Top centuries at Elizabeth College Field – #1 H T Bartlett

In a new cricket nostalgia series Rob Batiste revisits six of the finest College Field centuries, starting with perhaps the biggest individual innings of all.

‘Bartlett’s show of brilliance’                 Guernsey Press      25th June 2022

The College Field has not seen anything quite like it, before or since. When the legendary Garry Sobers visited in 1968 the local crowds witnessed some savage hitting and a flat six that had the locals gaping. But even Sobers could not I replicate what Hugh Bartlett I dished out in the same beautiful sporting surroundings three I decades earlier. It was 1938, the dark clouds of war were gathering, and the Sussex ‘Jessop’ was in the form of his life. He arrived on island as the talk of the English game for his blistering hitting and left a few days later having forever I stamped his mark on the poor local GlCC bowlers who had tried to tame the left-hander. In truth, they failed miserably.

Bartlett, who just a few days earlier had taken a century off Bradman’s Australians in just 57 minutes, picked up where he left off at Hove and batting four for the touring Arabs CC, proceeded to crash 226 of the visitors’ 334 all out. It did not help H V Stone’s GlCC that they dropped the county star five or six times and by the end the soon-to-be England tourist had walloped two sixes and 33 fours.

So, who was Bartlett or, as the respectful Guernsey Press referred to him, H T Bartlett, at a time when Players and Gentlemen still existed in the county game? The Indian-born, Dulwich College-educated cricketer had won his blue at Cambridge four years earlier. He was every inch a gentleman and happy to accept the Arabs tour invite from the club’s founder and celebrated opening batsman, the Daily Telegraph journalist and BBC radio commentator, E W Swanton. Bartlett’s 157 in two hours against the mighty Aussies, contained six sixes and 18 fours. It won him the Lawrence Trophy for the fastest century of the summer.

Six weeks previously Bartlett had played another memorable innings, 175 not out for the Gentlemen against the Players in the showpiece contest at Lord’s, setting up a rare victory for the amateurs. On that occasion he hit 24 fours and four sixes during his 165 minutes at the crease, one hit off Essex fast bowler Nichols depositing the ball in a grandstand turret. By the summer’s end his tally of 1,548 first-class runs at 57.33 – fifth in the national averages – earned him a place in the MCC team which toured South Africa that winter, but although he averaged 51 and scored 100 against Orange Free State in the third first-class match, he could not force his way into the Test side, runs pouring from English bats in a high-scoring series. He was selected, too for the 1939-40 MCC side to India, a tour abandoned when war broke out. After the Second World War he captained Sussex from 1947 to 1949 before leaving after a disagreement with the committee. His full first-class figures were 10,098 runs at 31.95, with 16 centuries, the highest 183 for Cambridge University against Notts at Fenner’s in 1935. He was a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1939, and became Sussex president from 1977 to 1979.

As for the Swanton-formed nomadic Arabs club, they had been in existence just three years when Swanton brought them to Guernsey, one of many tours he led them on, including the West Indies, Malaya and the Far East. Many a noted cricketer has played for Swanton’s club, including former test players Gubby Allen, Jack Fingleton, Tony Lewis and Richard Hutton. JP Getty also turned out for them and they continue to this day. As for the men who suffered at Bartlett’s hands that early September day 84 summers ago, it was a handy GlCC ‘Island’ side that took Swanton’s men on. Skipper H V Stone was as good a batsman Guernsey produced either side of the Occupation years, and was known for hitting the ball hard. Jack Reddish, the renowned College sports master and cricket coach, would occasionally don his whites and show why his right-hand batting and leg-breaks had earned him a first-class appearance for Nottinghamshire eight years earlier. Left-arm spinner Hilary Rich was the best of his kind in the 1930s, Frank Stroobant was a leading local player for decades and the side that played Arabs was bolstered by the Elizabeth College pace duo of William Watling and Brian Rose, perhaps as good a new-ball attack as the ‘school’ has ever had. How tragic that the pair would be killed in action so soon after leaving Elizabeth.

