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Maurice Leyland a Pet Aversion of Australian Bowlers
Has Record of Remarkable Consistency
By Ray Johnston
ASK any man on any street corner to select the player who, next to Walter Hammond, is Australia's pet aversion in the present Test series, and he will instantly name Maurice Leyland.
TAT least, he should, for ** the Yorkshire left hander has, in the three tTests already decided, given our best trundters some severe buffetings, while our fieldsmen do not attempt to hide their delight at his dismissal.
In a sense, Leyland was directly responsible for In land's rehabilitation on the present tour.
' With critics here and abroad decrying them as a crowd of second raters following poor dis plays against Southern States, and combined teams early hi the tour, a huge responsibility rested upon Leyland's shoulders when he walked on to the Woolloon gabba ground in that now mem orable first Test Three wickets, including the great Hammond's had fallen for 30, but for getting everything that had gone be fore, Leyland set about O'Reilly and the others In business-like fashion and with a brilliant century laid the basis for a total which enabled England to win. In subsequent matches, too, he has proved an English sheet anchor. That wnflnished knock of 111 in the fourth Innings of the third Test was probably bis grandest of the tour to date, for England was in a hopeless position, facing a total of over 800 and ap proximately six of his countrymen came and went while Leyland occu pied the crease. Leyland is the veteran of Allen's party, his 36 years giving him a lead of a few months over Wyatt and Duck worth. Born at Harrowgate in July, 1800, he had experience of Lanca shire League Cricket as early as 1814, and Immediately the war ceased he
became professional to the Harrow gate Club. He occupied this position until 1920 and during that period was tried in Yorkshire second eleven games, but his debut in the premier team was not long delayed. In 1933, he first achieved this distinction and obviously it spurred him on to greater things, for critics were kept busy commenting upon the rapid Improvement in his play.
Recognition came in 1938 when he was chosen to tour with Chapman's happy band, and instantly his forceful bat ting made him a great favourite with Australian crowds. He did quite well on that tour, averaging 43.85 for all first class matches, and since that date there has scarcely been a representa tive match in which Leyland has not appeared for his country. He has as sisted Yorkshire to win the county competition on a number of occasions, and to date has appeared in 31 Vests against Australia and South Africa.
JXE is also among that select band who have scored more than 35,080 runs In first class play. In 698 in nings from 1930. Leyland's total until the close of 1935 cricket was 35*34, for an everage of 4130. His highest score was 347—truly a performance of which any cricketer might well be proud. Australians have come to admire Ley land almost as much as Hammond. Individualists are always favoured in this country and Leyland is nothing if not an individualist There are times when he has displayed dogged resistance, but not without the occa sion demanding it. His preference la for attack, and when he is going in his best style he is a delightful player to watch. He has hard hitting powers and wrist flexibility which enable him to cut and hook with equal facility. In other ways, too, he is an asset to any international side, for his outfield ing approaches perfection, while he is a useful man in almost any other position. To have the highest opinian of Ley land's cricketing ability it was only necessary to see him in action at Woolloongabba during the First Test
Dourness personified as he defied ef forts to dislodge him for several hours, he at all times gave the impression of a born cricketer. Even the great task that confronted him could not convert him into a purely defensive player. He was more restrained than usual, but a ball had only to be on the loose side, and Leyland was quick to attack. The effect of his success upon the remainder of the tourists was electrical. From that moment they became a formkUble band, with devastating results ao far as Austra lia's Test hopes were concerned.
In the three Tests decided, Leyland has scored SSI runs, and bis average of SSJS is well ahead of Australian figures and little short of Hammond's average of 84.75, compiled with the aid of an unfinished Innings for SSI. Big cricket to-day can scarcely boast few more consistent batsmen than Maurice Leyland.
Perhaps Leyland, mare than any ether member of the team, waa wponribie far England's rehab- UtUttMU