Frank Foster: All-rounder, captain and colourful

Frank Foster.jpg

Not related to the famous cricketing family of Worcestershire, Frank Foster was nevertheless perhaps the most successful of cricketers bearing that surname.Certainly the most colourful.

It was doubtful whether he would play the 1911 season. After becoming captain of Warwickshire he was torn between cricket and business engagements, coupled with forthcoming nuptials. But he did, and how?

The unfancied Warwickshire scripted magical win after magical win, and Foster hit explosive hundreds, a double hundred, took wickets by the truckload with his left-arm pace, made astute bowling changes. “All for one, one for all”, was the slogan he borrowed from the Musketeers of Dumas. The squad included a businessman, a Naval officer, a resentful former Test cricketer, a stockbroker, a solicitor … along with a boozer, a farm-labourer, a violinist, the groundsman’s son, and, someone who perhaps eventually influenced Foster to walk along his footsteps down the line — a type two syphilitic. And Warwickshire won the Championships to the surprise of all and sundry.

Down in Australia in the 1911-12 Ashes, he combined with the great SF Barnes like no other. England won 4-1, and Foster captured 32 wickets at 21.62 while putting in solid batting performances. His incoming deliveries at sharp pace worked like a charm on the hard wickets Down Under.

An accident in 1915 ensured he would not resume his career after the end of the War. But he remained tanatalisingly interesting, with stories of debauchery, syphilis, bounced cheques and even the suspicion of murder. However, it was his 1911-12 Ashes winning brain that Douglas Jardine picked while setting out on his 1932-33 Bodyline campaign.

Text: Arunabha Sengupta

Illustration: Maha