Tom Richardson (cricketer)

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Tom Richardson
Tom Richardson 1897cr.jpg
Richardson in 1897
Personal information
Born(1870-08-11)11 August 1870
Byfleet, Surrey, England
Died2 July 1912(1912-07-02) (aged 41)
Chambéry, France
BowlingRight-arm fast
International information
National side
Test debut24 August 1893 v  Australia
Last Test2 March 1898 v  Australia
Career statistics
Competition Tests First-class
Runs scored1773,424
Batting average 11.069.64
Top score25* 69
Balls bowled4,49878,992
Wickets 882,104
Bowling average 25.2218.43
5 wickets in innings 11200
10 wickets in match472
Best bowling8/9410/45
Catches/stumpings 5/–126/–
Source: CricInfo, 23 December 2018

Tom Richardson (11 August 1870 – 2 July 1912) was an English cricketer. A fast bowler, Richardson relied to a great extent on the break-back (a fast ball moving from off to leg), a relatively long run-up and high arm which allowed him to gain sharp lift on fast pitches even from the full, straight length he always bowled. He played 358 first-class cricket matches and 14 Tests, taking a total of 2,104 wickets. In the four consecutive seasons from 1894 to 1897 he took 1,005 wickets, a figure surpassed over such a period only by the slow bowler Tich Freeman. He took 290 wickets in 1895, again a figure only exceeded by Freeman (twice). [1] In 1963 Neville Cardus selected him as one of his "Six Giants of the Wisden Century".

Cricket Team sport played with bats and balls

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a 20-metre (22-yard) pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by striking the ball bowled at the wicket with the bat, while the bowling and fielding side tries to prevent this and dismiss each player. Means of dismissal include being bowled, when the ball hits the stumps and dislodges the bails, and by the fielding side catching the ball after it is hit by the bat, but before it hits the ground. When ten players have been dismissed, the innings ends and the teams swap roles. The game is adjudicated by two umpires, aided by a third umpire and match referee in international matches. They communicate with two off-field scorers who record the match's statistical information.

First-class cricket is an official classification of the highest-standard international or domestic matches in the sport of cricket. A first-class match is of three or more days' scheduled duration between two sides of eleven players each and is officially adjudged to be worthy of the status by virtue of the standard of the competing teams. Matches must allow for the teams to play two innings each although, in practice, a team might play only one innings or none at all.

Test cricket The longest form of cricket

Test cricket is the form of the sport of cricket with the longest match duration, and is considered the game's highest standard. Test matches are played between national representative teams that have been granted ‘Test status’, as determined and conferred by the International Cricket Council (ICC). The term Test stems from the fact that the long, gruelling matches are mentally and physically testing. Two teams of 11 players each play a four-innings match, which may last up to five days. It is generally considered the most complete examination of a team's endurance and ability.


Early career

Richardson was born in Byfleet, England, and first played for his native county in 1892. He showed promise with some strong performances in minor matches, notably fifteen wickets against Essex. [2] However, his first-class record that season was only moderate.

Byfleet inland island village forming a suburb of Woking in Surrey, England

Byfleet is a village in Surrey, England. It is located in the far east of the borough of Woking, around 1.5 miles (2.4 km) east of West Byfleet, from which it is separated by the M25 motorway and the Wey Navigation.

Surrey County Cricket Club English cricket club

Surrey County Cricket Club is one of eighteen first-class county clubs within the domestic cricket structure of England and Wales. It represents the historic county of Surrey and also South London. The club was founded in 1845 but teams representing the county have played top-class cricket since the early 18th century and the club has always held first-class status. Surrey have competed in the County Championship since the official start of the competition in 1890 and have played in every top-level domestic cricket competition in England.

Essex County Cricket Club english cricket club

Essex County Cricket Club is one of eighteen first-class county clubs within the domestic cricket structure of England and Wales. It represents the historic county of Essex. Founded in 1876, the club had minor county status until 1894 when it was promoted to first-class status pending its entry into the County Championship in 1895, since then the team has played in every top-level domestic cricket competition in England. Essex play most of their home games at the County Cricket Ground, Chelmsford and some at Lower Castle Park in Colchester. The club has formerly used other venues throughout the county including Valentines Park in Ilford, Leyton Cricket Ground, the Gidea Park Sports Ground in Romford, and Garon Park and Southchurch Park, both in Southend. Its limited overs team is called the Essex Eagles, whose team colours are all-blue.

