Greville Stevens

Last updated

Greville Stevens
Personal information
Born(1901-01-07)7 January 1901
London
Died19 September 1970(1970-09-19) (aged 69)
London
BattingRight-handed batsman (RHB)
BowlingLeg break
International information
National side
Career statistics
Competition Tests First-class
Matches10243
Runs scored26310376
Batting average 15.4729.56
100s/50s0/112/55
Top score69182
Balls bowled118632625
Wickets 20684
Bowling average 32.4026.84
5 wickets in innings 229
10 wickets in match15
Best bowling5/908/38
Catches/stumpings 9/0214/0
Source:

Greville Thomas Scott Stevens (7 January 1901 – 19 September 1970) was an English amateur cricketer who played for Middlesex, the University of Oxford and England. A leg-spin and googly bowler and attacking batsman, he captained England in one Test match, in South Africa in 1927. He was widely regarded as one of the leading amateur cricketers of his generation who, because of his commitments outside cricket, was unable to fulfil his potential and left the game early.

Contents

Stevens was an outstanding schoolboy cricketer, whose exploits at University College School brought him to the attention of Middlesex, for whom he made his debut in 1919 while still at school. He won cricket blues at the Oxford in each of the years 1920 to 1923, and was captain of the university side in 1922. He played for Middlesex between 1919 and 1932, and appeared altogether in 10 Test matches. The first of these was against South Africa in 1922–23, the last against the West Indies in 1929–30. He was a member of the side that regained the Ashes from Australia in 1926.

Had he been able to devote himself more fully to cricket, Stevens's overall first-class record would, in the view of commentators, have been more impressive. After he left Oxford in 1923, his cricket appearances became increasingly intermittent, and in 1932, at the age of 31, he gave up the first-class game altogether, although he played in occasional minor matches until 1947. He served as an officer in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the Second World War.

Cricket career

School, Middlesex debut and Oxford

University College School in the early 20th century Ucspainting.JPG
University College School in the early 20th century

Stevens was born and grew up in Hampstead, North London, where he attended University College School. [1] There, he began to show considerable talent as a cricketer, as a bowler of leg-breaks and googlies, and this was recognised in 1918 when Wisden , widely regarded as the "bible of cricket", [2] named him as one of "Five School Bowlers of the Year". [3] [n 1] In the following season, 1919, he created a batting sensation by scoring 466 runs for Beta House v. Lambda House, in an internal school match. [5] This feat attracted the attention of Middlesex County Cricket Club, who drafted him into their side to play Hampshire at Lord's on 9–10 June 1919. [1] [6] On his county debut Stevens took 10 Hampshire wickets in the match, including 7 for 104 in their first innings. [7] Stevens held his place in the Middlesex XI for the remainder of the season, and was chosen to play for the Gentleman in the prestigious Gentlemen v. Players fixture at Lord's – an almost unprecedented honour for a schoolboy cricketer. [1] In the match he scored 24 and 11, and took 1 wicket for 62 runs. [8]

In the autumn of 1919 Stevens entered Brasenose College, Oxford. [5] In his first match for the University, against Warwickshire, he took 5 for 35 in the county's first innings. [9] He was a regular member of the side for each of his four years' residence, the batting highlights of which were two centuries scored in 1923: 115 against the MCC, [10] and 182 (his best first-class score) against the West Indies touring side. [11] He gained his cricket "blue" in 1920, his freshman year, and in each of the following three years, and was captain in 1922. His performances in the University matches against Cambridge were modest until his final year, 1923, when his bowling – he took 6 for 20 in the Cambridge first innings – played a significant part in Oxford's overwhelming victory that year. [1]

In all, Stevens played 40 matches for Oxford University, scoring 2,484 runs with two centuries, for a batting average of 38.81. He took 146 wickets for a bowling average of 19.91, and held 54 catches. [12] [13]

Middlesex and England

County

While at Oxford, Stevens played for Middlesex when the university term was over, and helped the county to win the County Championship title in 1920 and 1921. [1] In 1922 he recorded the best bowling figures of his career, 8 for 38, for Middlesex against Hampshire, at Portsmouth. [1] [14] After leaving Oxford, the need to earn a living affected his availability to play regular cricket for Middlesex; his appearances became less frequent, and in 1928 and 1929 he did not appear for the county at all. [6] [n 2] He managed almost a full season in 1931, [6] when he made his highest score for the county – 170 not out against Warwickshire at Edgbaston, [12] [15] and appeared regularly in the first part of the 1932 season, but at the end of June withdrew from the side and played no more county cricket. That was end of his first-class career, except for a couple of festival games in 1933. [6]

