Frank Rowbotham Foster

MR FRANK ROWBOTHAM FOSTER was born at Small Heath on January 31st, 1889. There are some cricketers whose natural aptitude for the game is so great that directly the opportunity comes they jump into the front rank. In this select band Mr. Foster may clearly be given a place. Nothing was known of him outside local cricket till the season of 1908, when in five matches for Warwickshire he took twenty-three wickets, but two years later he bowled in such form for the Gentlemen against the Players at the Oval, Lord's, and Scarborough, that the best judges did not hesitate to describe him as one of the England cricketers of the future. I believe that Tyldesley, playing against him in 1909 at Birmingham, was one of the first batsmen to proclaim the fact that a new left-handed bowler of exceptional quality had been discovered. Though Foster scored 574 runs for Warwickshire in 1910, he was up to the end of that year regarded as little more than a bowler. Last summer he improved out of all knowledge as a batsman, and was, by general consent, the best all-round player of the year. Moreover, he became captain of Warwickshire, and had the satisfaction of leading his county to victory in the Championship. It is an old story now that just after accepting the captaincy he announced his impending retirement from the game. Happily for Warwickshire, and for English cricket in general, he was induced to reconsider his decision. The season was one long triumph for him, and, as a matter of course, he was asked to go to Australia. Just as these pages were going through the Press his bowling was one of the main factors in winning a Test Match at Melbourne. What the future may have in store for Foster it is of course impossible to say, but he has already done enough for fame. From what I have seen of him, I should be inclined to say that he is a higher class bowler than batsman. Though very brilliant and blessed with great confidence, he does not play quite straight and takes too many risks to be ranked yet awhile amongst the masters. His bowling is another matter altogether. It is quite distinctive and individual. With an easy natural action, he has a decided swerve, and he possesses the sovereign merit of making speed from the pitch. His pace in the air is quite ordinary, but he comes off the ground with a rare spin, and in that lies his chief virtue. Leaving D.W. Carr out of the question, his style being so dissimilar as to make comparison impossible, no English amateur bowler of such class has come forward since Knox enjoyed his meteoric success in 1906. While Foster was making so many runs last season I feared that his bowling would suffer, but so far he has with impunity done the work of two men. Everything is possible at three and twenty. Cricket at its brightest, is a young man's game, and Foster is the very personification of youthful energy.

© John Wisden & Co