Tom Goddard (1 October 1900, Gloucester, England - 22 May 1966, Gloucester, England; in full
Thomas William John Goddard or simply
Thomas William Goddard) was the fifth highest
wicket taker in first-class cricket.
Joining Gloucestershire in 1922 as a fast bowler
, Goddard met with so little success
in his first six years that he was not re-engaged by
Gloucestershire for 1928. However, determined to succeed, he joined the
ground staff at Lord's and switched
to off spin.
With his massive hands
and steep bounce due to his height (about 190 centimetres or six
feet three inches), he was an immediate success and Gloucestershire
re-engaged him for 1929. Even on the best of wickets Goddard was
able to turn the ball substantially, and when the turf was worn or
sticky he could spin to a remarkable degree. Owing to his high
trajectory, he could be easy to hit (it is estimated he was hit for
a season between 1934
and 1938), and it is probable that this is why he was so expensive
against the incomparable 1948 Australian side, and in some cases in
county cricket. He played only once against Australia (in 1930) and
only eight times against all countries - for much of Goddard's
time, Hedley Verity
was the preferred
England spin bowler, and it is often thought that leg spinners
rather than off spinners were favoured
at this time in Tests
. His successes in
the matches he played (he did a hat-trick
against South Africa in 1938-39) suggests he might have done well
with more opportunities.
In 1929, his first season as a spinner, he took 184 wickets, and
over 140 in the following two years. With Charlie Parker
, he formed the
most lethal bowling combination in county cricket, and, aided by
the brilliant batting and catching of Wally Hammond
, Gloucestershire had their most
successful (though brief) era, finishing fourth in 1929, second in
1930 and second in 1931.
Goddard was forced to become Gloucestershire's chief bowler when
the seemingly ageless Parker finally declined for good in 1932.
Except in 1934 and 1938 when injuries handicapped him, and in 1948
when he lost form, Goddard took over 150 wickets in every season
between 1932 and 1949, heading the first-class bowling averages in
1947 and 1949. In 1937 and 1947 (aided in the latter case by a sand
dressing on the Bristol pitch that made the ball turn
prodigiously), Goddard took 222 wickets for Gloucestershire, and
fell two short of 250 wickets in all first-class matches in 1937.
His haul of 206 wickets in the 1947 County Championship will
forever stand as the last case of 200 wickets in a season in that
competition. With much slower over-rates and fewer matches, few
bowlers today can take a third as many wickets.
Among his best bowling feats for Gloucestershire were:
- 17 for 106 against Kent at Bristol in
- 16 for 99 against Worcestershire at Bristol in 1939
- 16 for 181 (10 for 113 in second innings) against Worcestershire
at Cheltenham in 1937
- 15 for 107 (9 for 20 to finish match) on a "pitch of easy pace"
against Derbyshire at Bristol in 1949.
- 9 for 37 against Leicestershire at Bristol in 1934
- 9 for 82 against Surrey at Cheltenham in 1946
- 9 for 21 against Cambridge University at Cheltenham in 1929
In 1951, at the age of fifty, Goddard was forced to retire due to
an attack of pneumonia
, but because he wanted so desperately to
reach the 3000 wickets mark, he came back for fourteen matches in
1952, before injury ended his career for good at 51 years of age
and 2,979 wickets.
After he retired, Goddard ran a furniture shop in his home city of
Gloucester, right up to his death in 1966.