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|Full name||John Berry Hobbs|
|Born||16 December 1882|
|Died||21 December 1963 (aged 81)|
Hove, East Sussex, England
|Batting style||right-handed (RHB)|
|Bowling style||right-arm medium pace (RM)|
|Test debut (cap 157)||1 January 1908 v Australia|
|Last Test||16 August 1930 v Australia|
|Domestic team information|
|5 wickets in innings||–||3|
|10 wickets in match||–||0|
|Source: CricketArchive, 18 June 2010|
|Full name||John Berry Hobbs|
|Born||16 December 1882|
|Died||21 December 1963 (aged 81)|
Hove, East Sussex, England
|Batting style||right-handed (RHB)|
|Bowling style||right-arm medium pace (RM)|
|Test debut (cap 157)||1 January 1908 v Australia|
|Last Test||16 August 1930 v Australia|
|Domestic team information|
|5 wickets in innings||–||3|
|10 wickets in match||–||0|
|Source: CricketArchive, 18 June 2010|
Sir John Berry "Jack" Hobbs (16 December 1882 – 21 December 1963) was an English professional cricketer who played for Surrey from 1905 to 1934 and for England in 61 Test matches between 1908 and 1930. Known as "The Master", Hobbs is regarded by critics as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket. He is the leading run-scorer and century-maker in first-class cricket, with 61,760 runs and 199 centuries.[notes 1] A right-handed batsman and an occasional right-arm medium pace bowler, Hobbs also excelled as a fielder, particularly in the position of cover point.
Born into poverty in 1882, Hobbs wished to pursue a career in cricket from an early age. His early batting was undistinguished but a sudden improvement in 1901 brought him to the attention of local teams. Following the death of his father, he successfully applied to join Surrey, with the support of England batsman Tom Hayward. His reputation grew and when he qualified to play for Surrey, he scored 88 on his first-class debut and a century in his next game. Over the following seasons, he established himself in the Surrey team and by 1907–08 was playing Test cricket for England. He scored 83 in his first Test, and his international career continued until 1930. After some mixed Test performances, Hobbs' success against South African googly bowlers meant that his place was secure, and in 1911–12, he scored three centuries in the series against Australia. Afterwards, he was regarded as the best batsman in the world until the mid-1920s. In county cricket, Hobbs developed an attractive, attacking style of play where he scored quickly, and he was very successful in the years approaching the First World War. After the war, Hobbs was again successful against Australia, but his career was threatened by appendicitis which caused him to miss most of the 1921 season. When he returned, he was more cautious as a batsmen and concentrated on safer, more defensive play. Yet he continued to be successful in Test and domestic cricket. He retired from Tests in 1930 but continued to play for Surrey until 1934.
Hobbs was born in Cambridge on 16 December 1882, the eldest of 12 children born to John Cooper Hobbs, a slater, and his wife Flora Matilda Berry. Hobbs was born in a poor, run-down area of the town, but the family moved into their own home shortly after his birth, and moved house several times during his childhood. Hobbs' father had a great love of cricket and following good performances in local matches, was employed as a professional cricketer at Fenner's, the cricket ground of Cambridge University. In 1889, he was appointed to the more prestigious position of groundsman and umpire at Jesus College.
From an early age, Hobbs played cricket whenever he could and his first games were played in the streets near his house. He was educated at a primary school affiliated with his local Anglican church, St Matthew's, and moved in 1891, to York Street Boys' School, a fee-paying establishment. He later admitted that he was a poor scholar but was more successful at sports. He played regularly for the St Matthew's choir team, which he went on to captain, and the York Street school team. During holidays, he helped his father at work on the Jesus College ground. In his final year at York Street, in order to supplement the family budget, he took a job working before school hours in the domestic service of a private house where his duties mainly involved cleaning. When he left school in 1895, Hobbs initially worked as an errand boy before his father's connections at the university helped him to get a summer job as a college servant, chiefly assisting the cricket team. Then, aged 16, he became an apprentice gas fitter. Hobbs continued to practise his cricket, batting in the mornings and evenings on Parker's Piece, but did not stand out as a cricketer at this time. No coaches or teams approached him and he was 18 years old before hitting his first century.
Hobbs' breakthrough came in 1901.His batting improved throughout the season, during which he appeared for two local sides, and scored his first century. His good performances in the season brought his selection for a team representing Cambridge which played a team of professional cricketers brought by the Cambridge-born Surrey cricketer Tom Hayward. Although his overall record was unremarkable, at the end of the season he was invited to play as an amateur for Cambridgeshire, albeit with little success.
Early in 1902, Hobbs was appointed assistant professional at Bedford School, working as a groundsman and bowling in the nets, although he did not enjoy the experience. In late August, Hobbs returned to Cambridge to play as a professional for the first time. For a fee of ten shillings, he appeared for a team from the nearby town of Royston against Hertfordshire Club and Ground. Appearing in his highest level of cricket to date, Hobbs scored 119. His success delighted his family and made him a local celebrity. Hobbs' father, having helped to arrange his appearance in the match, died from pneumonia a week after the match. His death left his wife and children facing great financial hardship, although a fund-raising match organised in the town went some way to ease their difficulties. Hobbs assumed his father's duties as groundsman at Jesus college in the winter of 1902–03. While working there, one of his colleagues and a friend of his father, F. C. Hutt, got in contact with Hayward to ask him to arrange a trial for Hobbs, with a view to joining Surrey. Consequently in late 1902, Hayward and Bill Reeves, an Essex cricketer born in Cambridge, bowled at Hobbs on Parker's Piece and Hobbs impressed Hayward.
Hobbs was summoned to a trial at Surrey in April 1903; after batting in the nets, he was chosen to appear in two trial matches in which he made scores of 37 and 13. The Surrey secretary subsequently offered him a position on the ground staff at the Oval with a basic wage of 30 shillings per week during the season.[notes 2] Hobbs could not immediately play for Surrey owing to the qualification rules in place at the time for the County Championship. To appear for a county, a player had to be born in that county or to have lived there for two years. To this end, Hobbs moved to London; he later wrote how much he enjoyed living in the city. Around this time he played football for local teams as a forward with some success. However, he struggled to find employment during the winter months, and despite the off-season pay provided by Surrey, was in financial difficulties.
