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A profile of William Booth
by Dave Liverman and Kevin Morrill


Player:MW Booth

A career that started in that rich breeding ground for cricketers, Pudsey, Yorkshire, ended in tragic circumstances in the mud of the Somme 29 years later. Major William Booth (generally known as William) was an all-rounder whose strength tended perhaps more towards bowling than batting, despite his double century against Worcestershire (unusually his only century). He bowled medium fast with as Wisden stated in its obituary "a free natural action". He had a good break-back, but excelled in swerve, and pace off the pitch. As a batsman, he was aggressive. After honing his craft in Yorkshire league cricket, he was playing regularly for Yorkshire Second XI in 1907, and by 1909 was a regular member of the County side. In 1913 he took more wickets than any other bowler in England, and was chosen for the Players at Lord's and the tour squad for South Africa. He struggled in South Africa but took a couple of wickets in the first Test. With Barnes in stupendous form (49 wickets in the first four Tests), England barely needed any other bowlers until the Fifth Test. Booth had a good match - making 32 at number 10 and taking four wickets in the South African second innings. He took 141 wickets in his final season in 1914, and it is fair to say that he was entering his prime as a bowler. A tall, handsome engaging and popular cricketer, he was serving in the West Yorkshires when he met his untimely death.

 

On 1 July 1916 he went "over the top" followed a short while later by another wave of soldiers one of whom was Abe Waddington (later also Yorkshire and England). Waddington was hit and found himself in a shell hole with the fatally injured Booth. Waddington held Booth until he died. Stretcher bearers were able to rescue Waddington later in the day, but Booth's body remained in the shell hole until the following spring. Just before he died he received a battlefield commission so was known, rather unusually, as Second Lieutenant Major Booth.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 Dave Liverman)

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