Richard ('Dick') Barlow


BARLOW, RICHARD GORTON, who had been in failing health for some months, died on July 31, at his home at Blackpool in his 70th year. Unlike many famous professional players who have helped to make Lancashire great in the cricket field, Barlow belonged to the county by the closest of ties. He was born at Barrow Bridge, Bolton, on May 28, 1850. Cricket was from first to last the absorbing interest of his life. He played the game from early boyhood and long after his active career had ended--so recently indeed as 1914--he expressed his willingness to meet any man of his age at single wicket. He was then full of vigour and seemed to have many years of healthy life in store for him. He played his first match for Lancashire at Sheffield in 1871 and his last in 1891, both games, curiously enough, being against Yorkshire. Making a good start, he scarcely knew what it was to have a set-back till the time came for him to retire from the county eleven. No county ever had a more zealous worker. He kept himself in such first-rate physical condition that he was always capable of doing his best and no day was too long for him. As an all-round man he was one of the best of his day. He stood first among the batsmen of the extremely steady or stonewalling school, and even if he had not been able to get a run he would for his bowling and fielding have been worth a place in almost any eleven. In batting he used forward play for purposes of defence to an extent unknown in these days, but his judgment of length was so perfect, and his eye so sure that bowlers found it a terribly hard job to bowl him out. In the ordinary way he was not a batsman one would have journeyed ten miles to see, but when he opened a Lancashire innings--as he did hundreds of times--with Mr. Hornby, he became a figure of extreme interest. His defence and his captain's brilliancy formed a combination fascinating to all lovers of cricket. Of his doings for Lancashire with bat and ball one could write pages. Some of his best feats are set out in detail below. As a bowler--left-hand medium pace--he placed implicit faith in accuracy of length and sent down very few bad balls, but he could not be described as at all mechanical. He was full of resource, he always had a fair amount of spin, and he was quick to discover a batsman's weak points.

Barlow played seven times for England against Australia in this country--at the Oval in 1882 and at Lord's, the Oval, and Manchester, in 1884 and 1886. He made no big score in these matches, but his partnership with A. G. Steel was the turning point of the game at Lord's in 1884, and at Manchester, in 1886, his steadiness pulled us through when the Australian bowlers were in deadly form on a slightly crumbled wicket. Moreover he took seven wickets for 44 runs in Australia's second innings. In 1884 at Trent Bridge, for the North of England against the Australians, Barlow played the game of his life. He scored not out 10 and 101 and took ten wickets--four for six runs and six for 42. It is on record that when the North started their second innings on a slow and nasty wicket, Spofforth said, Give me the ball: they won't get more than 60. As events turned out they got 255, Barlow and Flowers putting on 158 runs together after five wickets had fallen for 53. At the end of that afternoon Barlow was a very happy man. Barlow paid three visits to Australia, going out with Shaw and Shrewsbury in 1881-82, with the Hon. Ivo Bligh (now Lord Darnley), in 1882-3, and again with Shaw and Shrewsbury in 1886-87. The climate evidently suited him for in the three tours he did not stand out of a single match. A very appreciative notice of Barlow in the Manchester Guardian ended with the following statement: In private life Barlow was a quiet, chatty, neighbourly man. He was thoroughly content with the world and with his own place in it, as a confession he once made shows:--'I don't think that any cricketer has enjoyed his cricketing career better than I have done, and if I had my time to come over again I should certainly be what I have been all my life--a professional cricketer.'

© John Wisden & Co