John Crossland

John Crossland.--The death on September 26th of Crossland--at one time the most talked-of bowler in England--recalled a very lively controversy that disturbed the cricket world in the eighties. A Nottingham man by birth, Crossland qualified for Lancashire by residence, and appeared first for the county in 1878. Three years later, when Lancashire stood at the head of the counties, he began to assert himself, and in 1882 he was beyond doubt the most effective fast bowler in England. His pace was tremendous, and even the best batsmen rather dreaded him. Outside Lancashire, however, his delivery was generally condemned, the majority of experts having no hesitation in describing him as a rank thrower. But for this feeling as to his action he would in all probability have been picked for England in the memorable match at the Oval when the Australians--thanks to Spofforth and Boyle--won by seven runs. Crossland was passed by the umpires, but all through the season of 1882 his bowling was the subject of discussion, among those who thought him unfair being Thomas Horan and other members of the Australian eleven. At the same time there were other Lancashire bowlers who did not escape criticism, and the upshot was that Middlesex in 1883 and Notts in 1884 declined to make fixtures with Lancashire. Naturally, a great deal of ill-feeling was aroused, and on one occasion at the Oval a demonstration against Crossland so enraged Mr. Hornby that he was with difficulty persuaded to finish the match. The climax of the controversy was reached in 1885, when Kent, after appearing at Manchester, refused to play their return match with Lancashire on the ground that that county employed unfair bowlers. In taking this step Kent were guided by their captain, Lord Harris, who explained his position in a letter to the Lancashire committee. So far as Crossland was concerned the quarrel suddenly came to an end on a different issue altogether, it being ruled by the M. C. C.--after full inquiry--that by living in Notts during the winter he had broken his qualification, and had no longer any right to play for Lancashire. This ended his career in first-class cricket, but he continued to play in small matches, and only gave up the game about four years ago.

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