For Middlesex, Stevens played 127 matches between 1919 and 1932. He scored a total of 5,434 runs for the county, including 7 centuries, for a batting average of 30.18. He took 385 wickets, with a bowling average of 27.41, and held 107 catches. [12] [13]

England

While still at Oxford, Stevens was invited to go to South Africa with the 1922–23 MCC touring side under Frank Mann. [16] [n 3] The team played a series of five Test matches against the South African side; Stevens played in the first of these, at the Wanderers ground, Johannesburg, beginning on 23 December 1922. He made little impression on the game, and did not feature in the rest of the Test series. [18] [19]

Stevens's next Test opportunity came in 1926, in the fourth Test against Australia. During the match England's captain, Arthur Carr, was taken ill and had to withdraw. A stand-in captain was required; at the time, practice and tradition suggested the choice of an amateur. Thus, as the only other amateur in the team, Stevens might have been asked to fulfil this role. However, he was the youngest and least experienced in a side that included several veteran professionals. The selectors broke with the amateur captain tradition and chose Jack Hobbs, who accepted but only after first offering to defer to Stevens. [20] [21] The match was drawn, as had been the previous three; Stevens kept his place for the decider at The Oval, which England won and thus regained the Ashes. [22] [23] [n 4]

These two matches against Australia were Stevens's only Test appearances in England. [18] He made two further MCC tours: to South Africa again in 1927–28, under R.T. Stanyforth, [24] and to the West Indies in 1929–30, under Freddie Calthorpe. [25] In South Africa, Stevens played in all five Tests, unproductively except for a score of 69 in the third Test at Durban. [24] [26] For the fifth Test of the series Stanyforth was unfit, and Stevens assumed the England captaincy for this one match, which was lost. [27] In the West Indies he played in two Tests, in the first of which he took ten wickets: 5 for 105 and 5 for 90 – his best bowling performance in Test cricket. [1] [28]

Stevens played in 10 Tests altogether, scoring 263 runs, average 15.47, and taking 20 wickets, average 32.40. He also held 9 catches. [1]

Other matches

Alongside his county and Test appearances, Stevens played regularly for the Gentlemen, for whom he scored two centuries in Gentlemen v. Players matches. [12] He often turned out in the end-of-season Scarborough Festival matches, for various sides. [6] In early 1932 he went with Lord Tennyson's XI to Jamaica, and played in three representative matches, all of which were won by Jamaica. [29] In the first of these, Jamaica scored 702 for 5 declared (George Headley 344 not out); Stevens's bowling figures were 2 for 194. In the second match, however, Stevens recorded one of his best bowling analyses, taking 8 for 87 in the Jamaicans' first innings. In the third game Stevens achieved figures of 3–199 in Jamaica's first innings, but came close to winning the match for Tennyson's XI with 4 for 63 in the second innings. [30]

First-class record

In all first-class cricket, Stevens played in 243 matches. He scored 10,376 runs, average 29.56, with 12 centuries, highest score 182. He took 684 wickets, average 26.84, best analysis 8 for 38, and held 213 catches. [1]

Later life

After his first-class cricket career was over, Stevens played in occasional minor matches, including several for The Forty Club in 1938–39. [31] After the Second World War in which he served as a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve officer, [32] he toured The Netherlands with the Free Foresters side, in August and September 1947 when he was 46 years old. [31] He died at his home in Islington on 19 September 1970. [1]

Stevens was widely regarded as one of the finest amateur cricketers of his time. [1] [33] However, like other prominent amateurs of his era such as Gubby Allen and Douglas Jardine, he had to arrange his cricket around the demands of his working life. In his case this eventually proved too difficult, hence his early departure from the game. [34] Commentators accept that, had he been able to spare more time for cricket, he would have improved his career record considerably. Alan Gibson, in his history of the England Test captaincy, comments on his modest Test figures: "[T]his is not sufficient evidence to say he would have been a poor Test player, had he been able to give himself more opportunities". Whether he would have proved a successful England captain, Gibson adds, is equally hard to say. [33]

