Reginald Spooner

MR. REGINALD HERBERT SPOONER.-Every now and then the public schools produce a batsman who strikes all competent judges as being potentially a great player. Lovers of cricket whose memories go back far enough will not need to be told what was thought of R. A. H. Mitchell, C. G. Lyttelton (now Lord Cobham), and Alfred Lubbock, at Eton; C. F. Buller, and A. J. Webbe, at Harrow; Yardley and Pauncefote, at Rugby; and A. G. Steel, at Marlborough. Their form at school was so exceptional that no doubt was felt as to their success when they found their way into first-class cricket. Coming down to later days MacLaren, when he played his first match for Harrow as a boy of under sixteen, clearly foreshadowed his subsequent fame. Among the public school batsmen of the last ten years there has assuredly been no one to compare with R. H. Spooner. His performances in 1899-his last season at Marlborough-were as good as those at the same age by any of the famous players whose names have been mentioned. He made an immense impression by scoring 69 and 198 against Rugby at Lord's and a fortnight later on the same ground he appeared for Lancashire, playing against Middlesex. It was no small trial for school batsman to face Albert Trott at his best, but Spooner was more than equal to the occasion, his scores of 44 and 83 being obtained in such irreproachable form that opinion was unanimous as to a new star in the cricket world having been discovered. On all hands it was agreed that there had been no public school batsman of the same class since MacLaren left Harrow. After 1899 nothing was seen of Spooner in the cricket field for three years, about half that time being spent in military duty in South Africa during the War, and there seemed reason to fear that he would be permanently lost to the game. Happily circumstances arose which admitted of his taking up cricket again, and, as everyone knows, he returned to the Lancashire eleven in 1903. What he has done since then need not be detailed. In no way affected by his three years' absence he settled down at once to county cricket as comfortably as though there had been no check in his career and, judging from his form during the past season, there is no young batsman with a better chance in the immediate future of being picked for England against Australia. He was asked to go to Australia as a member of the M.C.C.'s Team, but owing to the claims of business, had very reluctantly to decline the invitation. In point of style there are few batsmen of the present day to compare with him. Not even L. C. H. Palairet himself-usually regarded as the most graceful player of this generation-is better worth looking at. Style in batting is not thought so much of as it was years ago, but it certainly makes for the enjoyment of those who spend their summer afternoons in watching cricket matches. Spooner is a good all-round hitter, but the great feature of his game is his superb off-driving. This was so in his school days, and though he has, of course, learnt a great deal since he left Marlborough, his favorites stroke remains unchanged. Like most batsmen he is seen at his best when the sun shines and the pitch is firm, but as the records in Lancashire matches during the past two seasons prove he is far more than a mere hard-wicket player. His fielding is quite on a level with his batting. Indeed, it would be difficult at the present time to name a more brilliant cover-point. He was born near Liverpool, on October 21st, 1880.

© John Wisden & Co