Harold Gwyer Garnett

Published: 2022
Pages: 20
Author: Tebay, Martin
Publisher: Red Rose Books
Rating: 3.5 stars

The second man to be the subject of Red Rose Books’ Initial Century in First Class Cricket series is Harold Garnett. Like the first in the series, Dick Barlow, Garnett was a Lancastrian, but one who is much less well known than Barlow and. for that reason, he is perhaps a little more interesting.

The introduction to the monograph paints an interesting picture of an amateur left handed batsman who, I did once know but had completely forgotten, had such a good summer in 1901, that of the innings under consideration, that his county captain Archie Maclaren took him to Australia in 1901/02. Sadly for both however Garnett had a trip to forget, never got going with the bat and did not play in any of the Tests.

A few months earlier, before he set sail for the Antipodes, Garnett would however have been feeling very happy with his game as, against Leicestershire in early June he had made 139 from number four in the order in his side’s second innings.

The bulk of this booklet, some ten pages, is given over to an account of the match, which ended in a comfortable victory for Lancashire, skilfully put together by an author who has, as always, clearly read all of the contemporary press reports of the match.

As mentioned the difference between Barlow and Garnett is that much has been written in the past about Barlow, and indeed his was one of the game’s earliest autobiographies. But of Garnett there is all but nothing. That is partly addressed by an afterword that explains how Major Garnett came to lose his life at the Battle of Cambrai in 1917.

What we don’t learn is what Garnett did between 1901 and 1914. He only ever played four full summers in English cricket, in 1901, 1905, 1911 and 1914, and two half seasons in 1903 and 1904. So what happened to the rest of his time? Most of it seems to have been spent in Argentina, where he was involved in some way in property development, but beyond that information about Garnett is not easy to find.

But perhaps I am getting a little ahead of myself as, when all is said done, the purpose of the series is to look at debut centuries rather than entire careers, and this one is certainly an excellent account of that, the 118th occasion on which a Lancashire batsman had reached three figures but, remarkably, the first time a left hander had reached the landmark.

Harold Gwyer Garnett appears in a limited edition of 30 copies, available directly from the publisher at £6.99 including UK postage and packing. A small stock is also, I believe, on its way to Roger Page in Melbourne.

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