Victor Trumper died at Sydney on June 28, 1915. Of all the great Australian batsmen Victor Trumper was by general consent the best and most brilliant. No one else among the famous group, from Charles Bannerman – thirty-nine years ago – to Bardsley and Macartney at the present time, had quite such remarkable powers. To say this involves no depreciation of Clem Hill, Noble, or the late WL Murdoch. Trumper at the zenith of his fame challenged comparison with Ranjitsinhji. He was great under all conditions of weather and ground. He could play quite an orthodox game when he wished to, but it was his ability to make big scores when orthodox methods were unavailing that lifted him above his fellows.
For this reason Trumper was, in proportion, more to be feared on treacherous wickets than on fast, true ones. No matter how bad the pitch might be from the combined effects of rain and sunshine, he was quite likely to get 50 runs, his skill in pulling good-length balls amounting to genius. Of this fact our English bowlers had convincing evidence day after day during the season of 1902. Trumper paid four visits to this country — in 1899, 1902, 1905, and 1909 — but it was in 1902 that he reached his highest point.
In that summer of wretched weather he scored 2570 runs in thirty-five matches for the Australian team, with the wonderful average, in the circumstances, of 48. He was as consistent as he was brilliant, and did not owe his average to a few exceptional scores. Of eleven innings of over a hundred, the biggest was 128. Trumper did not again touch the same level in this country. He played very well in 1905 and 1909, but he was no longer pre-eminent. He was fifth in the averages in 1905, and in 1909 he was overshadowed by Bardsley and Ransford. In the latter year, however, he was seen at his best, notably against England at The Oval, when he played DW Carr’s googlies with perfect ease, and in the second match against MCC at Lord’s. When he came here first, in 1899, he jumped at once into the front rank, playing a splendid innings of 135 not out against England at Lord’s and scoring 300 not out against Sussex at Brighton. His innings at Lord’s was in itself sufficient to prove that Australia had found a world’s batsman. Nothing could have been better.
His career culminated when the South Africans visited Australia in the season of 1910-11. He then recovered his finest form, and on the beautiful wickets at Melbourne, Adelaide, and Sydney the googly bowlers had no terrors for him. In the five Test matches he scored 662 runs, with an average of 94. It was agreed on all hands that he had not played so well since his trip to England in 1902. Under all conditions Trumper was a fascinating batsman to watch. His extreme suppleness lent a peculiar grace to everything he did. When he was hitting up a big score batting seemed quite an easy matter. He took so many liberties, however, and scored from so many good balls, that in order to do himself justice he had to be in the best possible health and condition. The strokes with which he drove even the best bowlers to despair demanded a marvellous union of hand and eye. His game at its highest point of excellence could only be played by a young man.
Trumper was the most popular Australian cricketer of his time. A match played for his benefit — between New South Wales and the Rest of Australia — at Sydney in February, 1913 – produced in gate-money and donations nearly £3000. Born on November 2, 1877, Trumper was in his thirty-eighth year. He had been in bad health for some little time, and the latest accounts of his condition received in this country were so discouraging as to prepare his friends for the worst. He died of Bright’s disease. Trumper was never spoilt by success in the cricket field. When his name was in everyone’s mouth he remained as modest and unaffected as on the day he first set foot in England.
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