Cricketers of the year

Vernon Ransford

VERNON SEYMOUR RANSFORD, whose success last season was only less remarkable than that of Bardsley, was born at South Yarra, on the 20th March, 1885

VERNON SEYMOUR RANSFORD, whose success last season was only less remarkable than that of Bardsley, was born at South Yarra, on the 20th March, 1885. Unlike Bardsley he did not make a sudden jump to the top of the tree, his position among Australian batsmen being far more slowly won. Even at the outset of his career, however, a great deal was thought of him, for Carpenter, who had coached him at Melbourne, told me four years ago that he might well have been brought to England with the team of 1905. I may add that of Carpenter's teaching Ransford cannot say too much. He thinks that the Essex cricketer helped him enormously. No doubt, however, Ransford was a very apt pupil, for in his last year at Hawthorn College he scored over 1,000 runs. He has cause to remember his first appearance in a big match, as he was a member of the Victorian eleven dismissed by Rhodes and Arnold, at Melbourne, in February, 1904, for 15 - still the smallest total on record in first-class cricket in Australia. In the following season he revealed himself as one of the most promising batsmen in Victoria, making 80 not out against South Australia and a big score of 152 against Queensland. However, in the season of 1905-6, he suffered a disheartening set back, doing little or nothing in the Inter-State matches. Not till February, 1907, did he reassert himself, an innings of 136 in Gregory's benefit match, at Sydney, showing that he had recovered his form. From that day to the present time he has met with ever-increasing success. He played consistently good cricket against the M.C.C.'s England Eleven in the season of 1907-8, averaging 32 in the five Test Matches with 54 as his highest score, and making 102 not out for Victoria. In the Inter-State matches he did even better than this, scoring 109 against South Australia, and 129 against New South Wales. The Englishmen were much impressed by his batting and still more by his magnificent fielding. On returning home they were unanimous in saying that he was one of the new men certain to be included in the next Australian team in England. If there had been any doubt on the point Ransford settled it during the Australian season of 1908-9. Far surpassing anything he had ever done before he had a bigger average than either Bardsley or Noble. He hit up 171 not out against South Australia, and in the return with New South Wales-a match of unprecedented scoring in first-class cricket-he made two separate hundreds-182 and 110. His doings for the Australians in this country last summer need not be set out here, as they are given in another part of the Almanack. Enough that he exceeded the most sanguine expectations and scored 1,783 runs with the remarkable average-in such a wet summer-of 43. If it were possible to add to 1,783 the number of runs he saved we should get a true idea of his value in the Australian team. No safer catch or more untiring worker in the deep field has ever been seen. As a batsman he has not Bardsley's grace of style, nor does he when getting a big score suggest Bardsley's complete mastery over the bowling. Still, judged by results, there was not very much to choose between the two men. Ransford does not drive nearly so much as Bardsley, but he is quite as strong on the leg side and in hitting past cover-point. The strength of his defence was never revealed more fully than in the Test Match at Leeds, when at the start of the Australians' second innings Hirst was making the ball swerve. For many overs it was a desperate fight between batsman and bowler, but the batsman won.