George Wootton


WOOTTON, GEORGE, the famous Notts bowler of years gone by, died at Ruddington on June 15. Born at Clifton, Notts, on October 16, 1834, he was thus in his ninetieth year. Inasmuch as George Wootton gave up cricket when he retired from Lord's after the season of 1873 he was only a name to the present generation, but old cricketers will remember him as one of the most successful left-handed bowlers of his day. He played his first match for Notts in 1861 and was in the eleven till 1871, but though always a valuable member of the team he did not as a bowler for his county approach the feats of Jackson, J. C. Shaw, Alfred Shaw and Morley. His fame rests on what he did for the M.C.C., and more especially the M.C.C. at Lord's. Learning the game before the law was altered, he bowled with a round arm action, and without being very fast, was well above medium pace. In his early days the wickets at Lord's--rough, rather bare, and sometimes not too carefully rolled--presented difficulties with which modern batsmen rarely or never have to contend. I do not think that Wootton, though irreproachable in length and quite untiring, was a very difficult bowler on other grounds, but at Lord's for several years he was a veritable terror. Perhaps his comparatively low delivery helped him, but from all I can read no one ever bowled so many shooters. It was no uncommon experience for a batsman to get two of them in an over of four balls. No wonder R. A. H. Mitchell said that playing Wootton at Lord's was his sorest trial in the cricket field. Jimmy Grundy found Lord's in the first half of the'sixties just as much to his liking as Wootton did, and in combination the two bowlers did wonderful things. Some variations of form in 1864, due wholly to differences in the grounds, were astounding. Mitchell's Oxford Eleven hit up a total of 439 against Grundy and Wootton at Oxford, but in the second innings of their return match at Lord's the two bowlers rattled them out for an ignominious total of 44. Again, in the same season Wootton and Grundy bowled Middlesex out for 20 at Lord's, but a week later, at the long-since-demolished Cattle Market ground at Islington, the county scored 411 against them. George Wootton took all ten wickets in an innings for the All-England Eleven against Yorkshire in 1865, but with regard to that feat, the fact is generally overlooked that Yorkshire put a very poor side into the field, George Anderson, Iddison and Rowbotham, for some reason, being away. No professional attached to the M.C.C.'s ground staff at Lord's was ever better liked than Wootton, and it was entirely at his own wish that he retired in 1873--the year in which he had his benefit. He was then under forty, but he preferred farming to cricket. Still, in his retirement, he did not wholly lost his interest in the game. In 1921 he was present at the Test match at Trent Bridge and watched the play without wearing glasses.

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