While qualifying, Hobbs played for Surrey's Colts side and for the "Club and Ground" Eleven, both of which were teams for young Surrey cricketers. He made some substantial scores, including 86 runs in his first match for the Club and Ground, but according to Hobbs' biographer, Leo McKinstry, "Just as he had done for much of his early life, [Hobbs] performed satisfactorily without doing anything startling". He scored 480 runs at an average of 34.29, as well as taking 19 wickets as his bowling improved. The following season, Hobbs played only for the Club and Ground, increased his average to 43.90, and impressed people connected with Surrey. Hobbs' sudden improvement brought about his return to the Cambridgeshire team, where his batting was praised, particularly when he scored 195 and 129 in two matches against Hertfordshire. In total, he scored 696 runs in 13 innings for Cambridgeshire, averaging 58.00.
Hobbs qualified for Surrey by the beginning of the 1905 cricket season and was seen by the press as a promising player. At the time, Surrey had problems finding an opening batsman to partner Tom Hayward. Although Hobbs had rarely opened the batting, when Hayward captained Surrey in their opening game of the season—the regular, amateur Surrey captain was absent—he selected Hobbs and used him as an opening batsman. Making his debut on 24 April 1905 against a team representing the "Gentlemen of England", Hobbs scored 18 runs in the first innings and a rapid 88 in the second before rain ensured the match was drawn. The Surrey team and committee were impressed, and when the regular Surrey captain, Lord Dalmeny, assumed control for the following match against Essex, the club's opening County Championship match, Hobbs retained his place and scored 155 runs in around three hours during Surrey's second innings. Hobbs later held the catch which won the game for Surrey and he was cheered from the ground by the crowd. Lord Dalmeny awarded Hobbs his County Cap as the players left the field; Amid press acclaim, Hobbs maintained his form over the following weeks; he scored another century against Essex and hit 94 runs against the touring Australian cricket team. However, a combination of fatigue from continuous cricket and some technical problems with his batting meant that he struggled for the rest of the season; he often failed with the bat and his fielding was criticised by the press. To attempt to recapture his form, Surrey tried Hobbs in different positions in the batting order and occasionally left him out of the side, but nothing helped. In all first-class cricket in the season, Hobbs scored 1,317 runs at an average of 25.82, including two centuries and four other scores over fifty. This placed him ninth in the Surrey batting averages. McKinstry describes this as "a sound if hardly electrifying start." As an occasional medium-paced bowler, he took six wickets. Reviewing Surrey's season, Wisden singled Hobbs out for attention, praising his early-season form but noted how tiredness had affected him; it suggested that he was the best professional batsman Surrey had found for a long time. The Times noted that, although performing well, Hobbs had fallen short of the standards suggested by his start.
Following a winter of practice, Hobbs displayed greater consistency in 1906. He scored 85 in the opening game of the season and maintained his form throughout the season. Displaying a wider range of shots, he scored four centuries, including another against Essex, and established an effective opening partnership with Hayward, who set a record for the highest aggregate of runs in a season. In total, Hobbs scored 1,913 runs at an average of 40.70 with a highest score of 162, placing him second in the Surrey averages as the county climbed to third place in the County Championship. Wisden praised his improved fielding and commented that he was "one of the best professional bats of the year" and noted that he was likely to get even better.
Following his marriage and honeymoon in the winter of 1906–07, Hobbs made further advances as a batsman in 1907. Unusually frequent rain during the season—Wisden described the season as the wettest ever—meant that pitches often favoured bowlers. Hobbs successfully adapted his batting technique to suit the conditions. After beginning the season in uncertain form, he began to bat with great consistency. His performances brought him to the attention of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) selectors, and he was chosen for the Players in the prestigious Gentlemen v Players matches in July, although he was unsuccessful in both games. Some commentators criticised Hobbs after these matches and suggested that he should bat more defensively as he was too cavalier in his batting. Hobbs scored a further three centuries in the season, and was selected to play in a Scarborough Festival match against the touring South African team. By the end of the season, Hobbs had scored 2,135 runs, averaging 37.45. He was one of only three men to pass 2,000 runs; he was second to Hayward in the Surrey averages, and eighth in the national averages.
Hobbs was selected to tour Australia in the 1907–08 season with an MCC team—at the time, England teams toured under the name and badge of the MCC.[notes 3] Several leading players were unavailable, giving Hobbs his opportunity, and the team was not regarded as a strong one. Even so, Hobbs was not a certain choice; the influential Archie MacLaren was critical of his batting at the time, and Hobbs may have owed his selection to the support of the Surrey amateur H. D. G. Leveson Gower. Throughout the voyage to Australia, Hobbs was severely affected by sea-sickness, a condition which was to afflict him throughout his life. To allow him to recover from his illness upon arrival in Australia, Hobbs missed the first two games of the tour, but once recovered, he played in only two of the remaining four fixtures before the Test series began, possibly because the MCC captain, Arthur Jones did not rate Hobbs a good player. Hobbs failed with the bat on his two appearances and was subsequently left out of the team for the first Test match. However, England lost the game and the performance of the amateur wicketkeeper and makeshift opening batsman Dick Young was singled out as detrimental to the team. Following effective batting performances by Hobbs in two matches after the Test, Frederick Fane, the stand-in England captain, chose Hobbs to open the batting in the second Test. He made his Test debut on 1 January 1908 at Melbourne. He went in to bat on the second day after Australia had scored 266; in 182 minutes, he scored 83 runs in his first innings and although he batted more slowly than usual, critics praised his defence. Eventually, England needed 282 to win. Hobbs and Fane added 54 for the first wicket; before Hobbs fell for 28 but England went on to win the match by one wicket.
Hobbs retained his place for the rest of the series. In the third Test, he scored 26 and 23, although he was forced to retire hurt in the latter innings. In the fourth match, he scored 57 on a pitch badly affected by rain, adopting a policy of attacking the bowling and hitting 10 fours. He concluded his series with an innings of 72 in the final game, but could not prevent a third successive English defeat—the home side won the five-match series 4–1. Hobbs had scored 302 runs at an average of 43.14. In other first-class matches, Hobbs scored centuries against Tasmania and Victoria, totalling 876 runs at 41.71. The MCC manager praised Hobbs after the tour, but Hobbs himself did not enjoy the tour. He found the travelling tiring and felt very homesick.
Although batting conditions were generally better in 1908 than the previous season, Hobbs scored fewer runs. Even so, he achieved a batting average over 40 in the County Championship and scored six centuries for Surrey. In the Gentlemen v Players match, Hobbs scored 81, but struggled against Yorkshire, the County Champions that year, scoring 33 runs in four innings against the team. In all first-class games, Hobbs scored 1,904 runs at 37.33. For his achievements that season, Hobbs was chosen as one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year. The citation noted that "at the present time there is perhaps no better professional batsman in England except Hayward and Tyldesley".
