Arthur Mold

Arthur Mold
Arthur Mold
Ranji 1897 page 090 Mold delivering the ball.jpg
Mold delivering the ball
Personal information
Full name Arthur Webb Mold
Born 27 May 1863(1863-05-27)
Middleton Cheney, Northamptonshire, England
Died 29 April 1921(1921-04-29) (aged 57)
Middleton Cheney, Northamptonshire, England
Batting style Right-handed batsman
Bowling style Right arm fast
International information
National side English
Test debut (cap 84) 17 July 1893 v Australia
Last Test 26 August 1893 v Australia
Domestic team information
Years Team
1889–1901 Lancashire
Career statistics
Competition Tests First-class
Matches 3 287
Runs scored 0 1,850
Batting average 0.00 7.14
100s/50s 0/0 0/2
Top score 0* 57
Balls bowled 491 62278
Wickets 7 1,673
Bowling average 33.42 15.54
5 wickets in innings 0 152
10 wickets in match 0 56
Best bowling 3/44 9/29
Catches/stumpings 1/0 111/0
Source: [1], 25 September 2011

Arthur Webb Mold (29 May 1863 – 29 April 1921) was an English professional cricketer who played first-class cricket for Lancashire County Cricket Club between 1889 and 1901. He played three Test matches for England in 1893 and was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1892. A fast bowler, he was one of the most effective bowlers in England during the 1890s. However, his career was overshadowed by controversy over his bowling action. Many critics thought he threw rather than bowled the ball, and he was one of several bowlers at the time about whom there were suspicions. The controversy peaked when Mold was no-balled for throwing by Jim Phillips, an umpire who had no-balled several prominent bowlers. Phillips no-balled Mold once in 1900; then in 1901, Mold was no-balled 16 times by Phillips on the opening morning of a match. Mold's reputation was ruined and after a few more appearances in 1901, he retired at the end of the season. After his departure from the game, throwing ceased to be a problem in English cricket for 50 years.


Early life and career

Mold was born on 27 May 1863 in the village of Middleton Cheney in Northamptonshire.[1] His family had links with the thatching trade, but Mold pursued a career in professional cricket.[2] He began to play cricket for the village side, making good progress as a bowler; in 1882, the Middleton Cheney were unbeaten and Mold had the best bowling average in the team.[2] In 1885 and 1886, he played as a paid professional at Banbury Cricket Club. In one match in his second year, he played against Free Foresters, a prestigious amateur team, for whom two Lancashire cricketers were appearing. They were impressed by Mold's bowling, and in 1887 Mold was employed by Manchester cricket club.[2] After he also played a few non first-class cricket matches for Lancashire that season, Northamptonshire, at the time not a first-class county, asked Mold to represent their team.[3] Playing as a professional,[4] Mold was immediately successful, taking ten wickets in a game against a team from Surrey and seven wickets for 22 runs (seven for 22) in an innings against Staffordshire.[3][5] Although he continued to play for Northamptonshire in the following season, he aimed to represent Lancashire.[3] At the time, players who wished to play for a county in which they were not born had to live there for two years before they qualified.[6] As well as for Northamptonshire, Mold played professional cricket for Enfield and Skipton, in both cases opposing Burnley.[7][8] He also played for Nelson against Burnley in 1889.[9]

Mold made his first-class debut for Lancashire in a match against Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) on 9 May 1889, taking one wicket in a drawn match.[5] Throughout the rest of the season, Mold impressed critics.[3] His best performance statistically was seven for 35 against Yorkshire County Cricket Club, in a match in which he took 13 wickets.[5] In all matches against county opposition, Mold took 80 wickets at an average of 11.69;[3] in all first-class matches he took 102 wickets at an average of 11.81.[10] This placed him third in the national bowling averages.[3] Although less successful in 1890, he took 80 county wickets at an average of 14.49,[3] and 118 wickets in all first-class games at 14.72,[10] which was eleventh in the averages.[3] His best figures, nine for 41, once more came against Yorkshire.[5] In the first official season of the County Championship, Lancashire finished in second place.[11]

