Tails Of Topsy – Tom Wass

One of the greatest bowlers in the history of Nottinghamshire cricket, Thomas George Wass was a right arm fast-medium bowler who took a record amount of wickets for the county in the early 1900s. With an incredible 1653 wickets at an average of 20 in 308 matches, Wass was one of the main performers as Notts won the County Championship in 1907 with a superb 145 wickets at an average of 13.57 runs apiece.

Born in Sutton-in-Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, on 26 December 1873, Wass started playing in local cricket and was offered the opportunity to play for Lancashire after having moved to Scotland for a while. After a slow start to his career at Trent Bridge, playing in a side with weak bowling, Wass came to the fore in 1900 with his first hundred wicket haul; 100 at 19 each in 17 matches. Two years later, he captured 138 wickets at 15 runs apiece.

His performances during this summer included eleven wickets or over in a match five times, and figures of 9 for 91, 8-25, 8-73, 7-19, 7-60, and 7-48. With his bowling efforts and the improved batting of the team, Nottinghamshire jumped up to third place in the county table in 1902.

Having come fifth in the championship the previous season, Notts managed to capture their first county title in 1907, as Wass and spin bowler Albert Hallam shared a remarkable 298 wickets. Out of the 20 matches played, the county won 15 games and lost none. It remains one of the highest proportions of wins to matches played in the county championship history.

Early in the season, Wass took a sensational six wickets for three runs against the MCC (Marylebone Cricket Club), having plucked out 16 batsman in a day the previous year. He was in the England squad for the test match against South Africa but was left out of the final eleven, and actually did not compete in an international game during his career. He took over a 100 wickets in a season ten times between 1900 and 1912.

He played in just one first-class match after the war, in Joe Hardstaff snr’s benefit match in 1920. Known as ‘Topsy’ Wass was a tall bowler with a rhythmic run-up. He used the leg-cutter to good effect on rain-affected wickets, and was genuinely fast in his heyday. The overall statistics are quite staggering.

For Nottinghamshire, he twice took nine wickets in an innings, 14 times eight wickets in an innings, and 19 times seven wickets in an innings. In matches, he twice captured 16 wickets in a game, three times 14 wickets in a game, and nine times 13 in a match. For the county, he also recorded five or more wickets in an innings ten or more times in a season on eight occasions, with 18 being his most profitable in 1902.

His best bowling figures were 9 for 67 against Derbyshire in 1911, having had a spell of 8 for 19 in 14 balls. A record also that will not be broken, apart from the total wickets taken, will be the number of times he took five or more wickets in an innings for Notts – 158 times!

The total career figures amounted to 1666 wickets in 312 matches at 20.46 runs per wicket. He took five wickets in an innings 159 times, and ten wickets in a match 45 times. He captured a wicket around every 42 deliveries. A note on his batting, he averaged just 7.27 in 395 innings with one fifty, but did pouch 114 catches.

He passed away in his home town in 1953.

*Article provided by Hitesh Darji (Cricket Correspondent)

*Main image @TrentBridge Tom ‘Topsy’ Wass was a brilliant bowler for Nottinghamshire.

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