Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Frank Tarrant (in full Francis Alfred Tarrant; born December 11, 1880, Melbourne, Australia; died January 29, 1951, Melbourne) was an Australian all-rounder who played with great success for Middlesex in the County Championship in the years before World War I.
His record is sufficient to establish Tarrant as one of the best cricketers never to play a Test match, though he could never be considered after his move to Middlesex in 1903 according to the rules of the time, for he moved back and forth to play occasionally with Victoria.
Tarrant first played for Victoria in 1898/1899, and met with little success either as a batsman or a bowler then or in 1900/1901.
However, he moved to England in 1903 to join the Lord's ground staff and played a number of matches for the MCC whilse qualifying for Middlesex. In these, he showed himself developing into a left-arm spinner of above average pace but with nothing beyond steadiness when pitches did not help him. In 1904, he showed development as a solid right-handed batsman, whilst in 1905, when fully qualified, he was a valuable aid to Middlesex. his superb batting on a difficult pitch to draw the game with Essex at Leyton showed he was a player of exceptional resolution during the most difficult crisis.
In 1906, whilst his bowling was impotent on the rock-hard wickets prevailing in the Home Counties for most of the season, Tarrant was unplayable on rain-affected pitches at Old Trafford and in Yorkshire, and he scored 1000 runs for the first time.
1907 saw Tarrant take a leap into cricket's elite, with his batting, at least for three months, marking him as a player of remarkable patience even if he failed to use all the strokes he was capable of playing. Whilst he lacked sting when pitches were hard, on rain-affected pitches Tarrant could turn the ball extremely quickly from a perfect length. This was seen at its clearest when he took nine for 59 against Nottinghamshire at Lord's - some of the batsmen said they "had never seen a finer piece of bowling". For the whole season Tarrant took 183 wickets for 15.70 each and scored 1552 runs with an average of 32.
That winter, Tarrant returned to Australia and in six matches scored 762 runs for an average of 76, including 159 against the touring MCC team and 206 against New South Wales at the SCG. Between 1908 and 1914, he was always one of the best all-rounders in the game - a safe catcher, a patient and skilful batsman, and a deadly bowler when the wicket was helpful and steady when it did not. In 1911 he achieved the rare feat of scoring 2000 runs and takin 100 wickets, whilst his performance of taking 16 for 176 followed by 101 not out against Lancashire in 1914 remains one of the greatest all-round feats in county cricket. That same year, he scored a brilliant 250 not out at Leyton after Johnny Douglas had put Middlesex in to bat on a rain-affected pitch. As he scored 200 against Worcestershire in the following match, he accomplished the remarkable feat of scoring two successive double-hundreds. With J.W. Hearne he forged a partnership that, almost single-handed, allowed Middlesex to come second to Surrey.
During the war, Tarrant played in India, and his bowling was unplayable on the matting wickets against weak batting, whilst in 1918/1919 he achieved the incredible feat of scoring a century and taking all ten wickets in an innings.
Tarrant continued to organise touring teams to India after the war, and only played rarely outside India. However, he managed to make 78 in one match as late as 1936/1937, when he was fifty-seven, and he umpired England's first two Tests on Indian soil, as well as several other MCC matches on that tour.
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