George Atkinson

GEORGE ATKINSON, who died on May 3, was one of the last of the brilliant professionals who represented Yorkshire in the sixties. Ephraim Lockwood and Luke Greenwood are still alive, but Slinn, Hodgson, George Anderson, Rowbotham, Roger Iddison, Edward Stephenson, John Thewlis, George Pinder, and-most famous of all-George Freeman and Tom Emmett have passed away. Born on Sept. 21, 1830, Atkinson during his years in the Yorkshire eleven, bowled first with Slinn and Hodgson, and then with Freeman and Emmett. Bowling medium pace to fast, he prided himself on his extreme straightness, as well as his accuracy of pitch, and had no belief in the off theory so much indulged in first by slow and then by fast bowlers after his day. Atkinson was late in coming prominently before the public, being in his twenty-ninth year when, in 1859, he played his first match at Lord"s for the United Eleven against the All England Eleven-a match that in those days was, as regards professional cricket, the event of the season. He, and the still-surviving Surrey player, William Caffyn, bowled unchanged through both innings of the All England team. Of the two bowlers Caffyn was rather the more effective, taking eleven wickets to Atkinson"s eight. It may be interesting to recall the fact that in this match the late Thomas Hayward-one of the greatest batsmen of his generation, and uncle of the present player-was also seen at Lord"s for the first time. After he had retired from first-class cricket, Atkinson acted as coach, first at Marlborough and then for many years at Rossall. While he was at Marlborough A. G. Steel came out for the school, and both Atkinson and his successor, the Notts batsman, Charles Brampton, took credit for teaching the new star. It is likely enough that A. G. Steel learnt much from both instructors, but he had such a genius for cricket that he probably owed more to himself than to any coaching. At any rate, when at Marlborough in 1877, he would have been quite good enough to play for the Gentlemen at Lord"s if the M.C.C. committee had thought to ask him. Indeed, the late Robert Thoms, the umpire, contended that Steel never bowled quite so well as in his last year at school. One fact in connection with George Atkinson has often been referred to. He had such a fine tenor voice that, if he had been well-trained in his young days, he might easily have become a professional singer instead of a cricketer. He was buried in the Bowling Cemetery, Bradford, on May 7. Atkinson took part in the famous single wicket match at Stockton-on-Tees in September, 1862, in which Hayward, Carpenter, and Tarrant beat five of Stockton by 22 runs. Though on the losing side Atkinson greatly distinguished himself, taking five wickets with his bowling and running out Carpenter. Atkinson was asked to go to Australia with George Parr"s team in 1863, but declined.

© John Wisden & Co