Match report

MAGNIFICENT batting by HT Bartlett, the hard-hitting Sussex left-hander and scorer of the fastest century in first-class cricket this season, was the chief feature of the play on Monday in the match which opened at the College Field between the GICC and the Arabs CC. Bartlett scored a century and spectators who hoped for a spectacular exhibition from him were not disappointed.

The Island batted first and were dismissed before lunch for 73. Then the home bowlers did good work to get three Arab wickets for 27, but this was the end of their success for a long while for Bartlett and Tindall were associated in a grand century stand.

At 2 o’clock Swanton and Hotchkins came out to open the Arab innings. Facing the bowling of Stroobant and Watling, they began to score steadily, but at 17 Hotchkins who had never been quite so at home as his partner, was clean bowled by Stroobant. Boughey came in to partner Swanton, but had a very short stay indeed. Before he had scored, he was deceived by a ball from Watling and clean bowled. Two Arab wickets were down for 18 and then watched interestedly by spectators dotted around the ground, H T Bartlett came to the wicket to join Swanton. Swanton had never seemed really comfortable. He had given two chances so far, one a fast catch off the edge off his bat to Stroobant. It was hardly surprising therefore to see him, after he had been at the wicket for 30 minutes and 12 runs, push an easy catch into Rose’s hands at silly mid-off. Bartlett started very quietly indeed.

He treated the bowling very much on its merits and scored only three singles off the first 15 or so balls bowled to him. He was joined by Tindall at 27 for 3. The Island bowlers had so far done exceedingly well in keeping batsmen of the visitors’ ability in check. Joined now by Tindall, an aggressive bat, Bartlett began to increase his rate of scoring and got Watling away to the boundary with a glorious on-drive. The over conceded eight runs, more than any other in the innings so far. After he had bowled six overs Stroobant was taken off and replaced by Rose at the pavilion end. The score continued to mount steadily and with Bartlett cracking anything approaching a loose ball it was obvious that if they were to maintain their grip on the game the Island bowlers would soon have to capture another wicket.

Watling was still on at the Rue a l’Or end, keeping a very consistent length. Tindall, however, succeeded in cutting him to the King’s road boundary.

Gradually the GICC total was approached and after he had been at the wicket for some 30 minutes Bartlett gave some idea of what he was capable of in the way of hitting, by pulling a ball from Watling to the leg boundary and then driving the next ball high in the air over the bowler’s head to within a foot of the boundary.

Although he occasionally cracked a loose ball, Bartlett still seemed unable to completely get hold of the bowling and on one or two occasions edged a ball rather dangerously, He and Tindall remained together, however, and soon after three o’clock the Island total was passed, the Arabs still having seven wickets in hand. When he had bowled 10 overs from the Rue a l’Or end and was beginning to prove rather expensive Watling was taken off and replaced by Reddish. Three times during the first over he bowled, however, Bartlett succeeded in turning the new bowler to leg, collecting in all seven runs. Shortly after Bartlett had a ‘life’.

He hit out at a ball from Rose and dashing along the boundary, Laine just failed to hold a high catch. Bartlett’s score was then in his thirties and when after 73 minutes the century was sent up, he began to open his shoulders in no uncertain manner and dancing down the wicket at practically every ball, hit five boundaries in two overs from Reddish and Rose. Rich was brought on at the pavilion end and succeeded in quietening down the Sussex hitter for a time, but after taking careful stock of the new bowler’s ability, settled down to quick scoring again and finally when he had been at the wicket for a little under an hour completed his half-century.

He had, incidentally, been scoring at only half the speed at which he punished the Australian bowling recently. There was no stopping him now that his eye was in. He was hitting at everything and it was only brilliant fielding near the boundary that kept his rate of scoring at a moderate rate. Bartlett’s innings had now developed into easily the most interesting and exciting to be seen at the College Field this year. Time after time he hit the bowling all over the field and then crowned his efforts with one of the biggest hits in memory. He pulled a ball from Rich not only out of the ground but across Rue a l’Or and into a neighbouring field, collecting in all 19 runs in one over at the expense of the unfortunate Rich.

