William Bates

WILLIAM BATES passed away on January 8th at his residence at Lipton. Born on November 19th 1855, he was still a comparatively young man. His career in first-class cricket-exceptionally brilliant while it lasted-was brought to a sudden and very painful close more than a dozen years back. He went out to Australia in the autumn of 1887 as a member of Mr. Vernon"s team, and while practising at the nets, on the Melbourne ground, met with a sad accident. Several members of the English team were on the ground at the time, and a ball hit by one of them struck Bates in the eye with such terrible force that his sight was permanently injured. Thenceforward county cricket for him was out of the question, and some little time after his return to England he attempted, in a fit of despondency, to commit suicide. He recovered his sight sufficiently to play in local matches and do some coaching, but it was of course, a painful experience for him to drop into obscurity at the age of thirty-three, after having been for over ten seasons one of the most popular cricketers in the country. Coming out in 1877, he quickly took a high position in the Yorkshire eleven, and he was still at the height of his powers when he met with his deplorable accident at Melborne. He will be remembered as one of the finest of Yorkshire players. As a batsman he was as brilliant as Ulyett, though he did not possess such varied resources, and, especially during his first few seasons, he was a capital slow, round-arm bowler-commanding, as he did, any amount of spin. His one weakness was in fielding, for while a genuine hard-worker, he had a way at times of missing the easiest of catches. It was only this lack of certainty in his catching that prevented him being chosen in this country to play for England against Australia. On Australian cricket fields he was always a great favourite, and during his visits to the Colonies he did many brilliant things. At Melbourne, in January, 1883, playing for the Hon. Ivo Bligh"s team against the great Australian eleven of 1882, he performed the hat-trick, getting rid of Percy McDonnell, George Giffen, and Bonnor with successive balls. The way in which Bonnor"s wicket was obtained is amusingly described in the Badminton Book. All the Englishmen were desperately anxious that Bates should get his third wicket, and a council of war resulted in a very neat little plan being devised. It was said that Bonnor was sure to play slowly forward at the first ball he received, whatever its length, and on Bates promising to bowl a short-pitched ball on the leg-stump, Walter Read volunteered to stand short mid-on, and gradually creep in towards the batsman. Everything came off as had been anticipated, and Bonnor, having played the ball into Read"s hands, left the wicket lost in amazement that anyone should have ventured to get so near to his bat.

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