With Surrey's bowling mainstay for the previous decade George Lohmann declining rapidly in health, Richardson made a totally unexpected advance to be the second-highest wicket-taker in the country in 1893. Performances of 11 for 95 for Surrey against the touring Australians and 10 for 156 in the third Test, [3] and especially the speed and stamina showed in them, already marked Richardson as one of the game's top bowlers. [4] Although early in the year it was thought by many that his delivery constituted a throw, Richardson worked on straightening his arm and adverse comments were rarely heard again. [5] In 1894, Richardson cemented his reputation with consistent performances: he would have reached 200 wickets but for a thigh strain in June and his average of 10.32 has never been equalled since, [6] whilst his astonishing strike rate of 23 balls per wicket has never been approached subsequently. It was his performances in Australia during the 1894/1895 tour – maintaining speed under hot weather – that attracted attention. In the first Test at the SCG, he bowled 55 overs without losing his speed, and in the last his energetic bowling without help from the pitch directly won England the match.

George Lohmann English cricket player

George Alfred Lohmann was an English cricketer, regarded as one of the greatest bowlers of all time. Statistically, he holds the lowest lifetime Test bowling average among bowlers with more than fifteen wickets and he has the second highest peak rating for a bowler in the ICC ratings. He also holds the record for the lowest strike rate in all Test history.

Australian cricket team in England in 1893

The Australian cricket team in England in 1893 played 31 first-class matches including 3 Tests.

Sydney Cricket Ground stadium in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

The Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) is a sports stadium in Sydney, Australia. It is used for Test, One Day International and Twenty20 cricket, as well as Australian rules football, rugby league football, rugby union, and association football. It is the home ground for the New South Wales Blues cricket team, the Sydney Sixers of the Big Bash League and the Sydney Swans Australian Football League club. It is also the temporary home of the Sydney Roosters of the National Rugby League and the NSW Waratahs of Super Rugby, during the redevelopment of the Sydney Football Stadium. It is owned and operated by the Sydney Cricket Ground Trust that also manages the Sydney Football Stadium located next door. Until the 44,000 seat Football Stadium opened in 1988, the Sydney Cricket Ground was the major rugby league venue in Sydney.

The following year saw Richardson go from strength to strength both in dry weather and when the pitches became treacherous after mid-July. Despite having to bowl 8,491 balls at a great pace, he never showed any sign of losing his form and set a new record in taking 290 wickets (bettered only by Tich Freeman, a slow bowler, in 1928 and 1933). In 1896, Richardson's bowling at Lord's dismissed Australia for 53 and won England the match. During the following Test at Old Trafford, which England lost by three wickets, after bowling 390 balls in the first innings in perfect batting conditions (taking seven for 168), when Australia were set 125 to win on a pitch showing no sign of wear, Richardson was able to bowl 178 balls without a rest, take six for 76 and almost win England a seemingly lost game. It is said that he did not bowl one bad ball during this spell of three hours and J.T. Hearne dropped a catch off his bowling when Australia were 99 for 7.

Tich Freeman English cricketer

Alfred Percy "Tich" Freeman was an English first-class cricketer. A leg spin bowler for Kent County Cricket Club and England, he is the only man to take 300 wickets in an English season, and is the second most prolific wicket-taker in first-class cricket history.

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.

Neville Cardus recorded the scene when Australia crept home by three wickets: "His body still shook from the violent motion. He stood there like some fine animal baffled at the uselessness of great strength and effort in this world... A companion led him to the pavilion, and there he fell wearily to a seat." David Frith suggests the truth was somewhat more prosaic. Richardson was the first off the field and had sunk two pints before anyone else had their boots off.

Neville Cardus English writer

Sir John Frederick Neville Cardus, CBE was an English writer and critic. From an impoverished home background, and mainly self-educated, he became The Manchester Guardian's cricket correspondent in 1919 and its chief music critic in 1927, holding the two posts simultaneously until 1940. His contributions to these two distinct fields in the years before the Second World War established his reputation as one of the foremost critics of his generation.

David Edward John Frith is a cricket writer and historian. Cricinfo describes him as "an author, historian, and founding editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly".

Although he was not required on a wet wicket in the last Test (and nearly withdrew over a pay dispute), Richardson was named a Cricketer of the Year and in 1897 took 273 wickets at the same cost as in 1895. In the four consecutive seasons 1894 to 1897 he took 1,005 wickets, a figure unequalled by any fast bowler before or since. [7]

The Wisden Cricketers of the Year are cricketers selected for the honour by the annual publication Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, based primarily on their "influence on the previous English season". The award began in 1889 with the naming of "Six Great Bowlers of the Year", and continued with the naming of "Nine Great Batsmen of the Year" in 1890 and "Five Great Wicket-Keepers" in 1891.


