C.B. Fry was a politician, a world record-breaking long jumper, an FA Cup finalist, a reputed heir to the throne of Albania… and a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1895.
MR CHARLES B. FRY was born on the 25th of April, 1872. Since the days of C. J. Ottaway and the Hon. Alfred Lyttelton there has been no such Admirable Crichton in the way of outdoor sports at either University as Mr Fry, and if we had to deal with him as a long jumper, sprint runner, and football player, the demands upon our space would be extreme. However, it is only as a cricketer that we have here to discuss his powers.
At Repton he was in the XI with the brothers Palairet in 1888, and was not long in making a reputation as a batsman. In 1889 he was at the top of the school average, scoring 442 runs in 12 completed innings. In 1890 he was less successful, averaging only 24, with an aggregate of 419, but in 1891 he met with conspicuous success, scoring 395 runs, with an average of 49.3. It was thus with an established position that he went up to Oxford.
He gained his ‘Blue’ the first time of asking, but inasmuch as he averaged just under 20 for 18 innings, it cannot be said that he did anything out of the common for the Eleven. However, he scored 110 runs against Somerset at Oxford, contributing in a material degree to the seven wickets victory of the University, and in the all-important match against Cambridge at Lord’s he was seen to special advantage, scoring 44 and 27. In both innings he played with great nerve and judgment when things were going badly for his side, and in Oxford’s unexpected success by five wickets he had an honourable share, though his performance was less remarkable than those of Jardine, V.T. Hill, and L.C.H. Palairet.
Except in the Oxford matches, Mr Fry took no part in first-class cricket in 1892. The season of 1893, though it opened with abundant promise, was a disastrous one for Oxford, seven of the nine matches played by the University being lost and the other two left unfinished. Misfortunes culminated in a truly deplorable exhibition at Lord’s, when the Dark Blues went in to get 331 and were all out for 64.
In this innings – one of the feeblest that had been seen in the University match – Oxford went down before the bowling of A.G. Steel and P.H. Morton in 1878 for a total of 32 – Mr Fry set a good example to his colleagues, going in with the score at seven, and making 31 runs out of the 48 put on during his stay. His record for Oxford, however, was not remarkable, his 17 innings giving an average of just under 20.5. During the past season it was his good fortune to be captain at Oxford, and under his leadership an ample revenge was taken for the defeat of 1893, Oxford beating Cambridge at Lord’s in brilliant fashion by eight wickets.
In gaining this victory, Mr Fry played a conspicuous part, scoring 100 not out, fielding splendidly, and showing great judgement as a leader. As will be seen in another part of the Almanack, he was only second to G.J. Mordaunt in the Oxford batting, averaging just over 30, with an aggregate of 454 runs.
Playing for Sussex under the residential qualification, he came out fourth in the averages in the County Championship matches and sixth in all matches, while in the first-class averages for the season he had quite a respectable place, standing 26th on the list. His figures were 29 innings, 713 runs, twice not out, average 26.11. We would not put Mr Fry as a batsman in the same class with such a player as Mr MacLaren, but he has any amount of pluck and resolution, and, inasmuch as he played three innings of over a hundred in first-class matches, he has a distinct claim to a place among the prominent batsmen of 1894.
Mr Fry is a brilliant field, but for his bowling we cannot express admiration. In point of fairness of delivery it is by no means so bad now as it was when he first appeared in the Oxford XI, but it still leaves a great deal to be desired.