Leading bowler

Mold established himself as one of the leading bowlers in England during 1891. According to Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, "The season of 1891 brought him a great increase of reputation, and all through the summer he was uniformly successful."[3] In all first-class matches, he took 138 wickets at 12.49 and in nearly half of the innings in which he bowled, he took five or more wickets.[5][10] As a result of his performances in the season, he was chosen as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year.[notes 1][3] Lancashire finished as runners-up once again.[11]

In 1892, Mold's aggregate of wickets fell to 120 at an average of 13.63,[10] but he had the best bowling figures of his career when he took nine for 29 against Kent and he was chosen in a representative match for the first time when he played for the North against the South.[5] During the 1893 season, Mold took 166 wickets at 16.96;[10] at the end of the season, The Times described him as a great bowler and noted that he and Johnny Briggs were the only two effective bowlers for Lancashire.[13] As well as once more representing the North, this time in a match against the touring Australian team, Mold made his debut in the prestigious Gentlemen against Players match, playing for the professional "Players" and taking nine wickets in the game.[5] He also made his international debut, playing for England in all three Test matches against Australia, the only such appearances of his career. In the first game, he took three for 44 in Australia's only innings, his best figures of the series, and took four wickets in the other two matches to finish with seven wickets at an average of 33.42.[1][5] It is likely that doubts about the legality of his bowling action prevented him from playing further Test matches, or touring Australia.[14][15]

Mold continued to increase his number of wickets in the next seasons. In 1894, he again represented the North and the Players, took 207 wickets in total at an average of 12.30, and again came close to taking five wickets in half the innings in which he bowled.[5][10] The following year, he reached his highest seasonal tally with 213 wickets at 15.96,[10] and made his final appearance for the Players.[5] The Times commented that Mold and Briggs were effective as a pair of opening bowlers and said: "Mold preserves all his pace and break in bowling, and his success on the hard wickets was phenomenal."[16] Although Mold appeared for the North against the Australians, who toured again in 1896, Mold did not play any Tests or other representative cricket that year and his wicket total fell to 150 at 18.12;[5][10] after this season, his bowling began to decline in effectiveness.[14] He failed to reach 100 wickets in the season for the first time when he took 98 in 1897, and his 90 wickets in 1898 were taken at an average over 20, the only time his bowling average was so high. He improved his statistics in 1899 with 115 wickets at 18.68.[10] The following year, he was awarded a benefit match by Lancashire which raised £2,050, a record at the time.[2]

Throwing controversy

Photograph of a man in a suit
Sydney Pardon, the editor of Wisden, condemned Mold in print on several occasions.


For many years in England, there had been controversy over bowling actions; several bowlers were believed to throw rather than bowl the ball.[notes 2][19] Lancashire had a particularly poor reputation among other county teams for utilising bowlers who threw: by the early 1880s, up to four of Lancashire's main bowlers were judged to be unfair, including John Crossland who bowled very quickly. By the mid 1880s, several other teams refused to play Lancashire on account of their bowling attack.[20] Mainly through the actions of Lord Harris, many of the suspect bowlers were forced out of cricket, and bowling actions became more legitimate. However, some players continued to bowl with questionable actions, including some in the Lancashire team.[20] The matter became more serious in 1896, when two of the Australian touring team, Ernie Jones and Tom McKibbin, appeared to throw the ball regularly; Sydney Pardon, the editor of Wisden, wrote: "The mortifying fact was that the illegal bowling was due entirely to our own weakness in not having the laws of the game carried out. The Australians only did against us what we had over and over again done against them."[18]

Following the 1896 tour, the English authorities realised action needed to be taken. Jim Phillips, an Australian-born umpire who travelled each year between his native country and England, travelled to Australia with an English touring team.[21] During two of the matches he umpired, Phillips no-balled Ernie Jones for throwing.[notes 3] Upon returning to England for the 1898 season, Phillips also no-balled C. B. Fry, a prominent amateur cricketer and all-round sportsman, for throwing. This was the second of three occasions in the season that Fry was no-balled. Other umpires, following Phillips' lead no-balled Fry and Frank Hopkins.[20][22][23] Two further bowlers, albeit not famous cricketers, were no-balled in 1899.[22][24]

A cricket ready to receive the ball
Archie MacLaren, the Lancashire captain, supported Mold throughout the controversy.