In an effort to break the fourth wicket partnership Stone himself came on at the pavilion end and during his first over Bartlett survived an appeal for a stumping after which he began to score at a more moderate rate. Although, of course, rather overshadowed by his hard-hitting partner, Tindall had all this time been playing a very fine innings and finally when he had been batting for 66 minutes he completed his half-century – a chanceless knock. The pair seemed completely immovable until Watling was brought back at the Rue a l’Or end and in his first over clean bowled Tindall who had then made 59. The partnership had put on 152 out of a total of 179 runs. Watling, not content with minor sensations, clean bowled Hurford-Jones, the new batsman, with his very next ball.

Bartlett’s century had obviously only been a matter of time and although he quietened down considerably when in the nineties, he finally reached three figures 93 minutes after coming to the wicket and only 35 minutes after completing his half-century. Joining Bartlett, Graham sent the 200 up but very soon was caught and bowled by Watling and tea was taken at 4.15 with the score at 214 for 6. Before he had settled down after tea, Bartlett was given a third ‘life’ of his innings, this time he was dropped by Reddish at backward point off Reddish. Two overs later he was again dropped, this time right on the boundary by Westwood.

The seventh wicket was not long in falling with 218 on the board, Stone caught Heyward after he had been beaten by pace by Stroobant. Ruck-Keene was soon dismissed but Young stayed with Bartlett while he did very much what he liked with the bowling. Boundaries were hit in every direction, as many as 13 and 14 runs coming off every over. The 250 and 300 were sent up and, finally, after 250 minutes at the wicket, Bartlett, now a run-getting machine doing as he liked with the tired bowling, reached his double century.

At last, when he had made 226 – probably the highest individual score ever made at the College Field – Bartlett was out, caught on the boundary by Luyt off Westwood. very soon after the innings closed at 334, Watling taking 7 wickets for 78 runs – a very meritorious feat.

The GICC opened their second innings shortly before 6 o’clock and in 35 minutes lost two wickets, those of Strachan and Reddish, for 56 runs.


When Laine and Luyt continued their overnight innings GICC needed 205 runs to avert an innings defeat. With the score at 117 for 8 heavy rain stopped play. This was at 12.50 and no further play was possible before lunch which was taken at 1 o’clock. With heavy rain still falling at 2 o’clock it was decided to abandon the match.

GICC 1st innings

J O Laine b Swanton 17

J Reddish run out 15

R E Luyt c Young b Graham 0

J Westwood b Brocklebank 13

H V Stone b Hayward 16

F H Balleine lbw b Hayward 5

H F Rich c Graham b Brocklebank 7

W C Watling b Brocklebank 0

B W Rose not out 0

F E Stroobant b Hayward 0

D Strachan dnb

Extras 0

Total 73

Swanton 6-1-17-1

Graham 7-2-20-1

Hayward 7-2-29-3

Brocklebank 5-2-7-3

Arabs CC 1st innings

E W Swanton c Rose b Watling 12

N S Hotchkins b Stroobant 12

J F Boughey b Watling 0

H T Bartlett c Luyt b Westwood 226

R G Tindall b Watling 59

T G Hurford-Jones b Watling 0

D I Graham c and b Watling 5

D R Hayward c Stone b Stroobant 1

G Ruck-Keene lbw b Watling 0

A J N Young c Westwood b Watling 9

J M Brocklebank not out 2

Extras 8

Total 334

Watling 19.4-3-87-7

Stroobant 14-1-63-2

Rose 7-0-44-0

Reddish 6-0-56-0

Rich 2-0-27-0

Stone 4-0-35-0

Westwood 2-0-14-1

GICC 2nd innings

D Strachan b Swanton 10

J Reddish lbw b Swanton 19

J O Laine c Hayward b Brocklebank 27

R E Luyt b Hayward 19

H V Stone c Boughey b Hayward 0

J Westwood lbw b Brocklebank 1

F H Balleine st Young b Swanton 21

H F Rich lbw b Hayward 9

W C Watling not out 8

B W Rose not out 0

Extras 3

Total (for 8 wkts) 117