Major William Booth

MAJOR WILLIAM BOOTH, who took more wickets in first-class matches last season than any other bowler, was born at Pudsey on December 10, 1886. He began to play cricket when a boy at Fulneck School, and the first club he played for afterwards was Pudsey St. Lawrence. He was a bowler at school, but for St. Lawrence he gained his place as a batsman. In 1907 he became a regular member of Yorkshire's second eleven, but there was nothing in his performances to suggest first-rate ability. He scored 242 runs with an average of 16, and took 23 wickets. Still, he must have shown a good deal of promise, as in the following year he was given a trial for Yorkshire against Somerset at Dewsbury, this being his first big match. It was not a very happy start as he was out leg-before-wicket for a single and only bowled half-a-dozen overs. Nothing was seen of him in first-class cricket in 1909, and for Yorkshire's second eleven his play, apart from an innings of 98, was quite ordinary. His real career as a county cricketer began in 1910, when he took part in sixteen of Yorkshire's twenty-eight county matches. Though he did nothing remarkable he got on well, scoring 326 runs with an average of 17, and taking 49 wickets for something over 21 runs apiece. At the end of the season Mr. P. F. Warner wrote a short article for Wisden, dealing with the young cricketers of the year who struck him as having shown the greatest promise. He spoke favourably of Booth as a bowler, saying there was something puzzling about his flight, and that he made the ball swerve away at the last moment. In the light of after events this criticism was significant, as qualities of flight and swerve have largely helped Booth to secure the position he now holds in the Yorkshire eleven. In 1911 Booth was greatly handicapped by a strained side, and allowing for this disadvantage he did very well to take 74 wickets in county matches. Moreover he revealed himself as a brilliant batsman, playing a wonderful innings of 210 against Worcestershire, and scoring 1,125 runs. As regards his cricket during the last two seasons I need not here go into details. Sufficient that he has become one of the mainstays of the Yorkshire team. He may fairly be described as a fast bowler, but he has not anything like Hitch's pace. With a free, natural action, he does a good deal at the end of his delivery, and makes the ball come very quickly off the pitch. His off-break, as the Middlesex batsmen found out in August, can be quite formidable, but he does not lean on it to any great extent. Swerve and pace off the ground are his strong points. If his bowling left him he could soon become a first-rate bat, but in Yorkshire's interests it is to be hoped that for the next few seasons he will not take his batting too seriously. His business is to get wickets, as he has not the physique, which has enabled George Hirst to be a crack bat and bowler at the same time.

© John Wisden & Co