Mold called for throwing

During the 1900 season, Fry was once more no-balled at the beginning of June, this time by William West.[24][25][24] But the concerted action against throwing reached a peak when Phillips umpired the match between Nottinghamshire and Lancashire in Nottingham on 26 June.[5]Early on the first morning of the three-day match, Mold came on to bowl when Nottinghamshire had scored 34. In his first over, Phillips twice no-balled him for throwing. Lancashire's captain, Archie MacLaren, withdrew Mold from the bowling attack at the end of the over and he did not bowl again in the match.[notes 4][26] However, MacLaren later defended Mold in the press.[28] The match reports in both The Times and Wisden commented that Mold had been lucky never to be no-balled before in his career,[24][26] but he was the most high profile bowler to be no-balled in the Phillips-led crackdown on bowling actions.[29] Mold played another nine times in 1900 without being no-balled for throwing,[5][22] but he did not play in any of the Lancashire matches umpired by Phillips.[23][30] However, Phillips no-balled the Somerset bowler Ted Tyler later in the season.[22] By the end of the season, Mold had taken 97 wickets at 14.01.[10]

That December, at their annual meeting at Lord's Cricket Ground, the captains of the first-class counties discussed the problem of throwing.[28] They voted by a majority of eleven to one that Mold's action was unfair,[29][31] and that along with other bowlers whose actions were suspected, he should not bowl in the coming season.[32] The captains further recommended that bowlers with illegal actions should be banned, suspended or warned depending on the severity of their transgression.[28] However, the meeting proved controversial, and disputes arose over how many captains had supported the decision. Some critics believed that the captains should not have passed judgement at all. The Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), responsible for the laws of cricket and the organisation of the English game, were asked to adjudicate by several county committees.[32] Reluctant to let the decision stand, the MCC overruled the decision, preferring to leave the matter to individual umpires to decide.[32][28]

Mold continued to play for Lancashire at the start of the 1901 season, but he missed two matches in which Phillips was the umpire,[5][30] wishing to avoid a confrontation. However, Lancashire were criticised by the public for omitting Mold from these matches; consequently, he played in the game against Somerset umpired by Phillips, which started on 11 July at Old Trafford Cricket Ground.[5][23] Under the captaincy of MacLaren, Mold opened the attack and bowled with Phillips at square leg and Phillips no-balled Mold for throwing. Acting at the request of the Lancashire committee, MacLaren then switched Mold to bowl from the opposite end so that Phillips would be at the bowler's end. Even so, Phillips continued to no-ball him, and after 10 overs, Mold had been no-balled 16 times by Phillips. MacLaren removed Mold from the attack, although he returned to bowl later without Phillips taking further action.[33] For the remainder of the match, Mold bowled from Phillips' end without censure;[34] Phillips believed he had made his point.[35] According to Wisden, Phillips' actions caused "a great sensation ... The incident naturally gave rise to much excitement, and for the next few days nothing else was talked about in the cricket world."[35] At the conclusion of the match, Mitchell and Kenyon, a film-making company based in Blackburn, filmed the players leaving the field and took footage of Mold bowling in the nets.[36] Phillips received criticism for his actions and Mold had some support in the press.[31] But Mold's Times obituary noted: "Mold did not lack defenders, but those who argued that he was, and always had been, a perfectly fair bowler, had a very bad case. The weight of expert evidence was overwhelmingly against them."[37]


