Sydney Barnes

The only man selected for England while playing minor cricket, Syd Barnes may be the greatest of all bowlers.

b. 19 April 1873, d. 26 December 1967 - England
Played cricket for England

The Greatest Bowler - Ever

A tall, right-arm fast-medium bowler Syd Barnes had a unique armory, which consistently confounded the finest batsmen of the time. Such was his guile, stamina and command it mattered not to the England selectors that he played for his native Staffordshire in the various Leagues of the region rather than the mainstream county competition. They chose him 27 times between 1901 and 1914 and his 189 wickets at 16.43 are unrivalled for consistency and economy. His 34 wickets at 22.8 gave England emphatic victory in Australia in 1911-12 and he was the outstanding bowler of the 1912 Triangular Test series with Australia and South Africa. An uncompromising competitor blessed with long, strong fingers he bewildered batsman with his cut, swing and spin and subtle changes of pace. His record of 3,741 wickets at 6.68 over 38 years in the Leagues defies belief. He played to 61.

'The greatest bowler who ever lived.' Richie Benaud
'His most deadly weapon was the 'Barnes ball' which pitched on the stumps between leg and middle and then turned sharply to threaten the off-stump or find the edge of the bat... by ceaseless application during those early years... Barnes had achieved the great dream of every bowler, the ability to deliver an accurate leg-break at true pace.' Benny Green

The Stats

  • Tests
  • 47
  • Batting Stats
  • Aggregate:  242
  • Highest Score: 38*
  • Centuries: 0
  • Average: 8.07
  • Bowling Stats
  • Wickets: 189
  • Best bowling: 17/159
  • Runs: 3,106
  • Average: 16.43

Sydney Barnes was the first cricketer to master the science of bowling. A great innovator with the ball and possessing an unwavering determination, he reduced the best batsmen of the day to defensive play. He successfully matched his physical strength and stamina with guile and the ability to adapt to changing conditions. His legendary strong-mindedness was both an asset and a liability, with him often falling foul of the authorities, which in turn limited his Test career.

Did you know?

Syd Barnes began his Test career with 5/65 in the innings (including Trumper, Hill and Darling). Twelve years later, in his last performance, and aged nearly 41, he took 7/88 (and 14/144 in the match)

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