Frank Woolley – A Genuine All Rounder of Early 19th Century
First of all, the name of the player concerned was Frank Edward Woolley and not ‘Peter’ Woolley. Secondly, he never captained England in Test matches. However, Frank Woolley was one of the finest all- rounder’s, a left-hand batsman and left-arm medium or slow left-arm orthodox bowler, produced by England. Who excelled for his country’s team in the years before and after the First World War.
Frank Wolley was born in Tonbridge, Kent, on May 27, 1887. He naturally went on to play first-class cricket for his county Kent. From 1909 to 1934 he appeared in 64 Test matches for England. In these matches, Woolley scored 3,283 runs at an average of 36.07 with the highest of 154 among his five hundred and 23 half-centuries. As a close-in fielder, mostly in the slip region, he held 64 catches and captured 83 wickets at an average of 33.91. His best innings figures were 7-76 and in all, he took five or more in innings on four occasions and 10 wickets in a match once. Woolley had an impeccable record as a first-class cricketer.
He played at this level from 1906 until 1938, when he was, in fact, 51 years old. In 978 matches in first-class cricket, he totaled 58,959 runs (highest score 305 not out) at an average of 40.77 with 145 centuries (only six batsmen have scored more) and 295 fifties which places him second only on the list of the highest scorers ever, behind JB Hobbs who made 61,760 runs in an 834-match career from 1905 to 1934.
Frank Woolley bagged 2,066 first-class wickets at an average of just 19.87 with a best of 8-22. He took a five-for in an innings 132 times and 10 wickets in a match on 28 occasions. A record that Woolley established may never be surpassed. He is the only fielder in first-class cricket history to have taken 1,000 catches.
His career figure stands at 1,018 catches. Woolley died in Chester, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on October 18, 1978, at the age of 91 years 144 days. Claud Wolley, his elder brother also played for Northamptonshire. He was brilliant all-rounder, a left-hand batsman, and left-arm bowler.