Notes and references

Notes

  1. In the absence of first-class cricket during the First World War, Wisden suspended its regular "Five Cricketers of the Year" feature after 1915. In 1918 and 1919 a version of the feature, relating to public schools cricket, was introduced as an interim measure. [4]
  2. From 1924 to 1930 Stevens's appearances for Middlesex were: 1924, 14; 1925, 9; 1926, 9; 1927, 6; 1928, 0; 1929, 0; 1930, 6. [6]
  3. At that time, and until 1976–77, England toured under the aegis of the MCC, and played their matches as "MCC" except for the Tests, which they played as "England". [17]
  4. Hobbs was not retained as captain for the final Test, nor was Carr; instead, the captaincy was given to another young amateur, Percy Chapman. [21]

Citations

Sources

Books

  • Gibson, Alan (1989). The Cricket Captains of England. London: The Pavilion Library. ISBN   978-1-851-453955.
  • Wilde, Simon (2013). Wisden Cricketers of the Year: A Celebration of Cricket's Greatest Players . London: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN   978-1-4081-40840.
  • Wilde, Simon (2019). England: the Biography. London: Simon & Schuster. ISBN   978-1-4711-5485-0.

Online

Matchcards



Related Research Articles

Courtney Walsh Jamaican cricketer

Courtney Andrew Walsh OJ is a former Jamaican cricketer who represented the West Indies from 1984 to 2001, captaining the West Indies in 22 Test matches. He is a fast bowler, and best known for a remarkable opening bowling partnership along with fellow West Indian Curtly Ambrose for several years. Walsh played 132 Tests and 205 ODIs for the West Indies and took 519 and 227 wickets respectively. He shared 421 Test wickets with Ambrose in 49 matches. He held the record of most Test wickets from 2000, after he broke the record of Kapil Dev. This record was later broken in 2004 by Shane Warne. He was the first bowler to reach 500 wickets in Test cricket. His autobiography is entitled "Heart of the Lion". Walsh was named one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1987, and one of the West Indian Cricket Cricketer of the Year a year later. In October 2010, he was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. He was appointed as the Specialist Bowling Coach of Bangladesh Cricket Team in August 2016.

Lords Cricket venue in St Johns Wood, London

Lord's Cricket Ground, commonly known as Lord's, is a cricket venue in St John's Wood, London. Named after its founder, Thomas Lord, it is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and is the home of Middlesex County Cricket Club, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), the European Cricket Council (ECC) and, until August 2005, the International Cricket Council (ICC). Lord's is widely referred to as the Home of Cricket and is home to the world's oldest sporting museum.

Albert Trott Australian cricketer

Albert Edwin Trott was a Test cricketer for both Australia and England. He was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1899. He is believed to be the only batsman to have struck a ball over the top of the Lord's Pavilion. He is also one of only two players to take two hat-tricks in the same first-class innings, the other being Joginder Rao. Despite his notability, having played in 375 first-class matches including 5 Tests, he was almost penniless when he committed suicide at the age of 41.

Walter Robins English cricketer

Robert Walter Vivian Robins was an English cricketer and cricket administrator, who played for Cambridge University, Middlesex, and England. A right-handed batsman and right-arm leg-break and googly bowler, he was known for his attacking style of play. He captained both his county and his country; after the Second World War, he served several terms as a Test selector.

Gubby Allen English cricketer

Sir George Oswald Browning "Gubby" Allen CBE was a cricketer who captained England in eleven Test matches. In first-class matches, he played for Middlesex and Cambridge University. A fast bowler and hard-hitting lower-order batsman, Allen later became an influential cricket administrator who held key positions in the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), which effectively ruled English cricket at the time; he also served as chairman of the England selectors.

Fazal Mahmood Pakistani Test cricketer

Fazal Mahmood, was a Pakistani cricketer. He played in 34 Test matches and took 139 wickets at a bowling average of 24.70. The first Pakistani to pass 100 wickets, he reached the landmark in his 22nd match.

