Alfred Dipper

DIPPER, ALFRED ERNEST, died at St. Thomas's Hospital, London, on November 7, within two days of his 58th birthday. He played for Gloucestershire from 1908 to 1932, and on retiring became a first-class umpire. Seldom can chance have entered more into a professional's county baptism than was the case with Dipper. A man short for the match at Tonbridge against Kent in June, Gloucestershire requested a local club to fill the vacancy and, in reply, came Dipper of Tewkesbury. Making 30 not out, highest score for the side when going in last but two, Dipper got eight in a more disastrous second-innings collapse. Then a steady 19 checked a breakdown against Somerset and helped in a victory by six wickets. When promoted in the batting order he fared disastrously several times and could not keep his place in the side, then captained by G. L. Jessop, but from 1911 he regularly registered a four-figure aggregate and became a very dependable opening batsman of the stolid type. Five times he exceeded 2,000 and passed the thousand in ten other seasons; in 1928 in his 41st year he excelled with 2,365 runs at an average of 55. His full record in first-class cricket was 28,075 runs with an average of 35.22, and highest innings 252 not out against Glamorgan in a total of 481 for nine wickets declared at Cheltenham in 1923. On eleven occasions he carried his bat through an innings and, of 53 scores of three figurers each, two 117 and 103--were made against Sussex at Horsham in 1922. In each innings against Somerset at Bristol in 1913 his opening stand with C. S. Barnett exceeded a hundred, but his most noteworthy partnership occurred against Lancashire in 1925 when he and W. R. Hammond put on 330 for the third wicket, a record for the Old Trafford ground.

These figures scarcely show the value of Dipper to his side. For several years he could anticipate little support from his colleagues and on this account often resorted too rigidly to defence; but he could exploit most of the good scoring strokes and, though seldom becoming aggressive, many times made more than half the runs put on during his stay. Beyond question Hammond set an example which Dipper strove to emulate with more freedom and versatility in stroke-play. His talent improved in better company but the inevitable decline came with increasing age. Yet in 1932, when approaching 45, he averaged 30.37--second only to Hammond; and so ended the active cricket career of one of the most loyal and successful professionals who ever served the county, as H. E. Roslyn wrote in Wisden. Unfortunately Dipper never fielded really well, and this weakness limited his selection for big occasions to one Test--against Australia at Lord's in 1921, when England were in sad straits. As a medium to slow bowler Dipper occasionally proved useful, taking 161 wickets for the county at a cost of 30.32 each, and he held 197 catches. He was a noted bowls player and very good at billiards.

Dipper was buried at Manor Park Cemetery, London, Mr. F. O. Wills, chairman of Committee, and Lieut.-Col. H. A. Henson, Secretary, representing Gloucestershire County Club.

© John Wisden & Co