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Cotter, Albert (Tibby) (1883–1917)

from Winner (Melbourne)

Albert Cotter, by Bolland, Hanwell, W. &​ Southall

Albert Cotter, by Bolland, Hanwell, W. &​ Southall

National Library of Australia, 25225898

Profound regret (writes Mr P. A. McAlister) was expressed in cricket circles when it became known that the famous Australian 'express' bowler and 'lion' hitter, Albert Cotter, known familiarly in Australia and England as 'Tibbie,' had made the supreme sacrifice for the Empire. He was a magnificent specimen of athletic manhood, with wonderful strength in his muscular and perfectly proportioned body. Only a man of such physique could have remained for so many years the fastest bowler in Australia. He was born in December, 1883, educated at the Forest Lodge Superior Public School, having Warren Bardsley's father as his master, and afterwards at the Sydney Grammar School, where he was a champion at both cricket and Rugby football. He threw in his lot with the Glebe club in senior cricket, and secured a place in the New South Wales interstate team against Victoria in 1902. He was given little opportunity to distinguish himself, and only bowled a few overs in each innings. It was not until two years afterwards, in January, 1904, on the same ground and against the same team, Victoria, that he received his next chance. His start on that occasion was most sensational. He bowled at rare pace, and, amid wild excitement, clean bowled W. Bruce and Harry Trott in one over when they were well set, and then Harry Stuckey and Warwick Armstrong, with only 11 runs debited to him. He finished up with four for 50 and two for 75. He repeated his fine performance against Warner's English team a fortnight afterwards. His first three victims were Warner (0), Hayward (5), and Tyldesley (17), and his average for England's first innings was five for 44. After obtaining three for 56 in the second innings he fell on his shoulder in fielding, and was unable to continue bowling. These fine feats secured him a place in the Fourth Test match on the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Wonderful Bowling
I was also playing my first test game, and fielded in the slips to 'Tibbie's' fast ones, and was, therefore, in an excellent position to admire the tremendous pace of his deliveries; nothing approaching it had been witnessed since the retirement of the South Australian 'express,' Ernie Jones. I will never forget the dismayed look on Johnny Tyldesley's face as a fast rising ball knocked off his hat. I doubt whether Johnny ever experienced a more narrow escape from serious injury. In the 5th Test match on the Melbourne Ground, on a wet wicket, he bowled at an extraordinary pace, and was almost unplayable. He obtained six wickets for 40 in England's first inning's total of 64. Altogether, in the two games, he secured 11 wickets for 150 runs for an average of 13.63. This was the best for the Test games. He was also top in all first class matches with 25 wickets for 375 runs, average 15.0. In 1904-5 he secured 18 wickets in first-class cricket for 439 runs with an average of 21.6. His best performance was against South Australia. He obtained six wickets, including Gehrs, Hack, C. Hill, Darling and Claxton, for 37 runs, and numerous chances were missed off his deliveries. He was chosen to visit England with the 1905 Australian-Eleven and was a decided success as the following fine figures show: — 4525 balls, 127 maidens, 2460 runs, 124 wickets, 19.33 average. In batting he compiled 740 runs for an average of 17.61. He was one of the mainstays of New South Wales, and also of Australia for the next four seasons.

Famous Batting Feat
In the first test game against A. O. Jones's team in Sydney in 1907 he was batting with the late Gerald Hazlitt at the finish of one of the most exciting contests ever played between England and Australia. Fifty-six runs were wanted, and only Jack Saunders to follow, when Tibbie wended his way to the wickets to assist Hazlitt in the Herculean task. How these two fairly collared the English bowling and won the game for Australia will live for all time in the memory of those who witnessed it. I have good cause to remember it, for I received a black eye from a ball delivered by poor Colin Blythe (who was also killed about the same time as Tibbie) a short time before Cotter batted. Albert Cotter was selected to make his second trip to England, in 1909. As a member of that team I had many opportunities of watching his prowess on the field. He took little interest in the minor games, and was always eager to stand down to give others a chance. In the more important matches he was the acme of keenness, the better the game the better he played. He had the happy knack of rising to the occasion. In the third test match at Leeds he and C. Macartney routed England for 87 on a good wicket, when they required only 212 runs to win. Tibbie's average was five for 38, and Macartney's four for 27. In a match at Leicester he saved our team from a follow-on on a treacherous wicket by making 35 in nine hits in 10 minutes. He drove three powerful 6s, three 4's, two 2's, and a single. On that tour he bowled 3440 balls, 68 maidens, 1862 runs, 64 wickets for an average of 29.09. He was a most agreeable companion on the tour, and was exceedingly popular among the English cricketers and supporters of the game. He was naturally easy going, with a smile for everybody. He was also full of humor. This was exemplified on one occasion during the team's famous 14 days' motor tour through Scotland as the guests of Mr Peter Dawson, the well-known whisky distiller. Frequently we were welcomed to towns we visited by the Provost and Councillors.

Amusing Recollections
We arrived early one evening at a small village called Lairg, in the wild moorlands of Scotland, and stayed for the night in what seemed a large hotel for such a sparsely populated place. Missing the usual welcome from the Provost and Councillors, Tibbie and another member of the team hunted up a few fishermen, who consented to act the civic parts. They placed them at the head of a table in one of the hotel rooms and then scouted round after the various members of our team. These were ushered in singly and introduced most sedately to the 'pseudo' Provost, Town Clerk, and Councillors. Drinks were ordered, speeches were indulged in, and the 'Provost' kindly consented to favour the company with a Gaelic song. He was immediately pronounced the most sociable dignitary yet encountered. The song was a huge success. We did not understand a word of it, but the tune was a wild and rollicking one; it was essential to move the arms and legs freely in singing the chorus, which we quickly picked up, and were soon jumping about like a lot of wild aboriginals. It was such a great hit that one of our party dressed himself in the kilts of a Sutherland Highlander and attempted to play an accompaniment on the bagpipes. This was too cruel in a 12 x 12 room, and fairly settled the corroboree. We then adjourned to the courtyard of the hotel, handed the pipes to an experienced player, and sword dances, Gillie Callums, etc., were performed with great gusto for the rest of the evening. Everybody was delighted at the success of Tibbie's joke. In bidding farewell to the 'Provost.' Tibbie brightened the old chap's heart by presenting him with a bottle of whisky (just a wee drap for the morn).

A Sad Loss
Albert Cotter enlisted in 1915, and his heroic work as a stretcher-bearer with the Australian Light Horse in Egypt, has been highly spoken of in many quarters. The sympathy of all cricket lovers goes out to his relatives in their sad loss.

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Citation details

'Cotter, Albert (Tibby) (1883–1917)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/cotter-albert-tibby-5785/text35018, accessed 25 November 2017.

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