Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Calder of the Month

Bugger, I thought I was in with a chance of winning this one.

Instead it goes to Harry Calder, the only person to be chosen as one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year without every playing a first class game.

How did he manage it?

During the First World War little serious cricket took place. So much so that the cricket bible Wisden did not nominate its usual five Cricketers of the Year in its 1916 or 1917 editions. (The 1916 volume covered the 1915 season and so on.)

In 1918 and 1919 five Cricketers of the Year were chosen, but they were all public school boys. One of them was Calder, chosen in the 1918 edition, who had taken a lot of wickets for Cranleigh with his spin bowling.

But Harry Calder, unlike the other nine lads (who included the future England captain A.P.F. Chapman), did not go on to play a single first-class game.

There is a remarkable postscript to this story. As Wikipedia tells it:
Calder went back to South Africa with his family when he left school. He was not tracked down until 1994, the year before his death, when the cricket historian Robert Brooke traced him to a nursing home in Cape Town. Calder said he had not known of the honour and had not played cricket since school, more than three-quarters of a century earlier.
At time of his death, says the Wisden site, Calder was the oldest surviving Cricketer of the Year.

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