The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Spofforth, Frederick Robert
Spofforth, Frederick Robert, the famous cricketer, more familiarly known under the sobriquet of the "Demon Bowler," is a Yorkshireman by descent, and is a nephew of Mr. Markham Spofforth, who was well known as a solicitor and election manager for the English Tory party. His father emigrated to Sydney, N.S.W., and was highly esteemed in banking circles there. Mr. Spofforth was born at Balmain, near Sydney, on Sept. 9th, 1855, and was educated at Eglinton College, Sydney. He played with the Newtown Club in 1871-2, and subsequently with the Albert Club in the New South Wales metropolis. At first he was almost equally esteemed as a batsman and as a bowler, but gradually became especially distinguished in the latter capacity. In Jan. 1874 he played for New South Wales in the match at Sydney against W. G. Grace's team, and took three wickets for fourteen runs. This was his first considerable performance. He was not, however, chosen as one of the combined Australian team to meet the Englishmen during that tour, but in the next season (Dec. 1874) it was chiefly owing to his bowling that New South Wales was able to beat Victoria at Melbourne, for the first time for seven years. In 1878 Mr. Spofforth visited England as one of Gregory's team. On this occasion he thoroughly justified the cognomen of the "Demon Bowler" which he had already acquired in Australia. He first made a name in England in the memorable contest with the M.C.C. and Ground, when he and Boyle together succeeded in getting rid of an extremely strong batting side for 33 runs in the first and 19 in the second innings. In the first innings he bowled 23 balls for 4 runs and 6 wickets. During the tour he was credited with as many as 110 wickets at an average of under 10½ runs, besides having the respectable batting average of 13 for 28 innings. He paid a second visit to England with the 1880 team, and though an injury prevented him playing in the most memorable match of the tour, he took no less than 391 English wickets at an average of only a little over 5 runs. He was a member of Murdoch's 1884 team, and increased his reputation as a bowler by his constant success on the hard wickets prevalent in England during the tour. His delivery is right-handed, and from its very nature causes the ball to get up quickly from the pitch. He has completely learnt perhaps the greatest secret of bowling—to vary his pitch without giving the batsman any clue to his intentions. He was at one time a very fast bowler, but latterly he has reduced his pace. He is a fair batsman, a good field, particularly at point, and generally a sure catch. He played for New South Wales from 1874 to 1885, and for Victoria from 1885 to 1887. Mr. Spofforth was formerly a clerk in the Bank of New South Wales in Sydney, and was then engaged in squatting pursuits in Cootamundra, in New South Wales. He is now settled in England, where he has qualified for Derbyshire.