MR. R. E. FOSTER was born on the 16th of April, 1878, and was thus a little over twenty-two when he, last summer, sprang so suddenly to the very top of the tree. We can recall no instance of an Oxford or Cambridge batsman making such an extraordinary advance in his last year at the University. The closest parallel, at any rate in recent years, can be found in the career of Mr. F. S. Jackson, but that great cricketer was far more celebrated in 1892-his third year at Cambridge-than Mr. Foster was in 1899. To use a hackneyed phrase, the Oxford captain in the course of a twelvemonth improved out of knowledge. He was a very promising bat during his school days at Malvern, but well as he scored for Worcestershire in 1899, making it will be remembered two separate hundreds against Hampshire at Worcester, he would scarcely at the end of the season have been given a place in the third eleven of England. Last July, after his triumphs in the University match and Gentlemen and Players match at Lord's, he would, had there been occasion to put a representative team into the field against Australia, have secured his place with acclamation. As everyone knows he beat the record in the University match with a score of 171, and then-a feat without precedent in Gentlemen and Players matches-made 102 not out and 136 for the Gentlemen. Moreover, his record for Oxford for the season has never-having regard to the number of innings played-been equalled for either University. Playing for Worcestershire after his great performances at Lord's, he did not quite keep up his form, but he still did well enough, and as allowance must always be made for the importance of the matches in which big scores are obtained, he had some claim at the end of the summer to be regarded as the batsman of the season. His experience, as we have already implied, is altogether different to that of the majority of great University batsmen. R. A. H. Mitchell, C. G. Lyttelton, William Yardley, C. J. Ottaway, Alfred Lyttelton, and A. P. Lucas were almost as good when they first played in the University match as they ever became afterwards. C. T. Studd ripened more slowly, but no doubt was felt when he left Eton that he would do great things. Many fine batsmen have done their best before leaving the Universities, but Mr. Foster-assuming that he can spare time to keep up the game-is very likely only at the beginning of his real career. As a batsman he has almost every good quality-a strong defence, self-restraint when it is needed, a free, attractive style, and truly magnificent hitting powers all round the wicket. Scarcely any one, Ranjitsinhji excepted, hits with less apparent effort, his facility in this respect being due to the possession of wrists that must be marvels of strength and suppleness. Like most of the younger batsmen in these days he has carried the art of pulling to great perfection, but we like better his splendid driving on the off-side, and the safety with which he makes his late cut, a stroke which he brings off in a way peculiarly his own. C. B. Fry, who was in with him for a long time in the Gentlemen and Players match, was especially struck by the way in which he worked some of Walter Mead"s best length balls round to leg for easy fours, watching the ball off the pitch and using a quick turn of the wrist at the last moment, and described him as quicker with his bat than anyone now playing, save Ranjitsinhji. He also said that the performance against the Players gave him a far higher notion of Foster's powers than even the big innings in the University match. It is a pleasure to quote Mr.Fry on a point like this, as no one has a keener appreciation of his contemporaries in the cricket field or a happier way of describing their peculiarities. Mr. Foster does not set much store on his bowling, only going on on rare occasions for a few overs but as a fieldsman he is very brilliant indeed-quite one of the best slips in England at the present time. Like his brothers W. L., and H. K., he practically learnt all his cricket at Malvern, and he was in the Oxford eleven for four years, earning his place as a Freshman in 1897. In that year he scored 27 and 6 against Cambridge in 1898, 57; and in 1899, 21 and 11. In 1897 he was sixth in the Oxford batting with an average of 19; in 1898 third with an average of 22; and in 1899 fifth with average of 29. There was thus little in his University career up to last May to suggest his triumphs in 1900.
