Ted Peate: Great left-arm spinner and the clown cricketer


Ted Peate was blessed with the most perfect action. According to his Yorkshire captain Lord Hawke, “He had no theories. Nobody ever bowled more with his head … His only principle, with all his variations, was always to bowl with a length.”

Perhaps the first of a long line of Yorkshire left-arm spinning greats, Peate’s career was short but phenomenal. He captured 1076 wickets in First-Class cricket at 13 apiece. He performed creditably in the 9 Tests he played in as well, although he is more remembered for throwing his wicket away with a slog in the Birth of Ashes Test, and thereafter explaining that he “Could not trust Mr Studd” to get the runs.

Early in his career, Peate had joined Treloar’s Clown Cricketers in 1875 as a professional. During his one year with the troupe, the ‘Clown Cricketers’ reportedly played 63 games. They consisted of were eight acrobats, eight talking clowns, and eight cricketers.

The public loved them, but MCC had their reservations. MCC Secrtary RA Fitzgerald stated that they were a burlesque upon cricket that could not be tolerated at Lord’s Ground.

Luckily, Peate was a clown cricketer for only that solitary year, and had dissociated himself sufficiently from the curious group before being recruited by Yorkshire.

Ted Peate was born on March 2, 1855.

Text: Arunabha Sengupta

Illustration: Maha