Sam Hargreave

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Sam Hargreave
Sam Hargreave c1905.jpg
Personal information
Born22 September 1875
Rusholme, Lancashire, England
Died1 January 1929 (aged 53)
Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England
BattingLeft-handed batsman
BowlingSlow left arm orthodox
International information
National side
Career statistics
Competition First-class
Runs scored1,932
Batting average 9.66
Top score45
Balls bowled52,368
Wickets 919
Bowling average 21.84
5 wickets in innings 74
10 wickets in match18
Best bowling9–35
Catches/stumpings 156/0

Sam Hargreave (22 September 1875 – 1 January 1929) was the most successful bowler for Warwickshire until the success of Foster and Field in winning the 1911 County Championship.

Although the presence of Rhodes and Blythe made higher representative honours always out of his reach, for a couple of years in the early 1900s Hargreave was regarded as the best left arm slow bowler in England apart from Rhodes. [1] His accuracy was always exceptional and on helpful pitches he could spin the ball a great deal. Being faster than Rhodes or Blythe, Hargreave was very difficult to hit and his steadiness made him valuable on the generally very plumb wickets that characterised Edgbaston in fine weather during that era. Hargreave was no batsman, but he was a capable fieldsman at point.

Sam Hargreave played for Lancashire's second eleven in the middle 1890s, but having no opportunity with Briggs so dominant he left the country to qualify for Warwickshire. [2] He first played for Warwickshire in two matches at the tail end of 1899, and did nothing apart from a surprise 44 against Lockwood at his most destructive, which was to remain his second-highest score in first-class cricket. However, he rose very quickly to a permanent place in 1900, and in the following year, in a summer all against bowlers especially on so good a ground as Edgbaston provided in fine weather, Hargreave bowled so well under all conditions that he was in the top ten of the first-class averages. On a helpful pitch Hargreave already showed how difficult he could be with such performances as seven for 50 at Worcester and fourteen for 115 against London County, but he bowled beautifully under all conditions.

In the following two seasons, almost continuously helped by the condition of the pitches, Hargreave went from strength to strength except when mastered completely on perfect pitches against Derbyshire and Surrey in August 1902. It was thought his relatively slight frame could not cope with the heavy workload he had to carry on hard wickets, [1] but Hargreave had his revenge on a sticky Oval wicket the following year, when in the best-known (and biggest) feat of his career he took fifteen for 76 after being initially left out after returning from a tour to New Zealand. Because the first day was blank Hargreave could take his place in the Warwickshire team, and for that year every Warwickshire victory was related to Hargreave's deadly bowling on rain affected pitches:

Heading the County Championship bowling averages (at least among those who bowled a reasonable number of overs) and taking more first-class wickets than anybody except Rhodes, Blythe and Ted Arnold, Hargreave would ordinarily have been chosen as a Cricketer of the Year by Wisden , but the choices of Blythe, John Gunn and Walter Mead left no room for a fourth finger-spin bowler.

However, questions about Hargreave's physical strength re-emerged when in the dry summer of 1904 he was quite out of form, [3] taking only half as many wickets as in 1903 at over twice the cost. However, for the two following years he defied his critics with his tenacity and patience on generally very easy pitches: doing, in the continued absence of Field, a great deal of work on unhelpful pitches, he remained one of the best left-arm spinners in the business. [4] This work, however, took its toll in 1907 when the wickets should have allowed him as good an average as 1903, but Hargreave could no longer spin the ball and averaged as much as 22 runs a wicket for little more than half as many victims as in 1903. In the following year he was often left out of the team and an appalling record of over 30 runs per wicket in the wet summer of 1909 showed Hargreave to be completely past it. Warwickshire did not offer him a contract for 1910.

Always affected by ill-health for the rest of his life, [2] Sam Hargreave died, largely unnoticed, on the first day of 1929. At the time of his death, Hargreave still was the third-highest wicket-taker for Warwickshire behind Field and Howell. Among slow bowlers, only Paine and Hollies have exceeded his tally.

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  1. 1 2 Pardon, Sydney H. (editor); John Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack ; Fortieth edition (1903); p. 113
  2. 1 2 Caine, C. Stewart (editor); John Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack; Sixty-Seventh edition (1930); part i, p. 252
  3. Pardon, Sydney H. (editor); John Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack; Forty-second edition (1905); p. 131
  4. Pardon, Sydney H. (editor); John Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack; Forty-fourth edition (1907); p. 108