William Reeves

REEVES, WILLIAM, a very useful bat and bowler for Essex and in recent years one of the best of the first-class umpires, died after an operation on March 24, aged 67. Born at Cambridge, he joined the ground staff at Leyton, where his life centred, for he married into the family of E. C. Freeman, head groundman. A free, hard-hitting batsman and right-arm bowler of medium pace, Reeves fielded keenly and altogether accomplished much useful work for Essex from 1897 to 1921. Altogether he scored 6,603 runs, average 16.63, took 595 wickets at an average cost of 27.93, and held 116 catches. His best bowling season was 1904, when 106 wickets fell to him at 26 runs apiece. Next year, when he did his best batting with 1,174 runs, average 29.35, he scored 135 against Lancashire in two hours and 101 against Surrey--both at Leyton. In 1906 his only other century for Essex, 104 against Sussex, was a dashing performance, he and C. P. Buckenham (68) making 163 for the eighth wicket in seventy minutes. Another, noteworthy effort came in 1919, when he and G. M. Louden, the fast bowler put on 122 for the last Essex wicket against Surrey. All these efforts were at Leyton, where also he twice severely punished the powerful Yorkshire attack, and with 71 out of 90 in fifty minutes in 1905, with Charles McGahey as partner, helped in a total of 521. The champions had to follow-on and only just escaped defeat with three wickets in hand, Ernest Smith, who stayed an hour without getting a run, being not out with Lord Hawke. Some of his best bowling performances also were achieved at Leyton, then regarded as a batsman's paradise. In the course of 11 balls he took the last five Derbyshire wickets without conceding a run in 1901. Six years later he and Walter Mead bowled unchanged through both innings of Nottinghamshire, who won a low-scoring game by only seven runs and went on to carry off the Championship without suffering defeat.

A member of the Lord's ground staff for many years, he played in some good matches for M.C.C., and at Lord's in 1920 he dismissed five Nottinghamshire batsmen for 13 runs. Recently Bill Reeves took part in the special Easter coaching class for schoolboys at Lord's, but the present generation knew him best as an admirable umpire who stood in many Test matches. In this capacity he often gave evidence of his caustic humour. Once when a batsman protested that he was not out, Reeves retorted, Weren't you? Wait till you see the papers in the morning. To a bowler notorious for appealing, he remarked, There's only one man who appeals more than you do. Oh, who's that? asked the bowler. Dr. Barnardo, replied Reeves.

© John Wisden & Co