Sir Aubrey Smith

SMITH, SIR CHARLES AUBREY, C.B.E., famous in the world of cricket before making a name on the stage and becoming a universal favourite on the films in comparatively recent years, died on December 20, aged 85, at Beverly Hills, California. Born in London on July 21, 1863, the son of a doctor, C. A. Smith went to Charterhouse School and bowled with such success that it came as no surprise that he gained his Blue at Cambridge when a Freshman in 1882. Four times he played at Lord's against Oxford and, by a remarkable series of coincidences, all of these matches ended with a decisive margin of seven wickets, Cambridge winning three of these interesting encounters. In the 1884 match which Oxford won, C. A. Smith was not out 0 in each innings and took two wickets for 65 runs, but in the other three games he showed his worth. In 1883 he helped C. T. Studd dismiss Oxford for 55 and in the second innings he took six wickets for 78 and Oxford just equalled the Cambridge total 215. He made four catches in the match. His last effort for the Light Blues brought six wickets for 81. His captains were the three brothers Studd and the Hon. M. B. Hawke.

He played for Sussex from 1882 until 1896, with varying regularity, and was captain from 1887 to 1889. For Gentlemen at Lord's in 1888 he and S. M. J. Woods dismissed the last four players for one run scored after A. G. Steel handed the ball to Smith. Each of the Cambridge fast bowlers took two of these wickets and Gentlemen won by five runs. In the match Woods took ten wickets for 76 and C. A. Smith five for 36.

In the previous winter he went to Australia, captaining the side organised by Shaw and Shrewsbury. and in 1888-89 he captained the first English side which went to South Africa. Major R. G. Wharton, the Australian, was manager.

All the matches were against "odds" except two engagements called "English Team v. Eleven of South Africa," but some years afterwards given the description "Tests." During the tour C. A. Smith took 134 wickets at 7.61 each, a modest achievement compared with the 290 wickets at 5.62 credited to John Briggs, the Lancashire left-hander. Smith stayed in South Africa for a time in partnership with M. P. Bowden, of Surrey, a member of the team, as stockbrokers. During this period be captained Transvaal against Kimberley in the first Currie Cup match in April 1890, so initiating a competition which has done much to raise the standard of cricket in South Africa.

Among C. A. Smith's best bowling performances were five wickets for eight runs for Sussex against The University at Cambridge in 1885, and seven for 16 against M.C.C. at Lord's in 1890. A hard-hitting batsman, he scored 142 for Sussex at Hove against Hampshire in 1888. Over six feet tall, he made an unusual run-up to deliver the ball and so became known as "Round The Corner" Smith. Sometimes he started from a deep mid-off position, at others from behind the umpire, and, as described by W. G. Grace, "it is rather startling when he suddenly appears at the bowling crease."

He maintained his love for cricket to the end, Until a few years ago he captained the Hollywood side and visited England for the Test matches, the last time as recently as 1947, when South Africa were here.

He was knighted in 1944 in recognition of his support of Anglo-American friendship. A very good Association outside-right, he played for Old Carthusians and Corinthians.--H.P.

© John Wisden & Co