Tuesday, November 17th, 2015

Part Three Of Look Back At Worcs Proud History

Part Three Of Look Back At Worcs Proud History

Everyone at Worcestershire CCC has been proud to celebrate the club's 150th Anniversary Year which will reach a climax with a Gatsby Ball in the Graeme Hick Pavilion on December 31.

Now seems an appropriate time to look back at the history of the County via a series of articles on the Worcestershire website during the next few weeks.

Here we feature PART THREE focusing on the period after Worcestershire became members of the County Championship.


It was during the early years of the 20th century that Worcestershire was often referred to as 'Fostershire' with all seven Foster brothers playing for the county.

HK, WL, RE, GN, NJA, MK and BS Foster all performed for Worcestershire from 1892 up until 1934 and several of them played a key role in Worcestershire finishing runners-up in the County Championship in 1907.

They were the sons of Malvern College house master and county committee member, the Rev Henry Foster.

It is understood that his wife Sophiae would bowl to her young sons in the family garden before the Rev Foster put them through their paces.

Fittingly last summer (2014) Worcestershire marked the achievements of R.E. "Tip" Foster – the only man to captain England at cricket and football with the unveiling of a plaque at New Road.

The ceremony marked 100 years since the premature death of R.E.Foster from diabetes in May 1914.

In addition the Foster Trophy, made out of bronze and depicting R. E. Foster playing a stroke, is awarded every year to the winner of the Damian D'Oliveira Academy Player Of The Year award.

R.E. Foster played for Worcestershire from 1899 to 1912 and he and W.L. Foster are the only brothers to score centuries in each innings of a County Championship match – against Hampshire in 1899.

Tip Foster scored 287 on his England debut against Australia at Sydney in 1903 which is still the record debut innings, the highest for England in Australia and the highest in any Test in Sydney until Michael Clarke's 329 against India in 2012.

In addition he scored six goals when England beat Germany 12-0 in 1901 and at Oxford University he won blues in cricket, football, rackets and golf.

Tip was the only one of the brothers to play for England and undoubtedly the most talented but the influence of HK (Henry) Foster with the county should not be under-estimated.

He had played a part with secretary Paul Foley in establishing the Minor Counties competition and skippered Worcestershire to four successive titles.

But he was also captain during the county's formative years as a first class county from the turn of the century through to the end of the 1913 campaign (apart from Tip Foster in 1900 and George Simpson-Hayward in 1911-12).

HK's 12 seasons as captain has never been surpassed at New Road and this tall, upright player is remembered for his scorching off drives.

Outside of the Foster's massive impact, there were other fine players representing the county during this era.

Paceman George Wilson generated significant pace off a short run and picked up 718 wickets between 1899 and 1906 including 100 in a season three times and a best haul of 119 in 1901.

His three hat-tricks included one against the Australians at New Road in 1905.

Then there was the presence of all-rounder Ted Arnold who scored nearly 15,000 runs and returned nearly 1,000 wickets for Worcestershire.

He did the double of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets in a season on four occasions between 1902 and 1905 and won 10 England caps, being part of the tour to Australia in 1903-04.

Robert Burrows was a part of the first County X1 to feature in the County Championship and this fast bowler remained a key member of the team for nearly 20 years and ended up with 894 wickets.

George Simpson-Hayard was the county's leading slow bowler in this period and he earned an England call-up, returning 6-45 on his debut in South Africa.

He was the last of the slow lob (under-arm) bowlers to play for Worcestershire and England.

Prolific batting was provided by Fred Bowley whose 276 against Hampshire at Dudley in 1914 remained the county's highest individual score for many years until overtaken by Glenn Turner in 1982 (and latterly Graeme Hick).

He scored 21,122 first class runs, playing from 1899 to 1923, and was Worcestershire's highest run-scorer until surpassed by Don Kenyon in the 1950s.

Dick Pearson played for the county for nearly a quarter of a century from 1900 and scored 18,750 runs and took 853 wickets.

He did the 'double' in 1923 at the age of 43!

Of course, memories of this era are also tinged with sadness as several Worcestershire players lost their lives or were injured during the Great War and a plaque commenorating those who died in action is also housed at New Road.

The conflict cut short the career of Frank Chester who in 1913 became Worcestershire's youngest century-maker at 17 years and five months.

He lost an arm in the war and became a first class umpire who officiated in 48 Tests.