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Trumper, Victor Thomas (1877–1915)

from Leader (Melbourne)

Victor Trumper, the nonpareil of Australian batsmen, died, in Sydney at St. Vincent's Hospital on Monday morning at the early and untimely age of 37. For months his health had not been satisfactory, and acute kidney trouble developed into dropsy, which hastened the end.

He first went to England in 1899 as a stripling of 21, but it was on his second visit, in 1902, that Trumper stood alone among the batsmen of the world, not only for surpassing his own colleagues, but also putting in the shade everyone who played for England. In the course of the tour he obtained, despite the wet weather, 2570 runs, thus easily beating Darling's record of 1941 in the glorious summer of 1899, which up to 1902 was a record aggregate for any colonial batsman touring the old country.

Regarding the tour of 1902, "Wisden" said pages might have been written about Trumper's batting without exhausting the subject. Having regard to the character of the season, with its many wet days and soft wickets, it is safe to say that no one – not even Ranjitsinhji – had been at once so brilliant and so consistent since W. G. Grace was at his best.

Trumper seemed independent of varying conditions, being able to play just as dazzling a game after a night's rain as when the wickets were hard and true. All bowling came alike to him on many occasions, notably in the test matches at Sheffield and Manchester, and the first of the two games with the M.C.C. at head quarters, when he reduced the best bowlers of England for the time being to the level of the village green. They were simply incapable of checking his extraordinary hitting. Only a combination of wonderful eye and supreme confidence could have rendered such pulling as his at all possible. The way in which he took good length balls off the middle and off stumps had to be seen to be believed.

Though this exceptional faculty, however, was one of the main sources of his strength on soft wickets, he was far indeed from being dependent on unorthodox strokes. His cutting and off-driving were perfection itself, and he did everything with such an easy and masterly grace of style that his batting was always a delight to the eye. That doyen of cricket writers, Sydney H. Pardon, the editor of "Wisden" for many years, stated that he played essentially a young man's game. He risked much and depended on lightning quickness of hand and eye. He was not in the smallest degree spoilt by his triumphs, bearing himself just as modestly and playing the game as sternly at the end of a long tour as at its beginning.

I have purposely dwelt at length on the brightest phase of Trumper's brilliant career. When he toured England in 1902, a phenomenally wet season, he often walked ankle deep in slush to the wickets, but never once did he fail to score. Of his doings in Australia, from his phenomenal early boyhood to his premature end, volumes might be written. His alert and easy pose at the wickets was grace itself, and when in motion his batting has been well described as the champagne of cricket. The characteristic shrug at the start of an innings to loosen his shoulders was a mannerism of Trumper's alone. It meant business.

With cricketing enthusiasts Trumper was a name to conjure with. The wizardry of his batting charmed friend and foe alike. The aptly named Victor was pre-eminently the greatest batsman of his generation and, many good judges would say, of any generation. Personally I would hesitate to class him above the immortal "W.G.," who played his first match for Gentlemen v. Players in 1865, and his last in 1906, a period of four years longer than the span of Trumper's whole life. W. G., in his forty-seventh year, reached 1000 runs in first class cricket a month after the season opened. But comparisons are odious. One had the irreponsible and the unsurpassable genius of youth: the other was a matured craftsman. One used his bat like a stock rider's whip; the other almost always pursued orthodox methods. Suffice to say that, amid a galaxy of batsmen like Hill, Darling, Noble, Maclaren, Jackson and Ranjitsinhji, the like of which has never before or since been gathered together, Trumper stood alone.

His gentle, generous and manly attributes were hardly less prominent than his batting abilities. His very generosity mititated against his success in business, and his testimonial match a couple of years ago was opportune. It was a magnificent success, and the £3000 realised was invested, at Trumper's own request, by trustees, and the income paid to him for life, to revert to his wife and children at his death. It is satisfactory to know that his dear ones, by his own unselfish action, are secured from want.

The adulation of the crowd for their popular idol had no effect on Trumper. The quickest way to rouse his ire was to attempt to advertise him. I only once saw him moved by applause and that was a rapturous reception, the like of which I doubt has ever been paid to any other athlete. It occurred at his testimonial match in Sydney. When Victor appeared, mounting the steps from the pavilion, the applause started. It spread like a conflagration round the ground, and the thunder lasted till he reached the wickets. Then Clem Hill, as captain of the Rest of Australia, called for three cheers, and after that the clapping and shouting from 30,000 throats started again, lasting for several minutes. It was enough to unnerve the most hardened. When he mounted the steps to enter the field the thunderous applause met him as a shock, and Victor glanced round in a scared and startled manner, as if seeking a means of escape. Although he made a century, at the start of the innings it was palpable that the demonstration had affected him considerably. Adieu, Trumper! It might be truly said that "none but himself could be his peer."

BATTING: IN AUSTRALIA.

  Matches Innings

Not Out

Most in innings Runs Average
Aust. v. England 20 40 2 *185 1,400 36.84
Aust. v. S. Africa  5 9 2 *214 661 91.42
Australian XI. v. Combined XI.      4 5 - 62 152 30.40
Australian XI. v. England 1 1 - 30 30 30.00
Australian XI. v. NSW 1 2 - 60 75 37.50
Australian XI. v. New Zealand 4 4 - 172 409 102.25
Combined XI. v. Australian XI. 3 6 - 75 199 33.16
New South Wales v. England   
11 21 - 74 533 25.38
New South Wales v. New Zealand  2 2 - 253 285 142.50
New South Wales v. Queensland 6 7 1 208 421 70.16
New South Wales v. South Africa  2 4 - 78 168 42.00
New South Wales v. Rest of Australia 3 5 1 *126 304 76.00
New South Wales v. South Australia    23 40 2 *201 1,679 44.18
New South Wales v. Tasmania   2 2 2 *292 379 379.00
New South Wales v. Victoria  22 38 1 230 1,926 52.05
New South Wales v. Western Australia   1 2 - 55 106 53.00
  110 118 11 *292 8,727 49.30

 BATTING: IN ENGLAND.  

Australia v. England    19 34 3 *135 863 27.83
Australia v Other XI.-a-side matches     110 161 3 *300 6,452 40.83
  129 195 6 *300 7,315 88.70

 BATTING: IN SOUTH AFRICA.

Aust. v. S. Africa 3 6 1 70 239 47.80

SUMMARY

In Australia       110 188 11 *292 8,727 49.30
In England   129 195 6 *300 7,315 38.70
In South Africa       8 6 1 70 239 47.80
  242 389 18 *300 16,281 43.83

 An analysis of the batting in first class cricket of Trumper and of five other crack Australian players of more recent days gives the following result:

  Trumper Bardsley Hill Armstrong Noble
200 and over 7 3 4 6 7
150, under 200 7 6 11 6 6
100, under 150     27 16 29 21 24
75, under 100    26 12 32 12 13
50, under 75     59 26 48 32 52
25, under 50     82 43 75 91 72
Doubles, under 25      79 35 105 71 81
Single figures     77 43 82 76 86
Ducks     25 12 25 17 31
Totals     389 196 411 332 372

 

  Trumper Bardsley Hill Armstrong Noble
Centuries     10.7 13.0 10.8 10.0 10.1
Inns. of 50, but under 100    22.1 19.7 19.6 13.4 17.8
Inns. of double figures, under 50     41.9 40.4 44.1 49.2 41.8
Completed ins. under 10     25.3 26.9 25.5 27.4 30.4
First class av.     44.26 49.00 43.17 45.14 41.00


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Citation details

'Trumper, Victor Thomas (1877–1915)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/trumper-victor-thomas-8862/text35555, accessed 21 September 2018.

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