Hobbs began the 1909 season with a succession of large scores, including a double century in one match and two separate centuries in another. Such form placed him in contention for a place in the England team to play Australia, but the strength of English batting at the time meant that he was not a certainty. Furthermore, the England captain, Archie MacLaren, remained unconvinced that Hobbs possessed the required quality. However, the Surrey captain and England selector Leveson-Gower persuaded the committee to include Hobbs in the squad, then convinced a reluctant MacLaren to play him in the team.[notes 4] In the first Test, played at Edgbaston, Hobbs opened the batting with MacLaren but was dismissed, from the first ball he received. However, the match was a low-scoring one on a pitch which made batting difficult, and Australia left England needing 105 to win. The task was not easy in the conditions, but Hobbs, this time opening the batting with C. B. Fry, hit 62 not out. He scored quickly off all the bowlers and England passed the target without losing a wicket. England lost the second Test by nine wickets, their team much changed to the bafflement of critics and spectators, and Hobbs scored just 19 and 9. The home side also lost the third Test. Hobbs scored 12 and 30, the latter the highest score of the innings. In his next game, Hobbs badly injured his finger and missed the remainder of the Test series; in three games, he scored 132 runs at an average of 26.40. England lost the series when the remaining two matches were drawn. Hobbs struggled to regain his form when he recovered from the injury and his scoring was inconsistent, but he still finished the season with 2,114 runs at 40.65. However, nearly half of those runs came in the first month of the season, and he passed 40 only four times in his last 20 innings.
With his international reputation not yet secured, Hobbs accepted an invitation to tour South Africa that winter with the MCC, mindful of the need to support his family financially, even though the tour was not prestigious at the time, and several first-choice players were absent. From a cricketing viewpoint, the tour was challenging, played on matting pitches which were unfamiliar to English players and against South African googly bowlers who previously troubled most leading English batsmen. Critics and analysts believed a new batting method was needed to defeat the relatively new delivery. Although expected to be a leading player on the tour, local press were initially unconvinced by Hobbs until he scored centuries in his first two games. Hobbs was chosen for the first Test against South Africa; the MCC captain, Leveson-Gower, selected Wilfred Rhodes to open the batting with him. Rhodes began his career as a bowler who batted down the batting order but steadily improved his batting until he became an opening batsman. He and Hobbs went on to establish a successful opening partnership which was particularly noted for quick running. Batting together on the first day of the Test, they immediately began to score singles by pushing the ball just past nearby fielders and running quickly. The tactic was initially a response to the difficulty of facing the bowlers on a matting pitch, but was successful as they added 159 runs for the first wicket. Hobbs scored 89 in the first innings and 35 in the second, and although England lost narrowly, he appeared much more comfortable than the other English batsmen against the googly. Hobbs and Rhodes followed up with a partnership of 207 in the match following the Test, and Hobbs scored 163. England also lost the second Test, but Hobbs continued to impress critics; he scored 53 and 70, sharing two substantial opening partnerships of 94 and 48 with Rhodes in the process. The failure of the other batsmen, defeated by the googly bowlers, caused consternation in the English press. As England had few effective pace bowlers on the tour, Hobbs opening the bowling in the first two Tests, as well as the batting.
In the third Test, he scored 93 not out in 130 minutes, batting at number five in the order after being ill, and despite another failure by the other English batsmen, guided England to a three-wicket victory. However, the series was lost when England were defeated in the fourth match; Hobbs scored 0 and 1, the only time in his Test career that he failed to reach double figures in either innings, and his worst return in first-class cricket. In the final game of the series, he scored his first Test hundred, opening the batting and sharing a partnership of 221 with Rhodes which was a record at the time for the first wicket in Test matches. Hobbs batted for 225 minutes in total and scored 187, an innings praised by Wisden for its "brilliancy". Later, he once more opened the bowling, dismissing Reggie Schwarz, his only Test wicket. England won the match by nine wickets and the series finished 3–2. Hobbs scored 1,124 first-class runs at an average of 66.11 on the tour, while in the Test matches, he scored 539 runs at 67.37. By the end of the series, critics were beginning to describe Hobbs as the world's best batsman. Wisden commented: "Beyond everything else from the English point of view the feature of the trip was the superb batting of Hobbs, who easily adapted himself to the matting wickets and scored from the famous googly bowlers with amazing skill and facility. When they came home the other members of the team could not say too much in his praise." According to Ronald Mason, after Hobbs' success, the South African googly bowlers were never again as effective.
As the leading batsmen of the previous decade fell into decline, Hobbs' success in South Africa meant he was, according to McKinstry, "beyond dispute, seen as the finest batsman in the country". However, a combination of a wet summer, the effects of switching from matting pitches to grass ones, and tiredness from having played cricket for 18 months without a substantial break meant that Hobbs record was poor in 1910. He did not enjoy the season owing to fatigue and scored 1,982 runs at an average of 33.03, the lowest average of his career apart from his first season. He was more effective during 1911, after a long rest during the winter. The summer was hot and dry, leading to better batting pitches. Although Hobbs played few outstanding innings, he was consistently successful, and scored 2,376 runs at 41.68. Bowling more frequently than in other seasons, Hobbs also took 28 wickets. Against Oxford University, Hobbs bowled throughout the second innings to take seven wickets for 56 runs, the best figures of his career. Although Hobbs was often dismissed having scored between 40 and 70 runs, his best innings were played in the most pressurised games.
Hobbs was an automatic selection for the MCC tour of Australia in the winter of 1911–12, now regarded by critics as a key batsman. After scoring 43 when the team stopped in Colombo on the way, Hobbs and the MCC arrived in Australia in October 1911. The side faced immediate difficulties when their captain, Pelham Warner became seriously ill and was replaced by Johnny Douglas after the opening game. Also, several leading batsmen struggled for early form, including Hobbs. Problems continued during the first Test, which Australia won by 146 runs, and Douglas faced severe criticism of his leadership. Hobbs scored 63 in the first innings, although by his own admission he did not play well, and 22 in the second. Although Rhodes was in the team, he did not open the batting owing to his poor form, and Hobbs opened with Septimus Kinneir.