JOHN TUNNICLIFFE was born on August 26th 1866, at Pudsey, the day happening to be Feast Sunday in the little Yorkshire town. He played all his early cricket in connection with the Pudsey Britannia Club of which he became a member when he was about sixteen years old. He is not absolutely certain on the point but he believes as that he played for the first eleven before he was seventeen. Of these youthful doings he cannot recall many particulars, but he remembers that he made his first hundred against Armley on his eighteenth birthday. Two years afterwards he played for the Colts of Yorkshire against the County eleven at Sheffield, scoring eleven and not out two and-being something of a bowler in those days-taking two wickets. Albert Ward came out the same year and but for the circumstance of his qualifying for Lancashire and playing for that county in 1889, after having had three trials for Yorkshire in 1886, might for the last dozen seasons have been a colleague of Tunnicliffe's on the Yorkshire eleven. In 1887 Tunnicliffe played for the Yorkshire Colts against the Notts Colts but his day had not yet arrived and he heard nothing from the Yorkshire authorities as to making an appearance in the county eleven. He had to wait a considerable time longer for his chance and it was not until the season of 1891 that he gained a place in the Yorkshire team. As he was then twenty-five years old be must be regarded as very late in coming forward. At the same age many famous batsmen, both professional and amateur, had already had a distinguished career to look back upon. Tunnicliffe's first season for Yorkshire was in no way sensational. Everyone realised that with his enormous advantages of height and reach he had possibilities, but he did nothing out of the common, only scoring in all matches for the county 374 runs with the modest average of 13. Tunnicliffe thinks that he first impressed the Yorkshire Committee in this same season of 1891 in a match at Sheffield between the Notts Colts and the Yorkshire Colts. Little Bobby Bagguley-one of the smallest men that ever appeared in first-class cricket-was just coming out for Notts, being then a lad of eighteen, and was looked upon as a bowler of more than ordinary promise. It had been raining hard the day before the match and the wicket was very soft indeed. Tunnicliffe thought the only chance of getting runs on such a pitch was to have a dash and he did, sending Bagguley twice in succession into the little refreshment stand at the left-hand side of the Pavilion and twice hitting him on to the seats. This little innings of 27 was the first revelation of the great hitting power that Tunnicliffe possesses-a power which he always has in reserve no matter how long he may at times repress it. Since the season of 1891 he has never looked back and has been a regular member of the team which, though of course with varying fortune, has so splendidly upheld the fame of Yorkshire cricket. There is no need here to go into statistics. All Tunnicliffe's performances-and they have been many and brilliant-are accessible to those who wish to study them. If asked to describe in a phrase Tunnicliffe's chief peculiarity as a batsman we should say that, like the great Australian left-hander Darling, he is by nature a big hitter, but has rigidly schooled himself to play a steady game. In his early days he was decidedly rash and hit up so many catches in the long field that his brother professionals had more than once to remind him that Bramall Lane was rather bigger than the cricket ground at Pudsey. Last season he was at his very best as a batsman, perhaps combining hitting and defence in better proportion than ever before. The innings that saved the match at Worcester showed his stubborn qualities at their highest development, just as his big score on a soft wicket at Trent Bridge showed to the fullest extent that he could do when a forcing game was demanded. Even if he had not been quite such a good bat Tunnicliffe would have lived in cricket history as the very best short slip of his day. Perhaps no cricketer has in the same position brought off so many wonderful catches. Time stands still for no man, however, and now at the age of thirty-four he does not find it quite so easy as he did to fling himself down at full length and bring off a one-handed catch six inches from the ground. Still, if he cannot stand comparison with himself, he is vastly better at slip than most men who field there.
MR. T. L. TAYLOR, to whom the season of 1900 brought such an enormous increase of reputation, was born at Headingley on the 25th of May, 1878, but curiously enough never played cricket at Leeds until he appeared on the Headingley Ground last August against Middlesex. Two years ago, however, he used to play for Scarborough. He first became known in the cricket world while he was at school at Uppingham, and it may be added here, that he was the last famous batsman who learnt the art of batting under the eye of H. H. Stepheson, that famous coach dying in December, 1896, only a few months after Taylor had left school. The young cricketer was in the Uppingham eleven in 1894, 1895, and 1896, and was captain of the side the last two years. He earned a big reputation at Uppingham both as batsman and wicket-keeper, and in 1896 was the most successful Public School bat of the year, with the wonderful average of 84. It was naturally expected that on going up to Cambridge he would at once get his blue, but a wicket-keeper was not wanted- E. H. Bray being in residence-and he did not play nearly well enough to be picked for batting alone. However, his chance came in the season of 1898, when he received his colours from the hands of his old school fellow C. E. M. Wilson-like himself, curiously enough, a Yorkshireman. Taylor did not do much as a batsman for Cambridge in 1898, having the very poor average of fourteen; but he played a beautiful innings of 70 against Oxford at Lord's, and proved that his school reputation as a batsman had been fairly earned. In 1899 he made a great advance for Cambridge, scoring 343 runs in eight matches with an average of 26. He again played finely in the University match, scoring 52 not out in the second innings, but his great triumph was gained against the Australians, his innings of 110, with Jones, Noble, Howell and Charles McLeod bowling at him, being as nearly as possible perfect. Unfortunately he was hurt in the second innings and had to retire from the match. His form for Cambridge was so good that he was invited, after the University match, to play for Yorkshire, his first appearance for the county being against Leicestershire, at Sheffield, on July 17. He was quite successful, his innings of 42 being spoken of in very high terms. Room was only found for him in the Yorkshire team in two other county matches, in one of which-against Notts at Bradford-he had to keep wicket, but he played against the M. C. C. in the first match of the Scarborough Festival and scored 41. Altogether he scored in four matches for the county 125 runs. This was very fair form, but it certainly did not suggest the great things he did for Yorkshire last summer. In 1900 he was a vastly better cricketer than he had ever been before, and both for Cambridge and his county he proved to demonstration that he was one of the most improved amateur batsmen of the year. His doings for both elevens are described in detail in another part of the Almanack and there is no need here to go at any length into figures, but it may be mentioned that in first-class matches he scored 1,461 runs with an average of 39. As a batsman, Mr. Taylor has many fine qualities, not the least of them being a remarkable power of getting runs on slow and difficult wickets. On this he gave convincing evidence last summer against Surrey at the Oval and Sussex at Brighton. His style is neat and finished to a degree and his driving clean and powerful. As a wicket-keeper he is much above the average, but he probably does not regret that when playing for Yorkshire he is able to give all his attention to batting without having his hands knocked about behind the stumps. As regards other sports than cricket, he is fond of hockey and golf, but is no lover of football. He played the Rugby game once or twice while he was at Uppingham but was so much hacked that he quickly decided to give it up.
