Sam Cosstick 1836-1896

Published: 2005
Pages: 121
Author: Sunners, Peter
Publisher: Self published
Rating: 3 stars

Sam Cosstick 1836-1896

Sam Cosstick is a forgotten champion of Australia cricket.

Unfortunately for Cosstick he was just past his peak, aged 41, when Test cricket started in Australia in 1877 but for several years before that first Test, Cosstick was undeniably the finest bowler in the colonies.

Cosstick was one of the first truly professional cricketers in Australia, being employed by the Melbourne club to play for them in the Melbourne grade competition, and to also act as a net bowler for the members of the club.

The author Peter James Sunners first became interested in the old bowler, when he discovered he was related to Cosstick while researching his own family history.

Unfortunately, the author failed to discover a birth date for his subject, and only lists his christening date. I was surprised that he fails to mention the reason for this as Cosstick’s birth date is listed as January 1, 1836 in The Oxford Companion To Australian Cricket, and in Wisden Australia. I imagine this is because people at that time, if they did not know their exact birthdate, would simply write 1 January and their birth year.

With no television or radio coverage during the career of Cosstick, Sunners discovered a vast amount of information about his great grandfather in contemporary newspapers.

What we do learn is Cosstick – affectionately known as ‘Old Hoss’ – was an indefatigable bowler who liked a drink and was not afraid to stand up for his rights as a player. He often refused to play or was left out of representative sides over disputes regarding payments for his services.

Cosstick played against all of the early touring English sides, often following them around and appearing for up-country teams as well as representative sides. He once uttered the prophetic words “Bar W.G. we’re as good as they are, and some day we’ll lick ’em with eleven”. This showed that Sam considered himself an Australian despite being born in Surrey and not arriving in Australia until the age of 18.

Cosstick had some tragedy in his life, having a child die in infancy and later losing his wife at the early age of 39, although Sunners is unable to tell us the reason for her death.

All in all Peter James Sunners has done a fine job in putting flesh on the bones of one of
Australia’s earliest cricketing champions.

So if you want to know a little about a true Aussie cricketing larrikin then you should have a read of this book.

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