Douglas' position briefly came under threat following the defeat, but was supported by Hobbs and retained his position following a team vote. England subsequently won the second Test; after bowling Australia out for 184 in the first innings, the visiting team faced a target of 219 to win in the fourth innings. Hobbs and Rhodes, restored to the opening position, began with a partnership of 57. Hobbs scored 126 not out, his first century against Australia, and scored particularly well from the bowling of Ranji Hordern, a googly bowler who had taken 12 wickets in the first Test. Wisden commented that Hobbs "played one of the finest innings of his life", and England won by eight wickets. Australia were once more bowled out for a low score in the third Test; this time Hobbs and Rhodes added 147 for the first wicket and Hobbs scored 187. England reached a total of 501 and won the match by seven wickets. The press praised Hobbs and the Manchester Guardian noted that the batsmen seemed to have finally conquered the googly.
Having established a lead in the series, England began the fourth Test by bowling Australia out for 191 in damp conditions. At the end of the first day, Hobbs and Rhodes had scored 54 together, and the next day they took their partnership for the first wicket to 323, setting a new record for the highest partnership for any wicket in Test matches. Their partnership remained an overall Test record for 22 years and the highest for the first wicket until 1948. As of 2012, this remains England's highest opening partnership against Australia. The pair scored easily from the bowling but faced criticism for slow batting. Even so, Hobbs reached a century in 133 minutes and proceeded to play more aggressively afterwards. He was dismissed for 178 after batting for four-and-a-half hours. The press and players praised the partnership and in particular the quality of the running between the wickets. England reached a total of 589 and bowled Australia out for 173 to win the match by an innings and regain the Ashes. England also won the final Test to take the series 4–1; Hobbs scored 32 and 45, sharing a partnership of 76 with Rhodes in the second innings.
Hobbs ended the series with an aggregate of 662 runs at an average of 82.75, setting a new record number of runs for an individual batsman in a Test series. In his review of the tour, Warner said: "I have long since exhausted my vocabulary of praise in favour of Rhodes and Hobbs, and, thanks in a very large degree to their superlative work, our batting was eminently successful. Too much stress cannot be laid on what they accomplished, for in innings after innings they gave us a wonderful start. They were the backbone of the batting." In addition, Hobbs ran out 15 batsmen and Warner praised his fielding at cover point. The Australians did not dare run when he fielded the ball for fear of the speed of his throw. In all first-class matches, Hobbs scored 943 runs at 55.47.
The 1912 season was unusually wet, which caused many games to be rained off and produced some very difficult batting wickets. Surrey had a poor season and Wisden remarked that Hobbs did not bat as well for his county as for his country. His batting approach also differed from that which he adopted for England; he tried to attack at all times and attempted shots he dare not risk in a Test. Consequently, he lost his wicket on several occasions trying to score quickly, and the press criticised him for recklessness, although spectators responded well to his tactics. During the summer, both Australia and South Africa toured England, taking part in the Triangular Tournament. The competition was not a success owing to the poor weather and the inability of South Africa to compete with the other two teams. Also, several leading players were absent from the Australian team owing to the continuing dispute between them and the Australian Board of Control. In addition, spectators lost interest in the tournament because it took too long to complete. As a result, England's eventual victory lacked the prestige that had been expected before the season. Hobbs made a slow start to the competition when he was bowled in the first over in England's opening match against South Africa, and his batting form in all matches was uncertain in the early part of the season. However, he scored a century against Australia at Lord's on a very difficult batting pitch in England's next game, sharing a partnership of 112 with Rhodes. He continued with scores of 55 and 68 in the next two games against South Africa, and his batting was praised by the press; for the first time, in the Times, he was referred to as "a great master". South Africa were defeated in all three Tests played against England, and in two out of three (the third was drawn) by Australia. With the first two games between England and Australia drawn, the final match between these teams was designated as the deciding match for the tournament. Hobbs and Rhodes opened with 107, and Hobbs scored 66. These runs were crucial and England won the game by 244 runs.
Hobbs came top of the batting averages for the tournament, and in the final Test passed 2,000 runs in Test matches. In Tests, Hobbs averaged 40.75 against South Africa and 56.00 against Australia. In all first-class cricket his aggregate was 2,042 runs at 37.81. In judging his international performances in the season, Sydney Pardon, the editor of Wisden, wrote:
Hobbs was magnificent—just as good, allowing for the difference in the wickets, as he had been during his Australian and South African tours ...It was a great point in our batting that we had in Hobbs and Rhodes such a splendid pair to go in first. Thanks to constant association in South Africa and Australia the two men understood each other so well that they could with safety attempt short runs that in ordinary circumstances would have savoured of madness. They never seemed to let a chance escape them, and yet they seldom looked to be in any danger. Better running between the wickets has not often been seen.—Sydney Pardon, Wisden, 1913
As there was no major cricket tour in the winter of 1912–13, Hobbs took a job as a private cricket coach to a wealthy South African's son. He and his family also moved into their own property, Hobbs now being able to afford to buy, rather than rent a house. In 1913, Hobbs scored 2,605 runs at an average of 50.09, placing him second in the national averages to Phil Mead. Unlike the previous season, Hobbs was more controlled in his aggression. Even so, he continued to score quickly, twice scoring 100 runs before lunch on the first day of a match. He and Hayward also shared an opening partnership of 313 in 190 minutes against Worcestershire. One of his most high-profile achievements was an innings of 72 not out on a difficult pitch to guide the Players to victory over the Gentlemen at Lord's in a run-chase where time was short. Wisden described him as "the best bat" in England, and "one of the greatest bats of his generation";
In the winter of 1913–14, the MCC sent a team to South Africa under the captaincy of Johnny Douglas. The team was strong, but the South African side had few effective players. The tour was difficult for political and diplomatic reasons, and Hobbs experienced some uncomfortable personal incidents. In Kimberley, he was the victim of attempted fraud by an impersonator, and at Amanzimtoti, he and two team-mates were involved in a road accident as a result of which Hobbs was thrown from their car. On the field, England won the five-Test series 4–0, mainly as a result of the bowling of Sydney Barnes. Hobbs scored 443 runs at an average of 63.28 in the series; he did not score a century, but accumulated scores of 82, 92 and 97. With Rhodes, he shared two century opening partnerships and another of 92. Critics pointed out that Hobbs was more defensive in his approach than he was for Surrey, and Wisden noted that he was "not quite so brilliant as in England" but said that he was "an absolute master on matting wickets [pitches]." In all first-class matches, he scored 1,489 runs at 74.45.