In December 1901, the MCC approved the scheme previously suggested: that the county captains should meet to discuss the fairness of suspected bowlers. It was proposed that any bowler who was judged to be unfair by a two-to-one majority of captains would be banned for at least a season. The MCC also recommended that the counties did not play suspected bowlers and that any bowler called for throwing should be removed from the attack in the interests of the spirit of cricket.[28][31] In the 1902 Wisden, Sydney Pardon wrote: "Never in the last twenty years or more has there been so little unfair or doubtful bowling as in the season of 1901. Indeed the improvement was so marked as to make it clear that, if the captains stick to their guns, we shall soon be entirely free from the evil of which not very long ago it seemed impossible to get rid."[31] After 1901, there were only isolated incidents regarding illegal bowling actions until the Second World War,[28][29] and the problem faded:[15] no cricketer was no-balled for throwing in English first-class between 1908 and 1952.[22]

Final years and death

Mold played another three matches in 1901 without being no-balled, but his reputation was ruined and he retired at the end of the season.[5][29] In this final season, he took 59 wickets at 19.35.[10] In his first-class career, he took 1,673 wickets at an average of 15.54.[1] Subsequently, Mold returned to play for Northamptonshire in 1903,[5] and played league cricket in his native county.[1] In his retirement, he became the landlord of a public house, took up shooting as a hobby and looked after his ailing mother. After a long illness, he died on 29 April 1921 in Middleton Cheney, the village in which he had been born.[14]

Style and technique

A fast bowler who operated from a very short run-up,[29] Mold bowled extremely quickly, releasing the ball with his arm very high. Unusually for a bowler of his pace, he could make the ball deviate from straight, either through seam movement or cutting his fingers over it before release. If the pitch was uneven or otherwise difficult for batting, he was extremely difficult to bat against:[3] in 1892, Wisden noted: "On anything like a rough or bumpy wicket he is, beyond all question, the most difficult and dangerous bowler of the day, the ball getting up from the pitch so high and so fast as to intimidate all but the very pluckiest of batsmen."[3] The Times later noted that he was very successful for Lancashire and a difficult bowler to face.[37]

Mold was popular with other cricketers. The Times said: "Apart from the burning question of throwing, not a word could be said against him. He was liked by all his brother professionals, and popular wherever he played."[37] However, his achievements were always qualified by suspicion over the legality of his bowling action, even before he was no-balled by Phillips. A batsman who played against him when he first appeared for Northamptonshire said: "If he is fair he is the best bowler in England, but I think he is a worse thrower than ever Crossland [the Lancashire bowler of the 1880s with a suspect bowling action] was."[14] His Times obituary stated: "He was a deadly fast bowler, but, all through his career, even his best feats in the cricket field were spoken of with something of apology".[37]


  1. ^ The title of "Cricketer of the Year" was not used in the first few years of the award. Mold was a "Bowler of the Year", but this is classed as being a "Cricketer of the Year".[12]
  2. ^ The 1884 Laws of Cricket, and their subsequent revision in 1894 stated: "The ball must be bowled; if thrown or jerked the umpire shall call no ball".[17] Some critics noted it was difficult to tell the difference between a legitimate delivery and a throw, to which Sydney Pardon responded: "A throw may be difficult to define in words, but to the eye of a practical and unbiassed cricketer it is, I think, very obvious".[18]
  3. ^ To be no-balled ("called") for throwing meant the umpire judged that the bowler had thrown, rather than bowled, the ball. The umpire called no ball; an extra delivery would have to be bowled and the batting team were awarded a run. The batsman could not be dismissed from a no ball except through a run out.[17]
  4. ^ Phillips, one of the usual two umpires in the match, was standing at the batsman's end of the pitch (i.e. the square leg umpire). Up until 1899, only the umpire facing the batsman could call no ball. In 1899, the law was changed so that either umpire could adjudge a no ball.[26][27]


