Johnny Tyldesley, a stylish Lancashire batsman, had a breakout 1901 season when he topped the county’s run-scoring charts. He was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year the following spring.
JT Tyldesley, who, unlike most of the famous professionals who at different times have assisted the northern county, is a native of Lancashire, was born on November 22, 1873. During his days of purely club cricket, he must have studied the art of batting assiduously, for when the Lancashire committee in 1895 gave him a place in their eleven, he was quite ready for county matches and capable at once of doing justice to his natural ability.
Of this fact, he quickly afforded conclusive proof, playing during his first season for the county an innings of 152 not out against Warwickshire at Birmingham. We happened to have the good fortune to see that famous innings, and felt convinced that Lancashire had found a batsman of exceptional gifts. Tyldesley has, of course, learnt a good deal since then and greatly improved in every way, but even in 1895 his method was formed, and no doubt could be felt that, given good health and ordinary luck, he would secure a high position.
Except for a slight falling off between 1899 and 1900, he has during the past six years steadily gone ahead, and he now stands out as one of the representative batsmen of the day. In 1898, 1899, and again last season he came out at the top of the averages of Lancashire. In 1901, indeed, he beat all his previous records, scoring 3,041 runs in first-class matches with an average of 55. This was good enough for anything, but it is certain that he would have done still better if the wickets at Old Trafford during the early weeks of the season had been up to their old standard.
He made more runs for Lancashire than had ever before been scored for that county in one season, and fairly set the seal on his fame with an innings of 140 for the Players against the Gentlemen at Lord’s. This 140 is with one exception the highest score ever obtained for the Players at Lord”s in the representative match, being only inferior to JT Brown’s 163 in 1900. Apart from a little uncertainty in dealing with Mr. Jephson’s lobs, it was a wonderful display, marked by cutting and off-driving that for sheer brilliancy could hardly have been surpassed.
While, however, his cut and off-drive are his prettiest strokes, he is far indeed from being merely an off-side player. He can play the hook stroke more cleverly than most batsmen, and is indeed a fine hitter all round the wicket. Quite a short man, he has proved, like Abel and WG Quaife in our own day and the late Tom Humphrey a generation ago, that greatness in batting is not a matter of inches. As regards defence, he is essentially a back player, and his style is so neat and finished that a good score from him when he is in the form is always a delight to the eye. One of the finest innings he has ever played was certainly his 221 last May at Trent Bridge against Notts. He saved his side from what had threatened to be a severe defeat, and proved that when necessary he could play a sternly defensive game as well as a brilliant one.
He is no bowler, but as an outfielder there are not three men in England at the present time who can beat him. Whether at third man or long-off he is magnificent, covering a lot of ground, returning with great quickness and accuracy, and being at all times a certain catch. He was picked for England against Australia, both at Nottingham and Lord’s, in 1899, but was far more successful on both occasions in fielding than in batting. He was chosen by MacLaren to make one of the team for Australia, his selection indeed being almost inevitable after his superb batting last season for Lancashire.
Johnny Tyldesley scored 1,661 runs in 31 Tests for England. In a first-class career that spanned four decades, he aggregated 37,897 runs at 40.66, including a staggering 86 hundreds.