Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Wilfred Rhodes (born October 29, 1877, North Moor, Kirkheaton , near Huddersfield, Yorkshire; died July 8, 1973, Branksome Park , Bournemouth) was one of the greatest cricketers of the twentieth century. Whilst his career evolved through a great many distinct stages, his record for Yorkshire and England is sufficient to place him as one of the very greatest all-round cricketers of all time. Unusually, he batted right-handed but bowled left arm. Some remarkable achievements of his career include:
- Most first-class matches (1110).
- Most County Championship matches (763).
- Highest aggregate of first-class wickets (4187).
- Most times 100 wickets in a season (23, including three over 200)
- Most times the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in a season (16 between 1903 and 1926)
- Twelve County Championship winning teams for Yorkshire between 1898 and 1925.
- First Englishman to achieve the "double" of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in Test cricket and second overall (after George Giffen ); first person to achieve 2000 runs and 100 wickets in Test cricket.
Early career - amazing bowling feats in dry summers
In 1897, Yorkshire suffered a severe blow when they could not discipline their champion left-arm spinner Bobby Peel and were forced to sack him. Rhodes, then a teenager, had shown great promise both as a right-handed batsman and a left-arm spin bowler, and Yorkshire took him into their eleven for the first match of 1898.
It was remarkable how the youngster, with his amazing accuracy and ability to turn the ball, developed over the following few years. In his first season Rhodes took 154 wickets - the third highest aggregate after J.T. Hearne and Tom Richardson, and easily the most by any bowler in his debut season - and was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year. Though he played a few good innings, his ability as a batsman was not yet "discovered" and he went in very late in the order. In 1899, Rhodes' vicious spin, seen generally as being more vicious than Peel's, was deadly on the wet pitches of May and after the thunderstorms that occasionally punctuated the very hot and dry weather of the summer, and he was again among the leading wicket-takers. He played in his first Tests that year, (his first test match, on June 3, was W. G. Grace's last) but the skilful Australian batting, led by Victor Trumper meant he met with little success.
It was in 1900, when Yorkshire won the first of three consecutive County Championships, that Rhodes' amazing skill and accuracy really came to the fore. Helped early and late in the season by soft pitches, the real highlights of Rhodes' season came on the hard pitches in the middle of the season, when his skill against batsmen such as Fry and Jessop gave Yorkshire some superb victories. Yorkshire's batting strength and depth, even with some batsmen below their best, was sufficient to allow them to remain unbeaten. For the season, Rhodes took an amazing 261 wickets, and on occasions showed he had ability as a batsman, as in a brilliant victory over a strong Sussex batting side on an excellent wicket at Sheffield. In 1901, Rhodes' ability to take advantage of the slightest help afforded him by the pitch, together with the amazing all-round cricket and unique "swerve" of George Hirst (also born in Kirkheaton, took Yorkshire to the most conclusive win in County Championship history. They were over forty percent ahead of second-placed Middlesex, and suffered only one, amazing defeat at the hands of lowly Somerset after Rhodes and Schofield Haigh had given Yorkshire a big first innings lead after an early collapse. Rhodes took 251 wickets for just over 15 runs each and Hirst 183 for less than 17 each: an amazing feat in probably the most batsman-friendly summer before covered pitches. Against the MCC, Rhodes hit a maiden century, and his batting average was 26 - amazing for someone who went in second-last!
Developing into a consummate all-rounder
In 1902, Rhodes participated in probably the greatest Test series of all time against the touring Australians. Aided by a bad wicket, he took 7 for 17 in the first Test, and helped Hirst win the last Test by one wicket after a hurricane innings by Jessop. Despite taking 213 wickets for 13 each, Rhodes had set such a high standard that, helped by the wettest season of his career so far, it was thought he should have done better! This line was repeated after the equally wet summer of 1903, but that was the year Rhodes first showed the ability as a batsman noticed before he joined Yorkshire. On soft pitches in both matches with Nottinghamshire, Rhodes gave the best displays of his career so far, and as a makeshift opener, he carried his bat against the MCC. Touring Australia with the MCC in 1903/1904, Rhodes had a memorable tour. Aided by a record wet summer in Melbourne, he took 15 for 124 (despite eight dropped catches), and despite still going in last, added 130 with Tip Foster for the last wicket in Sydney. Between 1904 and 1906, though overshadowed by the astonishing Hirst, Rhodes continued to develop as a batsman and did the "double" in each of these years. He rapidly moved up the order for Yorkshire and scored a maiden double century against Somerset in 1905. By this time his batting was truly solid and dependable, and he could be courageous, as shown when facing the Lancashire fast bowlers during 1905: in the second game his batting virtually decided the Championship. From 1906, with Yorkshire having problems in batting due to the loss of F.S. Jackson, Rhodes regularly opened that batting, and despite being no longer the bowler he was on the rock-hard wickets of southern England that summer, he remained deadly when pitches helped him despite trying to develop a higher flight.
Rhodes toured Australia in 1907/1908, but it was a disappointing tour in often appallingly hot weather, especially as a bowler.
