, Wright would not allow more than the regulation number of balls (four) to the over. At a time when single-wicket matches were popular, Wright in 1885 opposed eleven men and won very easily; he made 61 runs and dismissed his opponents in each innings for six.
In his young days, thanks to his quickness off the mark, he was an excellent field. His sprinting powers were demonstrated when he won the Sheffield Handicaps in 1880 and 1881--races which were stopped eventually because of the extensive betting with which they were associated. At one time he was considered to be the second fastest runner in the world at 130 yards.
After his long spell in first-class cricket, Walter Wright turned out for Berkshire in 1904, and for some years was coach at Radley College. He also acted as trainer to Association football clubs.