GEORGE H. HIRST was born at Kirkheaton, on September 7th 1871. He joined the village club about 1885 and remained connected with it until 1889, in which year the eleven carried off the Lumb Challenge Cup. In the cup ties Hirst did very well as a bowler, and made so good an impression that late in the season he was given a trial for Yorkshire at Huddersfield against Cheshire. In this, his first appearance in anything like good class cricket, he took two wickets but only scored about a half a dozen runs, his batting powers at that time being quite undeveloped. In 1890 he had a professional engagement at Elland, and in 1891 at Mirfield. Then in 1892 he became associated with Huddersfield, and his real career commenced. With local cricket at Huddersfield it may be added he kept up a close connection, till the Yorkshire Committee stopped the members of the county eleven from taking club engagements. It was in 1892 that Hirst became known to the general public, his first match being for Yorkshire against the M. C. C. at Lord's. Without doing anything sensational he yet showed such capital form, both as bowler and batsman, that no good judge who saw the game could doubt that an all-round player of far more than ordinary promise had come forward. He took four wickets for 29 and two for 58, and though so little was thought of his batting that he was sent in last in the first innings, he scored 20 and not out 43. He was then less than twenty-one years of age, but in appearance a small Hercules, and it was quite certain that whether or not his skill as a cricketer developed, he would never fail for want of strength or stamina. The present writer happens to remember the match very well, and can recall vividly the energy with which Hirst bowled at the late William Banes, compelling that brilliant batsman, who scored 61 and 71, to play in each innings an unusually strict game. Still, though his first appearance was such a success, Hirst did not as a batsman do much for Yorkshire in 1892, only scoring in twenty-two matches 243 runs, with an average of ten. Though he tired before the summer was over and lost his place in the eleven, he bowled up to a certain point with excellent results, and in all matches for the county, took 69 wickets for just over 16 runs apiece. In the first-class county matches, however, only seventeen wickets fell to him. For some time after his first season Hirst's career was one of steady progress rather than of brilliant achievement. He proved quite worthy of his place in the Yorkshire eleven, but met with no startling success. Even so early as the season of 1894, however, he made a score of 115 not out, and thus gave an unmistakeable indication that, as afterwards proved to be the case, he would win fame more as a batsman than as a bowler. In 1895, his batting suffered a temporary decline, but he probably bowled better than in any previous or subsequent season, taking 130 wickets for Yorkshire in first-class county matches alone, and 150 wickets for the county in all engagements. In 1896 his position among the leading professionals of the day was firmly established, as in that year he performed the double feat of scoring over a thousand runs in first-class matches, and taking more than a hundred wickets. To be quite exact he made 1122 runs with an average of 28, and took 104 wickets at a cost of something over 21½ runs each. From that time Hirst has only once looked back, but while he has developed enormously as a batsman he has paid the penalty for getting so many more runs by taking fewer wickets, and at the present time he is more of a change than a standard bowler for Yorkshire, having now and then his deadly days, but not bowling with consistent success in match after match. In the winter of 1897-98 he went out to Australia with Mr. Stoddart"s second team, but it cannot be said that he did himself justice in the Colonies. In the eleven aside matches he only scored 338 runs with an average of 28, and his bowling was so utterly ineffective on the beautiful grounds at Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide, that the nine wickets he took cost him over 75 runs each. He was not in particularly good form when he came back to England, and apart from a score of 130 not out he had a poor season for Yorkshire in 1898, but a year later he was quite himself again, batting better for Yorkshire than he had ever batted before. In all matches for the county he scored 1546 runs with an average of 37, only F. S. Jackson and Brown being in front of him. In 1899, moreover, he had the distinction of being picked for England at Trent Bridge in the first of the five test matches against the Australians. Unfortunately he met with no success either as batsman or bowler, but his fielding was so superb as to almost justify his selection. What he did last summer will be found fully set forth in the Almanack in the section devoted to Yorkshire. A better man in a county team than Hirst is at the present time not easy to find. No one plays the game more earnestly, or works more strenuously for his side. Blessed with any amount of pluck and confidence he is just the man to do his best under difficult conditions, and there is scarcely a batsman in England who can hit with greater power and dash on a wicket spoilt by rain. What he can do in the way of pulling on slow wickets must indeed be seen to be believed. His bowling, as we have said, has declined with the advance of his batting, but his fielding remains perfect. It is no exaggeration to describe him as the very best mid-off in the county.
