Full name Russell Donnithorne Walker
Born February 13, 1842, Southgate, Middlesex
Died March 29, 1922, Regent's Park, London (aged 80 years 44 days)
Major teams Middlesex, Oxford University
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm slow (roundarm)
Education Harrow School; Oxford University
|First-class span||1861 - 1878|
Russell Donnithorne Walker had been very ill for some time, but the end came quite suddenly, just when he seemed to be rallying and was not without hope of watching one more season's cricket at Lord's. Born on February 13, 1842, he had received many congratulations on completing his 80th year.
Mr. A. J. Webbe writes :The passing of Russie Walker has closed a wonderful chapter of English Cricket, for he was the last of the famous brothers who will always he remembered as having played the game in the best and most chivalrous spirit. The Walkers of Southgate founded the Middlesex County Cricket Club, and until "I.D." retired in 1884 the Eleven was always captained by one of the brothers. After that V. E. and R. D. followed each other as Presidents of the Club, so that we may say that Middlesex Cricket was run by the family from 1864, when it was started, until the commencement of 1922. Russie was two years in the Harrow Cricket and Football Elevens, and also won the Champion Racquet. He then proceeded to B.N.C., Oxford,and was five years in the University XI, also representing Oxford in the single and double Racquet contests. For several years he played for the Gentlemen v. the Players, and, of course, for Middlesex county, though he retired from first-class cricket far too soon, actually making a century in almost his last county match-- against Surrey at the Oval, when the match resulted in a tie.
Present-day cricketers will hardly believe that he faced the fastest bowlers--faster than any we have at the present moment--unarmed with either pads or gloves and, strange to say, he was never seriously hurt.
As a Racquet and Tennis player he was quite at the top of the tree. In both these games, as in his cricket, he played in a most peculiar style; but with great effect. He simply revelled in unorthodoxy. He certainly attained a higher eminence at Racquets than he did at Tennis, and often said he regretted not having taken up the latter game earlier. It was a great treat in the old days of Prince's Club, in Hans Place, to see him play a single, as he did frequently, with Punch Fairs, the champion Racquet player, from whom he used to receive three aces.
He was also a wonderful Whist player, but I fancy he never became equally good at Bridge. He was a very fine Billiard player and frequently had one of the professionals to play on his small pocket table at North Villa, Regent's Park. Indeed he took a keen interest in almost every game up till the very last hour of his life, and the handicap of his long illness seemed if anything to add to his keenness. He struggled up to Lord's-he was a trustee of the M.C.C.--to attend the Committee meetings, both of M.C.C. and of the Middlesex C.C., and to witness the matches all through the summer of 1921. The absence of his bath chair, which used to be drawn up in front of the Players' dressing room, was greatly noticed last summer. The Middlesex professionals and his old friends had many a pleasant chat there with him. It seems strange that neither he nor any of the seven brothers ever married. A partial explanation of this is, I think, their wonderful attachment to each other. Never was there a more united family, and Russie was idolized up to the end of his long life by his numerous nephews and nieces--his five sisters were all married, but alas, there is no one to perpetuate the family name. No one had more friends, though, of course he had outlived most of them his friendship once gamed was wonderfully strong and true, and those friends who, like the writer, have survived him, will treasure his memory to the end of their lives.
He was one of the most generous of men, but, like his brothers, he had a horror of his name appearing in any subscription list, insisted on remaining anonymous. Besides his interest in games he was fond of music of the best kind, in former days never missing the concerts which were termed " Monday Pops." In fact, he was all his life a constant attendant at the best Concerts and Operas. To recall these performances and the numerous great performers that he had met and heard was a great joy to him, and his memory was never at fault.
To what Mr. Webbe has written one may add as a matter of record, that Mr. Walker was in the Harrow eleven in 1859 and 1860, and in the Oxford eleven from 1861 to 1865, he being the last who played five times in the University match. A rule was passed in 1865 that no one should play for more than four years. Walker met with little success as a batsman against Cambridge, his best score being 42 in 1861. In the five matches nine wick fell to his innocent-looking but rather deceptive slow bowling. He had pleasanter recollections of his two matches against Eton. In 1859, when Harrow won in a single innings, he scored 28 and took six wickets, getting rid of R. A. H. Mitchell for 10 and 0, and the drawn game in 1860 he took five wickets for 37 runs and two for 60. It was often said of him that his style of batting could be neither described nor imitated. It was entirely his own. He assisted the Gentlemen against the Players in ten matches between 1863 and 1868, and had a batting average--very good in those days --of 24. His best score was 92 at the Oval in 1865. He made 63 in his second innings at Lords in 1866, when the Gentlemen we beaten, after a fine fight, by 38 runs, and in the same year he scored 32, when the Gentlemen followed on and gained their first victory at the Oval. S.H.P.
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