Shortly after the team returned home, the 1914 season began and Hobbs was praised in press previews of the season as the world's best batsman. Hobbs was awarded a benefit match by Surrey. He made a slow start to the season but later recorded a string of centuries, including a score of 226, his highest at that time. At the same time, war in Europe was becoming more and more likely throughout the season. Cricket continued once the war began, but Hobbs' benefit was moved from the Oval to Lord's. This move, and the public's greater concern for the war, meant that the match was a failure; in total Hobbs' benefit raised £657 which was lower than most benefits and far less than raised for cricketers of Hobbs' standing. The Surrey committee attempted to increase the amount raised but eventually agreed to give him another benefit when the war concluded. Cricket continued for a little longer, and Hobbs scored his 11th century of the season before public pressure to cease caused Surrey to cancel their final fixtures. However, Surrey were declared County Champions for the only time in Hobbs' career. In all first-class games, he scored 2,697 runs at 58.63. McKinstry notes that during the season: "With his free-scoring method, [Hobbs] had dazzled in a way that he was never to do again."
Unlike many other cricketers, Hobbs did not immediately join the army, but instead worked in a munitions factory, possibly as a clerk. Hobbs later wrote that he was criticised for not joining up, but claimed he did not realise how serious the war would be, and was aware of his obligations to his family. Hobbs initially remained on the Surrey staff, but from March 1915 he found extra work as coach at Westminster School. In May 1915, Hobbs began to play on Saturdays in the Bradford Cricket League as a professional for Idle. The continuation of competitive cricket in Bradford, when all other such cricket had ceased, was controversial. Several clubs hired top-class professionals, including Sydney Barnes, and matches became very popular. Hobbs' arrival was eagerly anticipated but he never reached the heights expected, averaging 36.63 throughout the season. However, the signing of Hobbs provoked an angry exchange of correspondence between Yorkshire president Lord Hawke, who was highly critical of the employment of professionals, and John Booth, the president of the Bradford League. It is possible that Hawke's criticism was the reason for his poor relationship with Hobbs in later years. Hobbs never publicly commented on the matter, but was instrumental in recruiting Frank Woolley to play in the league in 1916. Hobbs contract at Westminster was not renewed for 1916, and Surrey reduced its playing staff, but he continued to play for Idle, receiving special dispensation from the munitions factory to leave early on Saturdays to travel to Bradford. His family, including his brothers who served in the war, resented this apparent favouritism towards Hobbs. Hobbs was more successful at Idle in 1916, scoring 790 runs at 52.60 and taking 65 wickets at 6.27, but his conscription into the Royal Flying Corps meant this was his final season of regular cricket in the league.
Hobbs joined the Corps in October 1916 as an air mechanic and after training was posted to London, then Norfolk; at first he had time to appear in charity cricket matches and in several games for Idle. In November 1917, he joined 110 Squadron which remained in England despite plans to send it to fight in France. By 1918, the cricket authorities began to arrange more matches and Hobbs played successfully several times at Lord's. In September 1918, 110 Squadron, as part of the newly formed Royal Air Force, was sent to France and took an active part in the fighting, but Hobbs never discussed his career in the RAF. Even so, some of his family remained critical and felt that the worst of the war was over when Hobbs went to France. He was demobilised in February 1919.
When first-class cricket resumed in 1919, county matches were reduced to two days in a short-lived experiment that many players, including Hobbs, disliked. Hobbs, awarded a five-year contract worth £400 per year, made runs in pre-season trial games and made a good start in first-class games. However, he initially tried to be too aggressive and, according to Wisden, "he had a brief spell of comparative failure, due to a little overeagerness and overconfidence". After this, he batted consistently throughout the season, scoring a double century for Surrey against a touring Australian Imperial Forces cricket team, centuries in each of the three Gentlemen v Players matches—the only player ever to do so in one season—and 101 for the "Rest of England" against Yorkshire, the County Champions, at the end of the season. Hobbs rescheduled benefit match raised £1,670. Hobbs used the money raised to open a sports shop in London which he ran for the rest of his life. During the season, Hobbs began to open the batting with Andy Sandham, who succeeded to Hayward's position as Hobbs' partner; in the following years, the pair later established an extremely effective opening partnership. In total that year, Hobbs scored 2,594 runs in first class matches, more than anyone else, at an average of 60.32.
After a winter working in his shop, Hobbs' good form continued into 1920, when county matches reverted to three days' duration. He scored a century in the opening game and 215 against Middlesex, the County Champions, at the end of the season. In June, he scored four centuries in consecutive innings, followed by 70 in the next. Hobbs also took five wickets for 21 runs against Warwickshire, and his 17 wickets at an average of 11.82 meant that, according to his biographer John Arlott, "to his amusement ... he was top, not only of Surrey's, but also of the national, bowling averages".
Hobbs was chosen to tour Australia with the MCC during the 1920–21 season. Australia dominated the five-Test series, beating England 5–0. The England players, led by Johnny Douglas, faced a strong bowling attack. In addition, the bowlers proved ineffective on hard pitches and struggled to dismiss the Australian batsmen. Hobbs began with two centuries in the opening three first-class games, and in the first Test had the highest score in both England innings with 49 and 59. But Australia established their dominance in this match, winning by 377 runs after totalling 581 in their second innings. In this game, Hobbs had opened with C. A. G. Russell in place of Rhodes, who was out of form. For the remainder of the series, Rhodes was restored to partner Hobbs, but they could not replicate their former successes, and they had only one stand worth more than 50. Nevertheless, in the second Test Hobbs scored 122 on a difficult pitch which had been affected by rain. Wisden commented that this was "from the English point of view, the finest innings of the tour". Even so, England followed on in reply to Australia's total of 499 and lost by an innings. Hobbs also scored a century in defeat in the third Test, hitting 123 in the final innings as England failed to score 489 to win the game. Hobbs did not pass 50 again in the series; after a failure on the fourth Test, Hobbs tour a thigh muscle batting in a tour game before the final Test. Persuaded by Douglas to play despite suffering from restricted mobility, Hobbs scored 40 and 34. But after one incident in the field when he struggled to chase the ball, Hobbs was jeered by the some of the crowd. Two amateur members of the team, Percy Fender and Rockley Wilson, wrote scathingly about the incident in their dual role as journalists covering the Tests. Later in the match, the crowd, who gave Wilson a hostile reception following his writing, loudly cheered Hobbs; in Hobbs' view, this was to make amends for the earlier mockery of his hampered fielding. Hobbs scored a total of 924 first-class runs on the tour, at an average of 51.33; In Test matches, he scored 505 runs at 50.50. Wisden noted in its review of the tour that Hobbs was one of the few Englishmen to be successful
Hobbs played just five first-class matches in 1921. In his opening first-class game, he played against the Australian touring team, and tore the same thigh muscle injured in Australia. The injury forced Hobbs to miss the opening two Tests against Australia, but once recovered, he immediately scored a century for Surrey; as England already trailed 2–0 in the five-Test series, the selectors chose him for the third Test. In the days approaching the match, played in Leeds, Hobbs suffered from increasing stomach pain but reluctantly played. However, he had to leave the field on the first day and after a day of rest, the pain worsened. A prominent surgeon, Sir Berkley Moynihan, was based in Leeds and Hobbs consulted him over the pain. Moynihan diagnosed acute appendicitis and operated the same day; in the opinion of the surgeon, Hobbs would not have lived another five hours without surgery. Hobbs missed the rest of the season.
