Edward Pooley

EDWARD POOLEY, the once famous Surrey wicket-keeper, died in Lambeth Infirmary on the 18th of July. He had for a long time been in very poor circumstances and was often compelled to seek the shelter of the workhouse. Born on the 13th of February, 1838, he was in his seventieth year. All through his cricket career it was generally supposed that he was born in 1843 and the real date of his birth was only made known by himself in his interview inOld English Cricketers. It seems that when he determined to take up cricket professionally his father thought that he would have a better chance if he knocked a few years off his age. Thus, though regarded at the time as quite a young player, he was over three and twenty when in May, 1861, he played at the Oval for a team of Surrey Colts against the Gentlemen of the Surrey Club with Hayes and Heartfield. At the time his future fame as a wicket-keeper was unthought of, and presumably he was tried for his batting. Playing on the same side were Harry Jupp, and the still surviving J. Bristow. In 1862 Pooley was engaged as one of the bowlers at the Oval, but his regular connection with the Surrey eleven did not begin until about 1865. In the meantime he played for Middlesex, making his first appearance at Lord"s for that county against the M. C. C. on July 25, 1864. The match was a memorable one inasmuch as Grundy and Wootton got Middlesex out in the first innings for a total of 20. The story of how he came to succeed Tom Lockyer is graphically told by himself in Old English Cricketers. He said My introduction to wicket-keeping would be about the year 1863. Old Tom Lockyer"s hands were bad, and the ground being fiery he could not take his usual place behind the sticks. Mr. F. P. Miller, the Surrey captain, was in a quandary as to who should relieve him, so I, saucy-like, as usual, went up to him and said 'Mr. Miller, let me have a try."'You? What do you know about wicket-keeping? Have you ever kept wicket at all?" was Mr. Miller"s remark. 'No, never, but I should like to try," I replied. 'Nonsense" said he, and when just at that moment H. H. Stephenson came up and remarked 'Let the young"un have a go, sir," Mr. Miller thereupon relented. I donned the gloves, quickly go two or three wickets, and seemed so much at home that Tom Lockyer was delighted, and said I was born to keep wicket and would have to be his successor in the Surrey team. What he said came true

In 1866, Pooley established his position as one of the leading professionals of the day and thenceforward he remained a member of the Surrey eleven for seventeen years, finally dropping out in 1883. His great days as a wicket-keeper date from the time of the late James Southerton"s connection with Surrey in 1867. The two men helped each other enormously. Southerton"s slow bowling with a pronounced off break was then something comparatively new and while batsmen were learning to play him the wicket-keeper naturally had great chances. It is safe to say that no wicket-keeper then before the public could have assisted Southerton to the extent that Pooley did. He was quick as lightning and with all his brilliancy very safe. Partly from lack of opportunity he was not quite so good as Pinder or Tom Plumb to very fast bowling, but to slow bowling he was in his day supreme. Two or three pages of Wisden could easily be filled with details of his doings, but it is sufficient to say here that the record of the greatest number of wickets obtained in a first-class match still stands to his credit after an interval of nearly forty years. In the Surrey v. Sussex match at the Oval in July, 1868, he got rid of twelve batsmen, stumping one and catching five in the first innings and stumping three and catching three in the second. Curiously enough Southertonwas in the Sussex team in this match, players in those days being allowed to play for two counties in the same season if qualified by birth for one and by residence for the other. The rule was changed just afterwards and Southerton threw in his lot with Surrey. Apart from his Wicket-keeping Pooley was a first-rate bat, free in style, with fine driving power and any amount of confidence. He made many good scores and would without a doubt have been a much greater run-getter if he had not been so constantly troubled by damaged hands. During the Canterbury Week of 1871 he played an innings of 93 when suffering from a broken finger. Of the faults of private character that marred Pooley"s career and were the cause of the poverty in which he spent the later years of his life there is no need now to speak. He was in many ways his own enemy, but even to the last he had a geniality and sense of humour that to a certain extent condoned his weaknesses.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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