Joe Darling

JOSEPH DARLING, born on November 21st, 1870, is perhaps as great a left-handed batsman as Clement Hill, but no two players could be more unlike in general style and method. Far more orthodox than his young rival, Darling is a remarkable combination of stolidity and power. His driving, whenever he choose to let himself loose, is tremendous, and no left-handed batsman, at any rate in our time, has possessed quite such a defence. He always gives one the idea of being a great natural hitter, who has rigorously schooled himself to play the steady game. Whether at times he is not inclined to carry caution and stubbornness a little too far is a question which need not just now be discussed. That his methods have answered well can be readily proved by a study of his doings both in this country and in Australia during the last five years. Against Mr. Stoddart's team in the Colonies in 1894-95, he met with a large measure of success, scoring 463 runs in eleven-a-side matches with an average of 38, and when in 1896 he came to England for the first time, he at once established his position, scoring 67 and 35 in the opening match at Sheffield Park and keeping in form all through the tour. He did very little in the three Test matches, but taking the trip right through he had a fine record, making the greatest aggregate of runs and being only second to Gregory in the averages. Against Stoddart's second team in Australia in 1897-98, he was not very far behind Clement Hill in eleven-a-side matches and, came out first in the five Test games, scoring 537 runs with an average of 67. Three times in those five games he made over a hundred, scoring 101 at Sydney in the first match, 178 at Adelaide in the third and 160 at Sydney in the fifth. This 160 was his crowning triumph, Australia winning by six wickets after being set to get 275 in the last innings. In this innings he gave full rein to his hitting power, the way in which he drove Richardson's bowling being described at the time as quite wonderful. Last summer, as captain of the Australian eleven, Darling proved himself not only a great batsman, but also a great leader. He was, of course, fortunate in having such a splendid side under him, but no one could have made better use of exceptional material. Except in two or three matches he was hardly himself as a batsman during the first half of the tour, but in August he was the chief run-getter in the team. He finished up with a bigger aggregate of runs than had ever been obtained before by any batsman touring with an Australian eleven in England.

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