Hobbs returned to cricket in 1922 and batted very effectively throughout the first months of the season and scored 10 first-class centuries in total. One of the centuries came in the Gentlemen v Players match at Lord's, in which Hobbs captained the Players team for the first time. But his innings of 140 was slow by his previous standards and he received some criticism in the press for his laboured approach. Towards the end of the season, his form faded owing to the lingering effects of his illness and operation the previous year. Wisden observed that Hobbs frequently tired during longer innings and often tried to get out soon after reaching three figures; this habit of giving up his innings continued throughout the remainder of his career. Hobbs himself believed that the operation reduced his stamina and that he was never as physically strong afterwards. The season also marked a turning point in his batting approach where he preferred to score more slowly and take fewer risks, in contrast to his adventurous pre-war tactics. Hobbs finished second in the national batting averages, and scored 2,552 runs at an average of 62.24, but declined an invitation to tour South Africa that winter with the MCC. Hobbs was less successful in 1923 during a wet season; he failed with the bat on many occasions and was unsuccessful in both Gentlemen v Players games. He was still struggling with the after-effects of his operation and Wisden noticed he once more tried to score too quickly early in an innings. However, against Somerset, Hobbs scored the 100th century of his first-class career, the third man to reach the landmark after Grace and Hayward. Overall, he scored 2,087 runs at 37.95.
Hobbs' form recovered in 1924 to the extent that Arlott described it as the beginning of "his quite phenomenal second lease of cricketing life". Batting conditions were good throughout the summer and Hobbs' opening partnership with Sandham for Surrey began to approach its peak of effectiveness. Having signed a new contract worth £440 per season, Hobbs began the season well. More significantly for the future, Hobbs established an opening partnership with Herbert Sutcliffe. The pair had opened together in a festival match in 1922, in two Gentlemen v Players matches during 1923 and in a "Test trial match" played to assess potential members of the Test match team, also in 1923. The pair were chosen to open in another Test trial early in 1924, and their success persuaded the selectors to include them in the team for the first Test against South Africa. When England batted first, Hobbs and Sutcliffe added 136 for the first wicket; Hobbs, playing a Test innings in England for the first time since 1912, scored 76. England won the match by a large margin. In the second Test, Hobbs and Sutcliffe opened with 268 runs for the first wicket. Hobbs scored quickly throughout, and made 211, his highest Test score. At the time, the innings was the highest played at Lord's in a Test and equalled the highest in a Test match in England. England scored 531 for the loss of two wickets and won the match by an innings. Building a good reputation, Hobbs and Sutcliffe shared 70 in the next Test, and Hobbs then scored 118 for the Players against the Gentlemen, although he faced more criticism for slow scoring.
Hobbs was left out of the team for the fourth Test; he initially declined an invitation to tour Australia with the MCC in the coming winter, and the selectors wished to try players who might tour. Hobbs finally agreed to tour when the MCC accepted his request to allow his wife to accompany him—the wives of professionals were not usually permitted to tour.[notes 5] With the matter concluded, Hobbs returned to the England team for the fifth Test. In the series, he scored 355 runs at an average of 71.00, while in all first-class matches he totalled 2,094 runs at 58.16. He finished second in the national averages, and the cricket press noted that, although Hobbs scored more slowly and in less spectacular fashion than previously, he batted in a safer, more secure style which was more successful in terms of run-scoring.
The MCC team which toured Australia in 1924–25 was captained by Arthur Gilligan. Australia won the Test series 4–1, but critics thought the winning margin flattered the host country and the English team were very popular. Much of the prestige of the team came from the batting partnership of Hobbs and Sutcliffe. Between them in the Test matches, they scored seven centuries and shared four opening partnerships which passed 100 runs.
In the opening first-class match of the tour, Hobbs and Sutcliffe opened the innings with a partnership of 89 in difficult batting conditions; Hobbs scored 50, and scored consistently in the other warm-up games. Amid great public interest, the Test series began at Sydney; in reply to Australia's first innings of 450, Hobbs and Sutcliffe opened with 157 runs. Hobbs went on to his seventh century against Australia, beating the previous record number in England-Australia Tests by Victor Trumper. Australia eventually set England a target of 605 runs. Hobbs and Sutcliffe shared their second century opening partnership of the game, and Hobbs scored 57, but England lost by 193 runs. During the match, Hobbs became the leading run-scorer in Test cricket, passing the previous record of 3,412 runs set by Clem Hill in 1912. In the second Test, Australia scored 600 during the opening two days. In reply, Hobbs and Sutcliffe batted throughout the third day without being separated, scoring 283. They concentrated on defence and scoring quick singles; both men reached centuries and the press praised their achievements. In the event, Hobbs was dismissed by an accidental full toss from Arthur Mailey, having scored 154. Once more, the remaining batsmen failed and Australia won the game by 81 runs. In the aftermath of the defeat, Cecil Parkin, a former Test bowler and vocal critic of Gilligan's captaincy, wrote a newspaper article suggesting that Hobbs should assume the leadership of the side, albeit under the nominal captaincy of Percy Chapman. This suggestion provoked a reaction from Lord Hawke: "Pray God, no professional will ever captain England". This caused a press outcry, with some writers supporting the idea of Hobbs as captain. In reality, Hobbs had no desire to captain England and did not like leading teams.
