Percival Mitchell Hornibrook
July 27, 1899, Obi Obi, Queensland
August 25, 1976, Spring Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, (aged 77y 30d)
Left hand bat
Percival Mitchell Hornibrook, who died at Brisbane on August 23, aged 77, was a bowler of whom Australia probably ought to have made more use in the 1920's. Possibly the fact that his State, Queensland, was not admitted to the Sheffield Shield until 1926 made it harder for him to gain recognition. A tall slow-medium left-hander with a loose arm and a good action, he was prepared to open the bowling with swingers and then after a few overs would reduce his pace and begin to spin and flight the ball. He first attracted attention by taking 81 wickets at an average of 9, on a tour of New Zealand in 1920 and many thought he should have been included in the 1921 side to England, which was distinctly weak in slow-wicket bowling, though in the event it not require it.
There was far greater surprise when he was omitted from the 1926 side, and no less a judge than M. A. Noble advocated his inclusion. He would at least have saved Macartney from being bowled to death in the early weeks of the tour and in the vital last Test on a rain-affected pitch he might easily have tipped the scales in Australia's favour. It was not until he was thirty in 1929 that he got a place in the fifth Test against A. P. F. Chapman's side: he was given the new ball and bowled well without spectacular success.
Chosen at last to go to England in 1930, he came second in the bowling averages with 96 wickets at 18.77, but did nothing in the Tests until the last one. Then in the second innings on a turning wicket, his analysis read 31.2-9-92-7 and he had much to do with England losing the match and the Ashes after making 405 in the first innings. But his figures suggest, what good critics confirm, that he bowled far too many bad balls: one indeed said that bogey for a good slow left-hander on that wicket would have been seven for 30. Perhaps had he had longer experience of English conditions he would have been better. At any rate by then he was past his peak--his arm had dropped and he was more full-chested. At the end of the tour he retired from first-class cricket.
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