Charles Turner

H.P.

TURNER, MR. CHARLES THOMAS BIASS, a bowler ranking with the best ever produced by Australia, and by many who played against him considered without superior, died on New Year's Day in Sydney, aged 81. Records that stand to his name tell of his work with the ball, but it is remarkable that in the first set of photographs that appeared in Wisden he is holding a bat and wearing pads in company with his colleague J. J. Ferris, grasping a ball in his left hand. Chosen with G. A. Lohmann, of Surrey, Robert Peel, of Yorkshire, John Briggs, of Lancashire, and S. M. J. Woods, of Cambridge University and Somerset--himself an Australian--the two members of the team captained by P. S. McDonnell fully deserved the honour, for they practically dominated every match in which they played on this their first visit to England. In a season when bowlers accomplished wonderful things, almost beyond belief in these days, Turner took 314 wickets at 11.12 runs apiece and Ferris 224 at 14.10 each-- G. H. S. Trott coming next with 48 at 23.41. In nine matches against specially chosen sides, three representing England, 70 wickets fell to Turner and 41 to Ferris, seven others claiming only 23 between them. The habit prevailed at that time or relying upon two or three bowlers on a side for the chief work of the season and McDonnell carried this custom to the extreme limit, but of the other specialists picked by C. F. Pardon, Lohmann for Surrey was almost as supreme with 253 wickets at 10.69, Beaumont, with 59, giving most help in carrying off the championship in this year of bowlers' triumphs mainly on rain-affected pitches.

To have seen these masters of the art at the Oval is a pleasant recollection, and not one of them creates a happier memory than Turner in his rather long rhythmic run and beautiful right-arm action without any effort to make the most of his medium height--five feet nine inches. He delivered the ball almost facing square down the pitch, and, added to his off-break with slightly varied pace about fast-medium, was ability to turn the ball from leg, send down a fast yorker, and, above all, to get quick lift from the turf. As sufficient evidence of Turner's skill, Sir Stanley Jackson said in last year's Wisden, I always regarded Charles Turner as the best medium-paced bowler I ever played against--and he could gather an opinion as he scored 91 at Lord's and 103 at the Oval in the Tests in 1893, when Turner, on his third and last visit to England, fell from his greatest achievement to 149 wickets at 14 each, after 215 at 12 in 1890.

Turner earned fame in the 1886-87 season against Arthur Shrewsbury's team. After taking 13 wickets for 54 runs for New South Wales, he in his first Test match dismissed six batsmen for 15 runs, England being all out for 45, which remains the lowest total by England against Australia. He excelled again for New South Wales with 14 wickets for 59, clean bowling Shrewsbury for nought in each innings. In the following season, when Shrewsbury again captained a side in Australia, Turner for New South Wales took 10 wickets for 45 and 16 for 79. G. F. Vernon led another team in Australia at that time, and against the Combined England sides Turner claimed 12 wickets for 87, but, thanks to Peel and Lohmann, the visitors beat Australia by 126 runs. Altogether in 1887-88 Turner took 106 wickets at 13.59 apiece, and his record of being the only bowler to take a hundred wickets in first-class cricket in a season in Australia still stands.

So expectations were rife and at once we knew in England that no one had overrated The Terror. Turner and Ferris routed side after side, actually disposing of England at Lord's for 53 and 62 and steering Australia to victory by 61 runs. Ten wickets for 63 was Turner's share at the expense of very powerful batting, as shown in the other two Tests played on hard turf and both won by England with an innings to spare. Turner also gave early proof of his batting ability, for in the third victory of the tour, each gained in two days, he played a dashing innings of 103 at the Oval, and then, taking nine wickets for 101 runs, was chiefly instrumental in beating Surrey, the champion county of the year, by an innings and 154 runs. Checks were bound to occur when so many strong teams were opposed, but at Lord's Turner returned an average of eleven Middlesex wickets for 59 runs in a low-scoring match, and whenever helped by the state of the turf he did wonders. Twelve wickets for 64 runs at Old Trafford against North of England; 11 for 76 at Liverpool; 11 for 64 at Leicester, where the county won a sensational match by 20 runs--thanks to Pougher, 10 for 91, and Arnall-Thompson, nine for 65; then 13 for 46 at Derby and 13 for 48 at Stoke against an England XI in the course of five days. In the first innings of the Stoke match Turner bowled seven men and got two leg-before, the other being run out. So he paved the way for that big performance in the first meeting with England at Lord's. Ten wickets for 46 against Yorkshire and ten for 59 against Kent also may be cited, and still more extraordinary was his greatest return, 17 wickets for 50 runs against an England XI, at Hastings in August. In the two innings Turner hit the stumps 14 times, got two men l.b.w., and one stumped--further wonderful proof of how he did beat the bat. When Turner, owing to indisposition, was compelled to rest, Gloucestershire beat the Australians by 257 runs, and altogether nine of the last eleven matches were lost without marring the wonderful work of Turner and Ferris.

Such performances tell of the conditions that so often helped these two consistent bowlers, who repeated their excellence in 1890, if inevitably not quite so deadly. Exact figures show best how they shared the attack and the honours in these two tours, their wickets being equal on the second visit when W. L. Murdoch last led an Australian team.

In 1893 Turner again headed the Australian bowling figures with 160 wickets at 13.76 each; Hugh Trumble, 123 at 16.39, and George Giffen, 148 at 17.89, affording more help than when Ferris, who at this time was playing for Gloucestershire, fairly shared the honours.

By comparison, the figures of W. J. O'Reilly, the best Australian bowler in the 1938 tour, are interesting: 709.4 overs, 215 maidens, 1,726 runs, 104 wickets, 16.59 average. Six balls an over certainly; and he complained of over-work.

Altogether in 17 Test matches--all against England-- Turner took 101 wickets at 16.53 runs apiece in the course of ten years. This average just beats Robert Peel's 102 wickets at 16.81 and far surpasses the next best Australian record, 141 at 20.88 by Hugh Trumble in 32 Tests.

In all first-class matches Turner is credited with 1,061 wickets at 13 runs each, as mentioned in Scores and Biographies.

After some years in the Australian Joint Stock Bank, Turner was associated with other business, and when he left Sydney for Queensland in 1897 his first-class cricket career ended.

© John Wisden & Co