Obituary

Harry Altham

ALTHAM, HARRY SURTEES, who died from a heart attack after addressing a cricket society in Sheffield on March 11, aged 76, was among the best known personalities in the world of cricket--player, legislator, Test Selector, historian and coach. Educated at Repton, he was in the XI as opening batsman and occasional bowler for four years from 1905 to 1908, during which time Wisden described him as "more the made than the natural cricketer". His best season for the School, whom he captained in 1907 and 1908, was his last, when he scored 609 runs, including an innings of 150, for an average of 46.84. At Oxford, he gained a Blue in 1911 and 1912. In his first game against Cambridge he was bowled for 0 in the first innings, being the first "leg" of a hat-trick by J. F. Ireland, the Light Blue captain; but he hit 47 in the second innings, helping Oxford to victory by 74 runs.

He took part in six matches for Surrey in 1912 and, when becoming a master and cricket coach at Winchester, a post he held for thirty years, threw in his lot with Hampshire. Between 1919 and 1923, he scored 710 runs, average 22.16, for Hampshire, his highest innings and only first-class century being a faultless 141 against Kent at Canterbury in 1921 after being one of five men dismissed without scoring in the first innings.

Altham collaborated with E. W. Swanton in a book, The History of Cricket, and he was also the author of the M.C.C. Cricket Coaching Book published in 1952. Always keen on the encouragement of young players, he became chairman of the M.C.C. Youth Cricket Association and President of the English Schools Cricket Association. When appointed chairman of the Special Committee to inquire into the future welfare of English cricket in 1949, he said: "If only we can get enough boys playing this game in England and playing it right, it is quite certain that from the mass will be thrown up in some year or another a new Compton, a new Tate, a new Jack Hobbs, and when that happens we need not worry anymore about our meetings with Australia."

Altham was a member of the M.C.C. Committee from 1941 till he died, Treasurer from 1951 and President in 1959. He was chairman of the Test team Selection Committee in 1954 and, on the Committee of Hampshire for over forty years, was President of the County Club from 1946 to the date of his death.

He served in the Army during the First World War, being awarded the D.S.O. and the M.C.

© John Wisden & Co