Full name William Clarke
Born December 24, 1798, Nottingham
Died August 25, 1856, Wandworth, London (aged 57 years 245 days)
Major teams Kent, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Sussex
Also known as William Clark
Batting style Right-hand bat
|First-class debut||Sheffield and Leicester v Nottingham at Sheffield, Jul 24-26, 1826 scorecard|
|Last First-class||Nottinghamshire v England at Nottingham, Aug 16-18, 1855 scorecard|
William Clarke was one of the most remarkable cricketers of the nineteenth century. Born at Nottingham in 1798, he played his first game for his county in 1816 when only seventeen, but it was another twenty years before he appeared in a representative game at Lord's and he was not chosen for the Players in their matches against the Gentlemen until 1846. An underhand bowler, he delivered the ball from hip level, with a curling fii ht, leg-spin, and sharp rise from the pitch. He learnt much of his bowing technique from William Lambert, the Surrey all-rounder, but whereas Lambert changed to the new round-arm style Clarke continued with the old style and slowly perfected it until he was almost unplayable. His general knowledge of the game and skill in managing the field
was remarkable. His only fault was that he would continue to bowl himself for too long 'always expecting to get a wicket in his next over'. Clarke was by trade a bricklayer, but afterwards became a licensed victualler, and for some years was landlord of the Bell Inn at Nottingham, opening in 1838 the Trent Bridge ground. In 1846 he formed the All England XI, a team of the finest cricketers in the country, and the eleven, under the captaincy of Clarke, toured the county playing all teams willing to oppose them. In 1852 John Wisden and other young professionals who considered that £4 to £6 a match was not sufficient for their expenses broke from Clarke's eleven and formed the rival United England XI. In the latter part of his career Clarke's bowling performances were astonishing. From 1847 to 1853 he averaged 340 wickets a season and in the season of 1853 alone, after breaking his wrist the previous year, he dismissed 476 batsmen. He died in 1856 after playing forty-one seasons in first-class cricket and obtaining a wicket with the last ball he bowled.
What makes this innocuous-seeming bowler so difficult to handle?