Australia once more batted first in the third Test, scoring 489; Hobbs bowled three overs owing to injuries to other bowlers. For tactical reasons, Hobbs did not open the batting and came in at number five. He shared a partnership of 90 with Sutcliffe, who batted at number six, and Hobbs went on to score 119 through cautious batting. Wet weather altered the course of the match and left England needing 375 to win. Despite an opening partnership of 63 between Hobbs and Sutcliffe, Australia won by 11 runs. The opening batsmen shared their fourth century partnership of the series in the fourth Test; Hobbs scored 66 out of a total of 548 and England won by an innings. But Australia won the final match to win the series 4–1 and in a heavy defeat, Hobbs failed in both innings. In the series, Hobbs scored 573 runs at an average of 63.66. Critics in Australia and England recognised him as the best batsman in the world. Hobbs and Sutcliffe far outscored the remaining MCC batsmen and Wisden judged that with better support from other batsmen they may have won the series. The report in the almanack said: "Finer and more consistent batting than that of Hobbs and Sutcliffe in the first four Test matches could not well be conceived ... Figures do not necessarily mean a great deal, but those of Hobbs and Sutcliffe are so remarkable, especially in view of the circumstances in which they were compiled, that they demand special mention." In all games, Hobbs scored 865 first-class runs at 54.06.
By the middle of the 1920s, cricket in England was extremely popular and the players famous. Hobbs was the biggest attraction and a combination of his cricket earnings (estimated to be around £780 each year), the income from his business, product endorsement and ghostwritten books and articles made him relatively wealthy. According to McKinstry, his annual earnings probably reached £1,500 a year by 1925, more than a family doctor at the time. In contrast to previous seasons following an Australian tour, Hobbs was extremely successful in 1925. Early in the season, a string of centuries, including a run of four in consecutive innings, made him the first batman to reach 1,000 runs that season and brought him close to Grace's record of 126 first-class hundreds. He scored the 125th century of his career against Kent on 20 July, but amid intense press and public interest, Hobbs lost form through a combination of anxiety and fatigue. He continued to score well, but could not reach three figures in an innings—after one innings of 54, a newspaper headline proclaimed that "Hobbs Fails Again". Finally, against Somerset on 15 August, Hobbs reached the landmark, scoring 101. Having scored 91 not out on the first day, Hobbs betrayed great nervousness in scoring the required nine runs the next day. The achievement was widely celebrated and Hobbs received many congratulatory telegrams. Then on the final day of the match, Hobbs scored another century to become the outright record holder. Over the following weeks, Hobbs was praised and feted throughout the country. He ended his season with 266 in a Gentlemen v Players match at the Scarborough Festival, his highest to date and the best score made in the Gentlemen v Players series, and 104 for the Rest of England against Yorkshire, the County Champions. In total, he scored 16 centuries and totalled 3,024 runs at an average of 70.32, placing him on top of the national averages for the first time in his career.
Hobbs was given a third benefit by the Surrey committee in 1926, with unusually generous financial guarantees given which reflected the county authorities' high opinion of him. The benefit eventually raised £2,670. Further recognition came when he, along with Wilfred Rhodes, joined the England selection committee for the Ashes series to be played that summer; for professional cricketers to serve as England selectors was unprecedented. Hobbs began the season well, scoring a century and several fifties in the lead-up to the first Test, whicht was badly affected by rain and there was little play. Hobbs remained in form by scoring 261 against Oxford University, sharing an opening partnership of 428 with Sandham; this remains a Surrey first wicket record in 2012. Then in the second Test, Hobbs and Sutcliffe shared an opening stand of 182. Hobbs scored 119 but was criticised for batting more slowly as his innings progressed, and some commentators accused him of selfishness—showing more concern for reaching a century than batting for the benefit of England, and possibly depriving England of a chance to win the game, which was drawn. The third Test was also drawn but presented difficulties for Carr and England. The composition of the team was criticised and Carr was not entirely happy with the team chosen; Hobbs accepted some responsibility for the decisions taken. Australia posted a large total and England, despite an opening partnership of 59 by Hobbs and Sutcliffe, followed on. This time the pair began with 156, Hobbs personally scored 88 and the game was saved. During the fourth Test, Hobbs assumed the captaincy when Carr withdrew from the match owing to illness after the first day, becoming the first professional to captain England at home. The selectors and players on both teams believed Hobbs performed well tactically as captain, although Carr did not approve. Hobbs scored 74 in England's innings, but heavy rain on the first day had ensured a fourth successive draw in the series.
As everything depended on the final game, the Imperial Cricket Conference agreed to a request that the match be played to a finish with time no object. The England selectors, conscious that the team had not beaten Australia in a series for 14 years, and had won just once in 19 Tests since 1920, made several changes. Carr was replaced as captain by Percy Chapman, a decision which proved enormously controversial in the press but of which Hobbs approved; Rhodes was also recalled to the team, aged 48. Amid huge public interest and excitement, Hobbs and Sutcliffe shared an opening stand of 53 on the first day, but after both sides had batted once, the match was evenly balanced at the end of the second day. Overnight rain seriously damaged the pitch before the third morning; batting became extremely difficult, and few critics—including members of the England team—expected England to score many runs. Instead, Hobbs and Sutcliffe, who had scored 49 on the second evening, began to bat confidently before the effects of a hot sun drying a damp pitch made batting even more hazardous. Concentrating on careful defence, but scoring where possible, the pair added 172 in total. Commentators praised the skilful defence of both batsmen, Hobbs in particular. Immediately after reaching 100, Hobbs was out and received a prolonged ovation from the crowd. Many critics believed that, given the conditions, match situation and pressure, this was the greatest innings of Hobbs' career. England continued batting to build up a large lead and bowled Australia out to win the Ashes. Late in the season, Hobbs made the highest score of his career, 316 not out for Surrey against Middlesex at Lord's, establishing a record individual innings for Lord's which survived until 1990. In total, Hobbs scored 2,949 runs at 77.60, including 12 centuries. This placed him at the head of the national batting averages.
Hobbs missed a large part of the 1927 season; after beginning in good form, he missed five weeks of cricket with a skin infection. When he returned, he was left out of the Gentlemen v Players game, to his irritation as he believed he had been dropped owing to his age. He responded with a series of large scores, in which he played very aggressively, but then tore a thigh muscle. He resumed cricket at the end of the season and scored his sixth and seventh centuries of the year. He scored 1,641 runs at 52.93, but his absences led to speculation that age was catching up with Hobbs. Hobbs began the 1928 season with four centuries in the first month, but another leg injury kept him out of cricket for six weeks. When he recovered, he played in the last two of three Tests played against West Indies, playing in their first Test series. In his first game, he and Sutcliffe shared another century partnership before Hobbs was out for 53. In the third Test, Hobbs scored 159, having opened with a 155-run partnership with Sutcliffe. England won both matches in which Hobbs played, and won the series 3–0; Learie Constantine, the West Indian bowler, was very impressed with Hobbs' batting, but Hobbs did not consider West Indies up to international standard and did not take the series very seriously. Hobbs maintained his batting form until the end of the season. Even though many batsmen were successful that year, given very favourable batting pitches throughout the season, Hobbs finished second in the batting averages,scoring 2,542 runs at an average of 82.00 and hitting 12 centuries. Critics believed that he remained the best batsman in England.