SCHOFIELD HAIGH, was born on March 19, 1871, at Berry Brow-a suburb of Huddersfield, situated about two miles outside the town. After taking part in some school cricket, he threw in his lot, at the age of eighteen, with Armitage Bridge-Moorhouse's old club. At that time a medium-pace bowler, Haigh did well, and before very long came under the notice of Louis Hall. That veteran batsman was then in the habit of taking teams up to Scotland at the close of each summer and on his recommendation, Haigh, was engaged by the Aberdeen Club, with which body he remained for three seasons. He then went to Perth, and it was during his engagement there-which lasted two years-that the Yorkshire authorities first found out what an extremely promising bowler he was. He played for a Scotland team against the Lancashire eleven and the match, as it happened, proved the turning point of his career. The first time he went on to bowl in the game, 63 runs were scored off him before he took a wicket, but after that he carried all before him and finished up with a record of eight wickets for 78. He settled down at Leeds in 1896, and while engaged on the Headingley Ground commenced the connection with the Yorkshire eleven which has since brought him such fame in the cricket field. In a match against Durham, at Barnsley in 1896, he took fourteen wickets for fifty runs, and at the beginning of the following week he was included in the team that met the Australians at Bradford. This was his first opportunity in important cricket and he made the most of it, obtaining in the Australians, second innings eight wickets-five of them bowled down-at a cost of 78 runs. Yorkshire lost the match by 140 runs, but Haigh's position as one of the best young bowlers of the day was firmly established. For the rest of the season he was a regular member of the Yorkshire team and for a few weeks he bowled with conspicuous success, taking twelve wickets against Derbyshire at Sheffield, eleven against Warwickshire at Harrogate and doing good work in several other matches. Towards the close of the Summer the strain of three-day matches told on him, but for all that he came out first in the Yorkshire bowling for the season with 84 wickets for little more than fifteen runs apiece. From 1896 to the present time he has, as everyone knows, been one of the mainstays of the Yorkshire eleven, but his career as a bowler has not been one of unmixed success. Indeed, in 1897, 1898, and 1899 he scarcely fulfilled the hopes formed of him in his first season, and, though doing good work, seemed to be going back rather than forward. In the three years he took in County matches alone 70, 88 and 79 wickets, but his average was never so good as it had been in 1896. Last season, however, he jumped to the top of the tree and among the county bowlers of the year had, on results, no superior except his colleague Wilfred Rhodes. The two bowlers worked splendidly together and did more than anyone else to carry off the Championship for Yorkshire. His improvement was probably due in some measure to the fact that he modified the tremendous plunge with which he used to finish his delivery. Be this as it may, he certainly seemed to bowl with greater comfort to himself than in previous seasons. Technically a medium-pace to fast bowler Haigh commands a good variety of speed, and when the ground helps him his off break is, in the opinion of a good many batsmen, almost unplayable, the ball pitching outside the off stump and often hitting the leg stump, this doing more than the width of the wicket. Those who were behind his arm in the Pavilion at the Oval in August during Surrey's sensational second innings saw him at his deadliest. Haigh as a cricket is far more than a mere bowler, being a capital hard-working field and a resolute bat with a happy knack of making runs when the position is critical. This faculty was never more strongly revealed than in Yorkshire's match last July, at Worcester, when he helped Tunnicliffe to save Yorkshire from what had looked like an impending defeat.