Albert Edward Relf
June 26, 1874, Burwash, Sussex
March 26, 1937, Wellington College, Crowthorne, Berkshire, (aged 62y 273d)
Right hand Bat
Right arm Medium fast, Right arm Offbreak
Albert Edward Relf, one of the best all-round cricketers of his time and extremely popular man, shot himself on March 26. The cause for such a sad act was attributed to poor health and depression due to the serious illness of his wife; he died a wealthy man.
After making a name with Norfolk, Albert Relf played first for Sussex, the county of his birth, in 1900, when in his 26th year, and he was one of the mainstays of his side twenty-one years later, when, at Horsham, he scored 153 against Leicestershire. After the War, owing to his coaching duties at Wellington, where he succeeded his father, he could not play regularly until the School holidays. In 1921 he came out second in the batting and first in the bowling averages; he took his benefit match and finished his county career.
In first-class matches for Sussex, Relf scored 18,089 runs with an average of 27.32 and took 1,584 wickets at 21.10 runs apiece. He was nearly forty when he was included in Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year, his figures for 1913 season, in which he earned the distinction, being 1,846 runs, average 32, and 141 wickets at 18 runs apiece.
In his first season for Sussex, Relf shone chiefly as a batsman, but his bowling gradually improved and in 1903 he headed the county averages. His work created such an impression that he was picked for the first team which toured Australia under the auspices of the M.C.C. The very powerful side captained by P. F. Warner won the rubber and Relf in the first Test helped R. E. Foster in a ninth wicket stand of 115.
On his return to England, Relf displayed his true form and from that time never looked back. He was very unfortunate in not being chosen more than once to play against Australia in England. On this occasion, at Lord's in 1909, he took five wickets for 85 runs in an innings of 350. In the ordinary course of events he would have been picked for England in the three subsequent matches, but S. F. Barnes stepped into the team at Leeds and another right-handed bowler of medium pace was not required. Relf went to South Africa in the winters of 1905 and 1913 and also appeared in Gentlemen and Players matches.
Few bowlers were so difficult to play on a wicket the least bit crumbled. Taking a short run with an easy, natural delivery, Relf possessed perfect command of length and could keep an end going all day without fatigue. He spun the ball very quickly off the pitch. Relf always looked first-rate as a bowler, but his style of batting gave rather a false idea of his powers. No one seeing him for the first time would think him capable of scoring hundreds in high class company for in defence he let the ball hit the bat in a way not impressive to the eye. Yet season after season he made as many runs as men who looked greatly his superior. Relf was a brilliant fieldsman in the slips, and so a great all-round cricketer.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Batting & Fielding