William Newham

NEWHAM, MR. WILLIAM, died on June 26, aged 83, when still in harness as assistant secretary of Sussex County Club, with which his official connection dated back to 1889. That season, when both secretary and captain, he headed the batting averages with 30.20 for 31 completed innings. Educated at Ardingly, he remained at the College as a master until 1887, and two years later became secretary of Sussex, a post he resigned in 1907, when, with Colonel E. A. Bruce, Honorary Secretary, he was appointed assistant secretary, an office which enabled him to retain his connection with the county club until his death.

He first appeared for the county in 1881, and his 63 years as amateur player, captain, and in secretarial duties are regarded as constituting a cricket record. Although in a few summers he played little because of his other activities, he did not give up playing until late in the 1905 season, when in first-class cricket his total runs numbered about 14,500 with an average of 24.

At his best Billy Newham stood out in the front rank among batsmen, and excelled as a fieldsman in the country. Of middle height and well built, he displayed exceptional skill against fast bowling. He drove hard on either side of the wicket, cut brilliantly, and earned special fame when playing back with forcing strokes past mid-on or turning the ball to leg.

In his second year with Sussex he headed the averages, a feat he repeated in 1884 and 1889. Of 19 three-figure innings he played his highest, 201, against Somerset at Hove in 1896. In company with C. B. Fry, K. S. Ranjitsinhji and George Brann, his junior at Ardingly, Newham made the Sussex batting very strong, particularly at Hove, a fast-scoring ground. Yet some of his best performances were away from home. In 1902 at Leyton he and Ranji (230) put together 344, which still stands as a world record for the seventh wicket; Newham made 153. Perhaps his more meritorious achievement took place at Old Trafford in 1894, when he carried his bat through an innings of 174, his 110 not out being described at the time as a remarkable combination of resolute hitting and skilful defence against deadly bowling by Mold and Briggs. Alfred Shaw, then nearly 52 years of age, making his first appearance for Sussex under the residential qualification, went in last and alone of the other Sussex batsmen reached double figures with 16. Following-on, Sussex fell for 38, Newham with 9 being exceeded only by C. Aubrey Smith, 10.

Newham in his only match at Lord's for Gentlemen against Players made 25, the highest score for his side, who won an exciting struggle by five runs. Four times he appeared for the Gentlemen at the Oval and three times at Hastings. In the winter of 1887, when touring Australia with the team organised by Shaw and Shrewsbury, he played in the side combined with that led by W. W. Read against Australia, who were beaten in the one representative match by 126 runs.

A very good Association football player, Newham was a member of the Corinthian club.

© John Wisden & Co