A retrospective celebration

Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack has long carried details of schools cricket. As far back as 1865, the second edition included an account of Eton v Harrow.

Averages from individual schools have appeared since 1887, a sequence unbroken – even by war – until last year, when the pandemic intervened. However, Wisden has named the leading schools cricketer for every year back to 1900.

In 2007, the Almanack introduced a new award, the Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year. The aim was to help raise the profile of schools cricket. The first winner was Jonny Bairstow, the second James Taylor, the third Jos Buttler. The most recent winner, Tawanda Muyeye, has just been signed by Kent.

Each year’s winner is chosen on the basis of his or her performance in schools cricket, as reported in Wisden. The only criteria for a school’s inclusion are that it must not be age-restricted, and must have a sixth form, and a fixture list of an acceptable standard. There are notable exceptions, but the majority of schools featured are from the independent sector, reflecting the paucity of cricket in state schools and colleges, a trend Wisden is keen to help reverse.

Wisden’s schools correspondent, Douglas Henderson, along with the editor, Lawrence Booth, and his editorial team have selected winners for every year from 1900 to 2006 based solely on the schools averages in the Almanack.

George Knight, who in 1939 scored 1,250 runs and took 89 wickets for Victoria College, Jersey, is now 100 years old. He was delighted to be told about his award 81 years later. In a tribute to mark his 100th birthday last August, the Jersey Evening Post said he was “the most outstanding all-round cricketer this island has produced”.

Highlights and stats

Including the 13 formal winners since 2007, there are 120 Wisden Schools Cricketers of the Year from 1900 to 2019. Nine players have won it twice: all played county cricket, and seven played Tests for England:

N. W. D. Yardley (St Peter’s School, York) 1933–34

P. J. Dickinson (King’s College School, Wimbledon) 1936–37

T. E. Bailey (Dulwich College) 1941–42

J. G. Dewes (Aldenham School) 1943–44

M. C. Cowdrey (Tonbridge School) 1949–50

P. D. Johnson (Nottingham High School) 1968–69

C. J. Tavaré (Sevenoaks School) 1972–73

H. Morris (Blundell’s School) 1981–82

A. N. Cook (Bedford School) 2002–03

Among the 111 players who have won the award in the 120 years, 90 went on to play first-class cricket, 79 county cricket, and 28 Test cricket. Of the Test players, 25 played for England, nine as captain.

Tonbridge School has the most winners: H. M. Bannister (1908), F. H. Knott (1910), M. C. Cowdrey (1949, 1950), D. R. Aers (1965), C. S. Cowdrey (1975). They are followed by Brighton College and Felsted School, with four each. Dulwich College also has four winners, including Trevor Bailey’s double.

The Cowdreys (Colin and Chris) are one of two father and sons to win the award. Jack Leiper (1938) and Rob Leiper (1979) both won it for their performances for Chigwell School.

Ian Botham didn’t win, but his son Liam did (for Rossall School in 1994).

Two brothers have also won the award, Mark Crawley (1986) and John Crawley (1989), both for Manchester Grammar School, which features three times in five years: Mike Atherton won in 1985.

Individual records for school seasons in the British Isles, as recorded by Wisden

The most runs scored in a school season is 1,623 by Iain Sutcliffe for Leeds Grammar School in 1993. The second-highest aggregate was also in 1993 – 1,613 by Glyn Treagus for King Edward VI School, Southampton.

The most wickets in a school season is 134 by Francis Farrelly for Stonyhurst College in 1913. The most wickets in a school career (for the First XI, and recorded in Wisden) is 473, across eight seasons (1962–69) by Peter Johnson for Nottingham High School.

Eleven players have done the double of 1,000 runs and 50 wickets in a season since 1900, including Mike Atherton (Manchester Grammar School) in 1984 and Bazid Khan (Brighton College) in 1999. But only one player is recorded in Wisden as having scored 1,000 runs and taken 100 wickets in a season – Bob Barber for Ruthin School in 1953. Barber went on to play 28 Tests (1960–68).

