Lionel Palairet : biography
Lionel Charles Hamilton Palairet (27 May 1870 – 27 March 1933) was an English amateur cricketer who played for Somerset. He was selected to play Test cricket for England twice in 1902, and also appeared for Oxford University. A graceful right-handed batsman, Palairet was frequently described as having one of the most attractive batting styles of his period. His obituary in The Times described him as "the most beautiful batsman of all time".The Times, Wednesday, Mar 29, 1933; pg. 6; Issue 46405; col D An unwillingness to tour during the English winter limited Palairet's Test appearances, contemporaries believed he deserved more Test caps.
Educated at Repton School, where he played in the cricket team for four years, captaining the side in the latter two, Palairet then went on to Oriel College, Oxford. He achieved his cricketing Blue in each of his four years at Oxford, and was selected to captain the side in each of 1892 and 1893. For Somerset, he frequently opened the batting with Herbie Hewett. In 1892, they shared a partnership of 346 for the first wicket, an opening stand that set a record for the County Championship and remains Somerset's highest first-wicket partnership.As of December 2012. In that season, Palairet made 1,343 runs at an average of more than 30, and was named as one of the "Five Batsmen of the Year" by Wisden.
Over the following decade, he was one of the leading amateur batsmen in England. He passed 1,000 first-class runs in a season on seven occasions, and struck two double centuries. His highest score, 292 runs against Hampshire in 1895, remained a record for a Somerset batsman until 1948. He played in the only two matches that the near-invincible Yorkshire team lost from 1900 to 1902. His only Test matches were the remarkably close fourth and fifth Tests against Australia in 1902: Australia won the fourth Test by three runs, and England won the fifth Test by one wicket. After 1904, he appeared infrequently for Somerset, though he played a full season in 1907 when he was chosen to captain the county. He retired from first-class cricket in 1909, having scored over 15,000 runs.
University and county cricketer
Palairet entered the first eleven for Oxford in his first year at the university, and made his first-class debut against the touring Australians in May 1890. Palairet scored six and zero and took one wicket in the match which Australia won by an innings. In his next match, Palairet improved, top-scoring for Oxford in their first innings against the Gentlemen with his first half century, 54 runs batting at number eight. He only passed fifty runs once more for Oxford that season, scoring 72 against the Marylebone Cricket Club, and finished the season with 285 runs at an average of 19.00. Batting averages that year were typically lower than usual due to the poor weather, and Palairet's average placed him fourth among Oxford's team; his 285 runs were the second-most of that group. Palairet won his Blue—the awarding of the Oxford "colours" to sportsmen—by appearing in the University match against Cambridge, in which he had little success, being out for zero and seventeen.Bolton (1962), pp. 133–135. Somerset that season played thirteen matches and won twelve of them and tied the other. Palairet played in ten of these matches and on his first appearance, scored a century against Leicestershire. Somerset's achievements led to their admission to first-class cricket for 1891.
Oxford's batting was described as unreliable during Palairet's second year at university. Palairet's batting average of 15.78 placed him fifth amongst his peers, and he once again struggled in the University match, scoring two and eleven.Bolton (1962), pp. 136–139. Although he generally batted as part of the middle order for Oxford, he invariably opened the innings for Somerset alongside his captain, Herbie Hewett. In this role he thrived for Somerset; his average for the county across his ten county matches was 31.11, placing him among the top ten batsmen in the County Championship. He scored his debut century in first-class cricket that year, scoring 100 runs against Gloucestershire. Palairet had agreed to tour North America with Lord Hawke's party, but he demurred late, and was replaced by Somerset team-mate Sammy Woods.
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