Obituary

Vivian Crawford

ESPNcricinfo staff

CRAWFORD, MR. VIVIAN FRANK SHERGOLD, died on August 21, at the age of forty-three. He was born on April 11, 1879. Coming out for Surrey in 1898 he took part in twelve matches, his best scores being 73 against Gloucestershire and 83 against Oxford University-both at the 0val. His first hundred for Surrey was 129 against Somerset at the Oval in 1899. In June that year he put his knee out at Chesterfield and could play no more for Surrey during the season. He was appointed secretary to Leicestershire in 1903 and having a birth qualification for the county was able to step into the eleven at once. At the Oval in 1909 he hit up a score of 172 against Surrey, and in the following season he finished with county cricket. For some years before the war he was living in Ceylon. He died, after two or three days' illness, from pneumonia, the war having left him with a much-impaired constitution.

Mr. D. L. A. Jephson has written the following tribute to his old colleague in the Surrey eleven: To those of us who love the clean, straight bat, the full-faced drive, the low, clean, golf-tinged shot, or the shoulder swing that cleared the ground, minimum of effort, maximum of accomplishment, his passing in the very prime of manhood, came as a blow- delivered in the face. From his earliest school days he showed a wonderful aptitude for the game, in all its branches, though as quite a youngster his bowling over-shadowed his batting -he was always a splendid field. Educated at Whitgift Grammar School he was for years the brain and backbone of their cricket side. It is impossible here for me to give a full list of his astonishing performances. These can be found in Wisden's Note Book for 1900, and strangely pleasant is the reading of them to those of us who know him. To those who did not, their perusal must be a continual source of surprise at the startling success of so young a player.

In 1895 he made 1,780 runs and took 200 wickets. Playing for Richmond and District v. Surrey he took eight wickets for 35 in seventeen overs, his victims being Abel, Lockwood, Holland, Ayres, Thompson, Mills, Clarke, and Richardson. In his second innings he made 25 out of 48 for eight wickets down. In 1896 he scored 218 before lunch, for the Young Amateurs v. Young Professionals at the Oval, 218 out of a total of 296, the sort of innings many of us would tramp long, weary miles to see. For years I had the privilege of playing on his side ; I played with him in club games and I played with him for Surrey. As a batsman Frank Crawford possessed many strokes, he was strictly orthodox in all his methods of attack or defence, and the straightness of his bat was a thing to marvel at, considering the wonderful power behind what seemed, and was, an effortless stroke. He will go down to posterity as one of the greatest straight-drivers the game has known: at any rate this is the opinion of players like Ranjitsinhji, C. B. Fry and G. W. Beldam. He was essentially a scientific hitter not a slogger. Here are a few of the many memories that are always with me of Frank Cranford at his best.

In his prime he was the personification of athletism at its zenith. I shall never forget at Bradford once when Surrey had lost five wickets for 30, he made a lightning hundred against Hirst and Rhodes, then in the heyday of their fame. The football pavilion at Bradford is opposite the cricket pavilion ; its two ends are ornamented with flagstaffs and it has a slate roof. Crawford hit six 6's--the right-hand flagstaff was struck, and the ball rebounded twenty yards into play. An over afterwards, and the left-hand staff returned the compliment, and on two occasions the slates went upwards in a cloud of dust. And there was one fierce low drive, off Wilfred Rhodes, that Denton, great outfield that he was, would not touch ; it laid out a parson first hop.

Again, at Bristol I saw him carry the pavilion. We were all seated on the top of the old-time structure- Paish was bowling, Champain, the old Oxford blue, was in the outfield on the edge of the cinder track. Crawford took one step and the ball soared upwards. " He's out," I cried, and we watched Champain ; there was so little fuss about the shot. Out, not a bit of it- it cleared Champain, it cleared the track, it sailed twenty yards over our heads onto the top of the pavilion, to fall nearly 170 yards from the crease. It was the greatest drive I have ever seen. I watched him make a 100 against Lancashire at the Oval, in less than an hour: at 50 he was caught by E. M. Dowson on the top of the ladies' pavilion, and before he was out he had planted Mold, at his fastest, into the football stand from a wicket well to the right of the members' enclosure. Space forbids me to tell many an anecdote I should love to tell, many an innings of his that would well bear allusion, but in conclusion I will say this, that I have seen and appreciated the punching of C. I. Thornton, the firm-footed fireworks of J. J. Lyons, and the wonderful hitting of Gilbert, Jessop, whirling a leviathan weapon ; but I have never seen a drive to the rails, a drive over the rails, or a drive that cleared the pavilion equal to the driving of Frank Crawford ; he never ` drove furiously,' but he drove uncommonly straight ! His physical equipment was magnificent. his heart was in the right place and he played the game in the great spirit--the spirit that strives not for itself but for the side.

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