Richardson was chosen to tour Australia in 1897/1898, but this was where his successful years ended. Richardson was always a heavy drinker, but around this time the habit became unmanageable and his weight began increasing, thus reducing his speed and stamina. He produced one great performance on the disappointing 1897/1898 tour with eight wickets for 94 in the first innings of the fifth Test, but as soon as he returned to England his decline was plain for all to see. Indeed, in the first two months of the season Richardson accomplished almost no performance of note, and even when he improved from the beginning of July onwards, Surrey could no longer rely on him to bowl over after over on the extremely true Oval pitches; his body could no longer carry the workload of previous years. In a few games late in the season at the Oval, against Yorkshire (when Surrey inflicted that county's biggest defeat) and Warwickshire (when he took a career-best 15 for 83 on a pitch offering no help), he appeared as potent as the bowler of 1897. Nevertheless, his haul of wickets in the County Championship fell from 237 to 126 and their cost from about 14 runs per wicket to over 21.

Later career

Prevented from playing the first few games by injury and unable to contain his excessive drinking and increasing weight, Richardson declined still more sharply in 1899. Though after returning to the Surrey eleven he produced some impressive performances (notably against Kent at the Oval), Richardson failed to take 100 wickets for the season. As a result, he was out of the running for Test selection, and the benefit Surrey gave him for his service between 1893 and 1897 was much less lucrative than everybody had hoped despite Surrey winning the Championship.[ citation needed ]

However, Richardson showed some improvement in 1900, increasing his haul of wickets from 98 to 122 and taking 14 wickets for 185 runs at Leyton, whilst in 1901 on the best of wickets almost throughout the year he took 159 wickets including impressive performances against the South Africans (11 for 125) and Yorkshire (7 for 105 in one innings). The following two summers were all against fast bowlers, and Richardson naturally suffered. He remained a strenuous worker, and when helped by the pitch (as at Sheffield in 1903) Richardson could still show glimpses of the great mid-1890s bowler. Nonetheless, it was clear to all who observed him that his weight would catch up with him soon, and in 1904 Richardson bowled so ineffectively that he was dropped at the end of May and not re-engaged by Surrey at the end of the year.

At the time he lived in Bath, and played once for Somerset in 1905, but it was clear from his failure then that he could no longer play serious cricket. His weight gain, combined with a congenital heart abnormality, resulted in a fatal heart attack at the age of 41, whilst on a summer walking holiday in Chambéry, France. According to a number of sources (including Herbert Strudwick), he had been in good health and spirits before leaving England. A widespread rumour that he had committed suicide was disproved by research carried out by Ralph Barker. [8] Richardson was buried in Richmond Cemetery. [9]

Honoured by Wisden

In the 1963 edition of Wisden Cricketers' Almanack , Richardson was selected by Neville Cardus as one the Six Giants of the Wisden Century. [10] This was a special commemorative selection requested by Wisden for its 100th edition. The other five players chosen were Sydney Barnes, Don Bradman, W G Grace, Jack Hobbs, and Victor Trumper.

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  1. Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, 2008 edition, p322.
  2. Pardon, Sydney H. ed. (1913) John Wisden’s Cricketer’s Almanac . Jubilee Edition; part I, p. 197
  3. "3rd Test: England v Australia at Manchester, Aug 24–26, 1893". espncricinfo. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  4. Pardon, Sydney H. ed. (1894) John Wisden’s Cricketers’ Almanac. 31st edition
  5. Pardon, Sydney H. ed. (1913) John Wisden’s Cricketer’s Almanac . Jubilee Edition; part I, p. 157
  6. Webber, Roy ed. (1951) The Playfair Book of Cricket Records. Haymarket Books. p. 173.
  7. Wright, Graeme ed. (1987) Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. pp. 157–158 ISBN   0-947766-08-1, see also List of first-class cricket records
  8. Ralph Barker, Ten Great Bowlers, Chatto and Windus, 1967, pp123-126.
  9. Meller, Hugh; Parsons, Brian (2011). London Cemeteries: An Illustrated Guide and Gazetteer (fifth ed.). Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press. pp. 290–294. ISBN   9780752461830.
  10. Six Giants of the Wisden Century Neville Cardus, Wisden Cricketers' Almanack , 1963. Retrieved on 8 November 2008.

Further reading

Keith Booth. Tom Richardson: A Bowler Pure and Simple. ACS Publications. 2012. ISBN   978-1-908165-190