WISDEN SCHOOLS CRICKETERS OF THE YEAR 1900-2019

1900E. W. DillonRugby School 
1901J. E. RaphaelMerchant Taylors’, Northwood 
1902S. A. TrickMerchant Taylors’, Northwood 
1903G. T. BranstonCharterhouse 
1904H. C. TebbuttThe Leys School 
1905J. N. CrawfordRepton School 
1906C. GimsonOundle School 
1907G. H. FrancisChatham House School 
1908H. M. BannisterTonbridge School 
1909P. G. H. FenderSt Paul’s School 
1910F. H. KnottTonbridge School 
1911F. C. W. NewmanBedford Modern School 
1912F. W. H. NicholasForest School 
1913F. J. FarrellyStonyhurst College 
1914A. E. R. GilliganDulwich College 
1915A. D. DentonWellingborough School 
1916J. D. Wyatt-SmithSherborne School 
1917G. T. S. StevensUniversity College School 
1918N. E. PartridgeMalvern College 
1919A. T. LayFettes College 
1920G. J. BryanWellington College 
1921L. S. H. SummersEmanuel School 
1922R. E. H. HudsonHaileybury College 
1923K. S. DuleepsinhjiCheltenham College 
1924R. W. V. RobinsHighgate School 
1925M. J. L. TurnbullDownside School 
1926S. A. BlockMarlborough College 
1927L. R. W. SalmonAllhallows School 
1928E. IngramBelvedere College, Dublin 
1929J. H. CameronTaunton School 
1930D. F. SurfleetUniversity College School 
1931C. R. N. MaxwellBrighton College 
1932N. S. Mitchell-InnesSedbergh School 
1933N. W. D. YardleySt Peter’s School, York 
1934N. W. D. YardleySt Peter’s School, York 
1935G. E. HewanMarlborough College 
1936P. J. DickinsonKCS, Wimbledon 
1937P. J. DickinsonKCS, Wimbledon 
1938J. M. LeiperChigwell School 
1939G. W. KnightVictoria College, Jersey 
1940H. E. WattsDownside School 
1941T. E. BaileyDulwich College 
1942T. E. BaileyDulwich College 
1943J. G. DewesAldenham School 
1944J. G. DewesAldenham School 
1945P. D. S. BlakeEton College 
1946I. P. CampbellCanford School 
1947P. B. H. MayCharterhouse 
1948M. J. D. BowerRadley College 
1949M. C. CowdreyTonbridge School 
1950M. C. CowdreyTonbridge School 
1951R. G. WoodcockWorcester Royal GS 
1952R. A. GaleBedford Modern School 
1953R. W. BarberRuthin School 
1954G. W. CookDulwich College 
1955P. J. SharpeWorksop College 
1956R. A. G. LuckinFelsted School 
1957C. D. DrybroughHighgate School 
1958Nawab of PataudiWinchester College 
1959D. I. YeabsleyExeter School 
1960E. J. CraigCharterhouse 
1961M. G. GriffithMarlborough College 
1962M. D. MenceBradfield College 
1963R. K. PaullMillfield School 
1964R. W. ElvissLeeds Grammar School 
1965D. R. AersTonbridge School 
1966C. JohnsonPocklington School 
1967D. R. Owen-ThomasKCS, Wimbledon 
1968P. D. JohnsonNottingham High School 
1969P. D. JohnsonNottingham High School 
1970B. R. WeedonKing’s School, Canterbury 
1971W. SnowdenMerchant Taylors’, Crosby 
1972C. J. TavaréSevenoaks School 
1973C. J. TavaréSevenoaks School 
1974P. G. InghamAshville College, Harrogate 
1975C. S. CowdreyTonbridge School 
1976I. R. PayneEmanuel School 
1977D. R. PringleFelsted School 
1978J. W. SlingsbyAbingdon School 
1979R. J. LeiperChigwell School 
1980A. SeymourPlymouth College 
1981H. MorrisBlundell’s School 
1982H. MorrisBlundell’s School 
1983M. A. RoseberryDurham School 
1984N. J. LenhamBrighton College 
1985M. A. AthertonManchester Grammar School 
1986M. A. CrawleyManchester Grammar School 
1987H. A. M. MarcellineBishop’s Stortford College 
1988N. ShahidIpswich School 
1989J. P. CrawleyManchester Grammar School 
1990C. J. EyersRoyal GS, Worcester 
1991M. G. N. WindowsClifton College 
1992R. W. NowellTrinity School, Croydon 
1993I. J. SutcliffeLeeds Grammar School 
1994L. J. BothamRossall School 
1995C. G. TaylorColston’s School 
1996R. WilkinsonWorksop College 
1997R. S. ClintonColfe’s School 
1998P. J. S. SpencerBrighton College 
1999Bazid KhanBrighton College 
2000G. J. MuchallDurham School 
2001T. B. HugginsKimbolton School 
2002A. N. CookBedford School 
2003A. N. CookBedford School 
2004J. ColeMerchant Taylors’, Crosby 
2005D. B. PheloungFelsted School 
2006P. L. MommsenGordonstoun School 
          Formal award inaugurated
 
2007J. M. BairstowSt Peter’s School, York 
2008J. W. A. TaylorShrewsbury School 
2009J. C. ButtlerKing’s College, Taunton 
2010W. G. R. VandersparEton College 
2011D. J. Bell-DrummondMillfield School 
2012T. B. AbellTaunton School 
2013T. Köhler-CadmoreMalvern College 
2014D. E. BudgeWoodhouse Grove School 
2015B. A. WaringFelsted School 
2016A. J. WoodlandSt Edward’s, Oxford 
2017E. T. D. CastertonRoyal GS, High Wycombe 
2018N. J. Tilley      Reed’s School 
2019T. S. MuyeyeEastbourne College 

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