Opening the batting for England
After a moderate season in 1908, Rhodes enjoyed perhaps his greatest ever year in 1909. Not only did he bowl as well as ever, he was only twenty runs shy of being the leading run-getter of the season - an amazing advance for someone who once went in last or second last! His aggregate of 2094 runs was a remarkably display of skill and tenacity on a succession of rain-affected pitches. With England's batting in a crisis, Rhodes went in first wicket down in the last Test and made 66 and 54, and opened with Jack Hobbs on the winter's tour of South Africa, where he was only modestly successful against the "googly" bowlers. Despite one wonderful all-round performance against Surrey - in which he mastered the otherwise irrepressible Razor Smith on an exceptionally bad pitch - 1910 was disappointing, but in 1911 Rhodes batted so well he reached his highest aggregate and was chosen for the tour of Australia as a regular opening batsman. Though his bowling failed so much that he did not take a wicket in the Tests, his partnerships with Hobbs were invariably superb both in this series and the 1912 Triangular Tournament. At the MCG, Rhodes batted seven hours for a wonderfully careful 179, whilst at Lord's and The Oval the following year the pair's skill on wet pitches helped established England's clear superiority over Australia. Rhodes maintained his form until the war halted county cricket, even howing some traces of his old form as a bowler in 1914 with 118 wickets for 18 each.
Irrepressible in county cricket - hopeless in Australia
With Yorkshire in desperate need of bowling in 1919 after the tragic deaths of Major Booth and Alonzo Drake , Rhodes moved down the batting order (with Herbert Sutcliffe and Percy Holmes forming an amazing partnership as openers) to concentrate once more on bowling. He was so successful in county cricket that he averaged under 13 for the next five years and his average in 1923 was the lowest for any bowler between 1895 and 1957. At the same time, Rhodes maintained his batting so well that by the end of 1924 he had completed a thousand runs for eighteen consecutive years. With George Macaulay , Abe Waddington and Roy Kilner , Yorkshire had a bowling combination that, even on good wickets, tied opposing batsmen down so well that most failed completely, whilst on wickets at all helpful, it was invariably unplayable. In his forties, Rhodes (like J.T. Hearne) had the most marvellous accuracy, but it was always thought he had lost a lot of the spin of the period from 1898 to 1902.
Yet, in Australia in 1920/1921 Rhodes' bowling was remarkably innocuous. He took only four wickets for 61 each in the Tests! This ineffectiveness characterised many county bowlers of the time, and shows how Rhodes' average reflects the fact that so many county sides were first-class only in name during the period - largely because they had not the money to attract the professionals the top counties could, and top amateurs were almost never able to play. His batting showed severe faults against fast bowling during 1921, so that, despite his remarkable county record, he was left out of the Tests after the first.
Last days as a player
In 1925, Rhodes was required so little as a bowler that he only too 57 wickets, but, despite the decline of all Yorkshire's other bowlers the following year, Rhodes, incredibly at the age of forty-eight, bowled so well that he headed the first-class averages with several remarkable performances, notably 14 for 77 against Somerset at Dewsbury and 7 for 116 against Lancashire on a pitch that defeated all other bowlers. With his batting continuing at its former level, Rhodes was recalled for the last Test at the Oval, and bowled so well that he took six wickets for 79 runs and gave England the Ashes for the first time since 1912.
In 1927, a sign of Rhodes' age was seen with his aggregate of runs halving - he did not reach fifty in the Championship - and his bowling falling from an aveage of 13 to one of 20. However, his amazing accuracy - which only grew by age - still made him deadly on helpful wickets despite loss of spin, and in 1928 Rhodes was once again Yorkshire's leading bowler. Early the following year Rhodes took an amazing 9 for 39 on a sticky Leyton wicket, during which he took his 4000th first-class wicket - a feat now impossible to equal. He also achieved the amazing analysis of 35 over, 29 maidens, 11 runs, no wickets at Trent Bridge in July that year - in a game left without a first innings result after three full days. In that game Rhodes showed a glimpse of his old skill as a batsman and helped Percy Holmes play the longest innings in County Championship history. That winter, Rhodes played in several "Tests" (then called by the more appropriate title of Representative Matches because the team was equivalent to modern "England A") in the West Indies and became the oldest Test player ever at over fifty-two years (being 52 years and 165 days at the end of the last match on April 12, 1930).
In 1930, Rhodes played in the early matches with only moderate success either with bat or ball, and with Hedley Verity coming into the team in July and heading the first-class bowling averages, he was in and out of Yorkshire side and announced he would retire at the end of the year. His last first-class match was for H.D.G. Leverson Gower's XI against the Australians on September 10 to 12 1930. He finished his career with an excellent performance of five for 95 against a strong batting side. After 1930, he became cricket coach at Harrow School until World War II.
He was blind by 1945, but continued to attend cricket matches regularly, claiming to be able to follow everything from the sounds. Appropriately, he died during a test match (against the West Indies) being played at his favourite ground of Headingley.
Few cricketers have performed consistently for so long. This goes far to explaining his unsurpassed career aggregates of wickers and doubles. His durability is emphasised by his status as the oldest ever test player. He is one of only four people (together with W. G. Grace, Frank Woolley and George Hirst) to score 30,000 runs and take 2,000 wickets in a career. He also took 764 catches, the seventh highest total ever. Only he and Hirst have scored 20,000 runs and taken 2,000 wickets in the County Championship.
He played in a total of 58 test matches, taking 127 wickets. His stand of 323 with Sir Jack Hobbs at Melbourne in 1911 is still the highest stand for England for the first wicket in an Ashes series test, and his stand of 130 with Reginald Foster at Sydney in 1903 is still the highest for England for the last wicket in any test match, proof of his ability to bat as an opener and a tail-ender.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details