JJ Ferris

J. FERRIS, died on November 17, at Durban, where he was serving with the British forces. Mr. Ferris, though only in his thirty-fourth year, had for some time dropped out of first-class cricket and had to a certain extent outlived his fame. Still, though his career ended early, he will always be remembered as one of the finest left-handed bowlers-either English or Australian-that ever appeared. Having in the two previous winters done great things against English teams in the Colonies, Ferris first came to this country in 1888 as a member of the Australian eleven captained by the late Percy McDonnell. Much was expected of him, and he more than fulfilled the most sanguine anticipations. No one who can recall the cricket season of 1888-one of the wettest on record-will need to be told what a sensation he and Charles Turner created. They were the mainstays of a team which, after a brilliant start, suffered many defeats, but the shortcomings were not in any way due to the two bowlers, who made their names famous wherever cricket is played. The eleven being deficient in change bowling, they had far too much to do, but they never seemed to tire, keeping up their form in a really wonderful way. Turner was the more successful of the two, taking in the whole tour 314 wickets for little more than 11 runs each. Ferris, however, also has a splendid record, 220 wickets falling to him for something over 14 runs apiece. The two men formed a perfect contrast, Turner being right hand, with an off-break perhaps never equalled at his speed, and Ferris left hand, with great accuracy, fine variety of pace, and a plot of spin. The weather flattered them, the wickets day after day giving them immense assistance, but it may be questioned if two finer bowlers ever played on the same side. One would not say that they were better than Spofforth and Palmer in 1882, but by reason of one being right-handed and the other left they were a more effective combination. As to the relative merits of Spofforth and Turner, cricketers have always been divided in opinion, the balance-among English players, at any rate-being in Spofforth"s favour on account of his better head and more varied resources. In Ferris"s case no question of comparison arose, as he was the first great left-handed bowler produced by Australia since the days of Frank Allan and Tom Kendall. Ferris and Turner came to England for the second time in 1890, and though associated with the least successful of all the Australian elevens, they fully sustained their reputations. This time Turner could only show a fractional superiority over his comrade. In the whole tour each man took 215 wickets, and there was a difference of less than a run a wicket in their averages. The summer was very wet, but there were more hard wickets to bowl on than in 1888, and under conditions favourable to run-getting Ferris perhaps did better work than Turner. That, at least, was the general opinion while the tour was in progress. With the tour of 1890 Ferris"s career as a representative Australian cricketer came to an end. He agreed to qualify for Gloucestershire, and when the Australians came here in 1893 he played for the county against his old friends. For Gloucestershire, however, he proved as a bowler - not to mince matters-an utter failure. It was thought that he would be invaluable to the eleven, but he merely showed a trace of the skill that had made him so famous, and when we last saw him bowl in a Gloucestershire match-in 1895-he had lost his pace, his spin, his action, and everything. In the autumn of 1895 he returned to Australia, but his efforts to recover his old position in Colonial cricket met with no success, and little was heard of him till it was announced that he had gone to South Africa to try his fortune at the war with the Imperial Light Horse. We must not forget to add that we went out to South Africa with Mr. W. W. Read"s team in the winter of 1891-2. He had a brilliant tour, taking 235 wickets, but he never bowled in the same form afterwards.

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