Percy Fender English cricketer

Percy George Herbert Fender was an English cricketer who played 13 Tests and was captain of Surrey between 1921 and 1931. An all-rounder, he was a middle-order batsman who bowled mainly leg spin, and completed the cricketer's double seven times. Noted as a belligerent batsman, in 1920 he hit the fastest recorded first-class century, reaching three figures in only 35 minutes which remains a record in 2021. On the basis of his Surrey captaincy, contemporaries judged him the best captain in England.

A. P. Lucas English first-class cricketer (1857-1923)

Alfred Perry "Bunny" Lucas was an English first-class cricketer from 1874 to 1907, playing for Cambridge University, Surrey, Middlesex and Essex. He also played five Test matches for England.

Roy Kilner English cricketer

Roy Kilner was an English professional cricketer who played nine Test matches for England between 1924 and 1926. An all-rounder, he played for Yorkshire County Cricket Club between 1911 and 1927. In all first-class matches, he scored 14,707 runs at an average of 30.01 and took 1,003 wickets at an average of 18.45. Kilner scored 1,000 runs in a season ten times and took 100 wickets in a season five times. On four occasions, he completed the double: scoring 1,000 runs and taking 100 wickets in the same season, recognised as a sign of a quality all-rounder.

Errol Holmes English cricketer

Errol Reginald Thorold Holmes, was a cricketer who played for Oxford University, Surrey and England.

Leslie Hylton Jamaican cricketer

Leslie George Hylton was a Jamaican cricketer, a right-arm bowler and useful lower-order batsman who played in six Test matches for the West Indies between 1935 and 1939. In May 1955 he was hanged for the murder of his wife, whom he had shot in a jealous rage a year earlier.

Tim Murtagh Irish cricketer

Timothy James Murtagh is an English-born Irish cricketer. He is a left-handed batsman and a right-arm fast-medium bowler. He represented England in the 2000 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup.

Charles Clarence Passailaigue was a Jamaican cricketer who played one Test for West Indies in 1930.

Eric Leslie Kidd

Eric Leslie Kidd was an English-born Irish cricketer. A right-handed batsman and leg spin bowler, he played 147 first-class cricket matches, mostly for Middlesex, and played for the Ireland cricket team on six occasions.

1864 was the 78th season of cricket in England. It was a significant year in cricket history, as it saw the legalisation of overarm bowling and the first edition of John Wisden’s Cricketers’ Almanac.

Tom Ormsby Jameson was an Irish first-class cricketer. A right-handed batsman and right-arm fast and leg spin bowler, he played just twice for the Ireland cricket team between 1926 and 1928 in first-class matches, but played 124 first-class matches in all, mainly for Hampshire and the MCC.

The West Indies cricket team toured England in 1933, playing three Test matches, losing two of them and drawing the other. In all, the side played 30 first-class matches, winning only five and losing nine.

Malcolm Jardine

Malcolm Robert Jardine was an English first-class cricketer who played 46 matches, mainly for Oxford University. Although his first-class record was not impressive, he scored 140 in the University Match of 1892 using an unorthodox batting method. He played a few matches for Middlesex but later went to work in India, in effect ending his English first-class career. He played first-class cricket in India for the Europeans and after a successful legal career, returned to England. His son Douglas went on to play cricket for Oxford, Surrey and England, captaining the latter two and being associated with the use of Bodyline bowling.

George Headley West Indian cricketer

George Alphonso Headley OD, MBE was a West Indian cricketer who played 22 Test matches, mostly before the Second World War. Considered one of the best batsmen to play for the West Indies and one of the greatest cricketers of all time, Headley also represented Jamaica and played professional club cricket in England. West Indies had a weak cricket team through most of Headley's playing career; as their one world-class player, he carried a heavy responsibility and the side depended on his batting. He batted at number three, scoring 2,190 runs in Tests at an average of 60.83, and 9,921 runs in all first-class matches at an average of 69.86. He was chosen as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1934.

Bernard Bosanquet (cricketer) English cricketer

Bernard James Tindal Bosanquet was an English cricketer best known for inventing the googly, a delivery designed to deceive the batsman. When bowled, it appears to be a leg break, but after pitching the ball turns in the opposite direction to that which is expected, behaving as an off break instead. Bosanquet, who played first-class cricket for Middlesex between 1898 and 1919, appeared in seven Test matches for England as an all-rounder. He was chosen as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1905.