Life Story of Albert Ward

Published: 2021
Pages: 12
Author: Tebay, Martin
Publisher: Red Rose Books
Rating: 3.5 stars

This one is something of a departure for Red Rose Books and, given that I understand it has all but sold out already, it would seem a popular one. It is the first in what Martin Tebay hopes will become an occasional series of Interviews With Famous Lancashire Cricketers although not, I should stress, interviews that are carried out by him.

The subject of the first booklet in the series is Albert Ward, a Yorkshireman who played for Lancashire between 1889 and 1904, so entirely within the ‘Golden Age’. There were also seven England caps for Ward including two notable performances in the first and last Test of the historic 1894/95 series, still two of the more remarkable England victories in Ashes history.

In 1916 Ward was interviewed by Jimmy Catton, an experienced journalist whose usual byline was ‘Tityrus’, for the Sporting Chronicle. A wide ranging conversation between Catton and Ward makes up the bulk of the booklet.

There is much material on the subject of Ward’s earliest years and, naturally, on his performances in Australia. One of the more interesting questions Catton asks Ward is as to who the best batsman he had seen was. His answer, prefaced by the observation that he had never seen WG Grace in his pomp, was unequivocally Ranji, with honourable mentions for AC MacLaren and Victor Trumper amongst the amateurs, and Billy Gunn, Arthur Shrewsbury and JT Tyldesley from Ward’s professional brethren.

Martin has left Catton’s original text unaltered, although he has added a number of useful footnotes that shed further light on Ward’s story. He also adds a two page introduction, to both Ward and Catton, and a couple of illustrations. The original limited edition of 24 numbered copies (one for each of Ward’s First Class centuries for Lancashire) are all sold, but I believe there may still be a couple of out of series copies still available through Red Rose Books and a handful on their way to Roger Page in Melbourne may not yet all be spoken for.

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