Herbert Sutcliffe and the Yorkshire Captaincy

Published: 2003
Pages: 23
Author: Rosenwater, Irving
Publisher: Bodyline Books
Rating: 4 stars

This monograph is not by any means the only one that Rosenwater begins with a quote on its subject, and as ever it is a wonderfully apposite one, this time from Learie Constantine; Sutcliffe, unshakeable in the hour of trial, imperturbable in the moment of victory. It is almost as good as my favourite, but not quite, and that is one achievement that remains with ‘Crusoe’ Robertson-Glasgow, who described Sutcliffe as the sort of man who would rather miss a train than run for it, and so be seen in disorder and heard breathing heavily.

Back in 1927 Sutclffe was one of the leading batsmen in the country, and a member of the powerful Yorkshire side that had won the County Championship in 1922, 1923, 1924 and 1925. They had however been knocked off their perch for the previous two summers, and worse still by Lancashire, and it is against that background that the committee met in November 1927 to discuss the captaincy for the following season.

The problem Yorkshire had was that in a world where convention had it that captains were amateurs, they had none available who were worth their place in the side. Major Arthur Lupton’s batting average of not even ten might have been acceptable when the Championship was won in 1925, but not when it had been ceded to the Red Rose in 1926 and 1927.

The decision to offer the job to Sutcliffe caused some disquiet, primarily amongst those who though that the 50 year old Wilfred Rhodes should have got the job, but it was not too controversial a decision, even with the autocratic Lord Hawke, who decided that he could draw a distinction between the status of the leader of county and country.

An offer was duly made to Sutcliffe, at the time on his way to South Africa with England. He initially indicated he was happy to accept the position, but later changed his mind. His reasoning was not publicised and, perhaps as a consequence of that, the story is one that never attracted the attention it deserved. Rosenwater’s researches did not shed much light on Sutcliffe’s own position, but he uncovers, that apart, all there is to know about this interesting episode from the history of the White Rose. Published in an edition of 75 copies this is one of only two Rosenwater limited editions to have been published by Bodyline Books.

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