  1. ^ a b c d "Arthur Mold (ESPNCricinfo profile)". ESPNCricinfo. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d Ambrose, p. 29.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Arthur Mold (Bowler of the Year)". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. London: John Wisden & Co. 1892. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  4. ^ "Cricket: Lancashire v Northamptonshire". The Times (London): p. 6. 18 June 1887.  At the time, a scorecard denoted a player as a professional by giving their name without a title. Amateurs always had "Mr." before their name. In this case, the player is recorded as just "Mold".
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Player Oracle AW Mold". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  6. ^ McKinstry, Leo (2011). Jack Hobbs: England's Greatest Cricketer. London: Yellow Jersey Press. pp. 46–50. ISBN 978-0-224-08329-4. 
  7. ^ "Enfield v Burnley in 1888". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "Skipton v Burnley in 1888". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  9. ^ "Nelson v Burnley in 1889". CricketArchive. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "First-class Bowling in Each Season by Arthur Mold". CricketArchive. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  11. ^ a b "LV County Championship: County Championship Final Positions 1890–2010". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (2010 ed.). John Wisden & Co. p. 575. ISBN 9781408124666. 
  12. ^ "Wisden Almanack 1892". ESPNCricinfo. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "County Cricket In 1893". The Times (London): p. 6. 31 August 1893. 
  14. ^ a b c d Pardon, Sydney (1922). "Arthur Mold (Obituary)". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. London: John Wisden & Co. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Haigh, Gideon (July 2004). "The great taboo". ESPNCricinfo. Retrieved 24 September 2011. 
  16. ^ "County Cricket In 1895: Lancashire". The Times (London): p. 10. 4 September 1895. 
  17. ^ a b "Laws of Cricket 1884 Code - as Revised in 1894". ESPNCricinfo. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  18. ^ a b Pardon, Sydney (1901). "Notes by the Editor". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. London: John Wisden & Co. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  19. ^ Brodribb, p. 155.
  20. ^ a b c Brodribb, p. 156.
  21. ^ "James Phillips (Obituary)". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. London: John Wisden & Co. 1931. Retrieved 21 September 2011. 
  22. ^ a b c d e Frindall, Bill, ed (1986). The Wisden Book of Cricket Records. London: MacDonald Queen Anne Press. p. 292. ISBN 0-356-10736-1. 
  23. ^ a b c Williamson, Martin (30 May 2006). "A question of degree". ESPNCricinfo. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  24. ^ a b c d Birley, p. 176.
  25. ^ "Sussex v Gloucestershire in 1900". Cricketarchive. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  26. ^ a b c "Nottinghamshire v Lancashire". The Times (London): p. 12. 26 June 1900. 
  27. ^ "Laws of Cricket 1884 Code - as Revised in 1899". ESPNCricinfo. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  28. ^ a b c d e f Birley, p. 177.
  29. ^ a b c d e Brodribb, p. 157.
  30. ^ a b "James Phillips as Umpire in First-Class Matches". Cricketarchive. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  31. ^ a b c d Pardon, Sydney (1902). "Notes by the Editor". Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. London: John Wisden & Co. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  32. ^ a b c Ambrose, p. 30.
  33. ^ "Cricket: Lancashire v Somerset". The Times (London): p. 11. 12 July 1901. 
  34. ^ "Cricket: Lancashire v Somerset". The Times (London): p. 14. 13 July 1901. 
  35. ^ a b Green, Benny, ed (1982). "The County Matches (Lancashire)". Wisden Anthology 1900–1940. London: Queen Anne Press. p. 126. ISBN 0-7472-0706-2. 
  36. ^ Ambrose, p. 31.
  37. ^ a b c d "Death of Arthur Mold". The Times (London): p. 7. 30 April 1921. 


  • Ambrose, Don (2005). "Arthur Webb Mold". The Cricket Statistician (Nottingham: Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians) (130): 29–32. 
  • Birley, Derek (1999). A Social History of English Cricket. London: Aurum Press. ISBN 1-85410-941-3. 
  • Brodribb, Gerald (1995). Next Man In: A Survey of Cricket Laws and Customs. London: Souvenir Press. ISBN 0-285-63294-9. 

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