Hobbs toured Australia for a final time as a player in 1928–29; his wife again accompanied him. Hobbs was part of the selection committee for the tour and critics recognised the MCC team as a strong one, particularly in batting. He began the tour with some substantial scores without batting well, but did not make a major contribution to England's large victory in the first Test. In the second Test, Hobbs scored 40 runs and was given a presentation to mark his 46th birthday which fell during the game. England won the match, but some critics noticed a decline in Hobbs' batting, a judgement reinforced when he was out to a poorly-chosen shot in the first innings of the third Test for 20. Australia were able to build up a substantial lead, and overnight rain before the sixth day of the match made them likely winners according to most commentators. England were left needing 332 to win, but local observers believed that, on a pitch that was growing more and more difficult, a team would be unlikely to reach a total of 100. The ball bounced at varying heights and many of the England team regarded it as the most difficult pitch they had seen. Hobbs offered a catch when he had scored 3, but the ball was dropped. He and Sutcliffe survived to add 105 for the first wicket. Observers praised their technique against the turning ball, but the Australian bowlers were criticised for their ineffective tactics. Hobbs was out for 49; at Hobbs' suggestion, Douglas Jardine came in to bat next, and England reached the end of the day having lost just one wicket for a score of 199. Next day, the team won the game to ensure they retained the Ashes, having a 3–0 lead in the series with two to play. Around this time, Hobbs began to openly talk about his retirement from Test matches, but after a century in a tour match, he scored 74 and shared a partnership of 143 with Sutcliffe as England won the fourth Test by 12 runs. In the final game, Hobbs, opening with Jardine as Sutcliffe was injured, scored 142 on the first day, his 12th and final Test century against Australia. Australia won the game, but lost the series 4–1. In first-class games on the tour, he scored 962 runs at 56.58. and 451 runs at 50.11 in the Tests.
Hobbs suffered a succession of injuries and illnesses in 1929; between 1926 and 1930, he missed more than a third of Surrey's matches. When he did play, he scored heavily and in total scored 2,263 runs at an average of 66.55 to lead the first-class averages. He was unfit for the first two Tests against South Africa then chose to miss the next two, leading to speculation he had retired from Test cricket. However, he felt fit enough to play in the fifth and final Test, scoring 10 and 52. Critics observed a general slowing in Hobbs' scoring throughout the season, and he scored more often in singles than in his earlier years, when he tried to hit the ball further.
Prior to the 1930 season, Hobbs made himself available for the forthcoming Ashes series. He began in good form, and maintained his run-scoring in the weeks leading up to the first Test. Before the series began, Hobbs and Rhodes were added to the selection panel again.[notes 6] In the first Test, Hobbs scored 78 in the first innings, one of the few English successes. After England established a lead on first innings, he scored a rapid 74; he top-scored in both innings and was praised by the press for his continued success. He failed in the next Test and suggested to the selectors that he should be omitted from the team. But he played in the third Test and was controversially dismissed for 29 when his sportsmanship was called into question by the Australians. When England followed on, he was run out for 13. Feeling tired and concerned by his form, he once more offered to stand down but the other selectors retained him in the team. When he batted in the fourth Test, he scored slowly, determined not to be dismissed, and shared an opening partnership of 108 with Sutcliffe, their 11th century stand against Australia. After two hours batting, he was out for 31. With the series level at 1–1, the final match was to be played until there was a result, but before it began, Hobbs announced that it would be his last Test match. Shortly after making the decision, he returned to form, scoring a century and passing, in his next game, W. G. Grace's record aggregate of runs in a first-class career.
Before the deciding game, the selectors sacked Percy Chapman as captain. There was some press speculation that Hobbs would replace him, but Bob Wyatt was chosen. Hobbs supported the removal of Chapman, and there is a possibility that he was offered the captaincy at the meeting of selectors, but turned it down.[notes 7] In the match, Hobbs scored 47 in the first innings. When he came out to bat in the second, in the face of a large Australian first-innings lead, Hobbs was given an ovation by the crowd and the Australian fielders gave him three cheers. Hobbs was moved by his reception but scored only nine runs before he was dismissed. In 61 Tests, he scored 5,410 runs at an average of 56.94. He retired as the leading run-scorer in Test matches, a record he held until passed by Wally Hammond in 1937. In his final series, he scored 301 runs at 33.44. Hobbs maintained his form in other cricket until the end of the season, when he had scored 2,103 runs at 51.29, and Wisden noted that it was an achievement to score so well given his age. However, an attempt by the Daily Herald to open a testimonial fund to mark his international retirement met with very little public interest, and the end of his Test career passed with little press comment.
During the winter of 1930–31, Hobbs was invited to join a private team run by the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram which toured India and Ceylon. Sutcliffe joined him, and he was accompanied by his wife. Both Hobbs and Sutcliffe were extremely popular. In games which were not particularly competitive, he scored 593 runs, but these runs, and in particular the two centuries he scored were later to prove controversial. Hobbs never believed that the matches were, or should have been, first-class but statisticians later decided to recognise them as first-class. Wisden never recognised the centuries and so record his total of centuries as 197. Other authorities give 199 centuries.
Hobbs scored heavily in the 1931 season, although his batting technique had become more limited in scope and variety. He played several representative matches and took part in the 150th century opening partnership of his carer. He was the first batsman in the season to reach 1,000 runs and such was his success that the press speculated he would return to the Test team. In total, Hobbs scored 2,418 first-class runs at 56.23. He continued to score well in 1932, although he missed several matches owing to injuries and fatigue. In total, he scored 1,764 runs at 56.90, including centuries in each innings against Essex. According to Mason, his performance against Essex caused Douglas Jardine to give him the nickname "The Master". Hobbs scored 161 not out for the Players against the Gentlemen. This was his 16th century in the fixture and beat the record number of centuries by Grace. Hobbs was partially involved in the Bodyline controversy in Australia in 1932–33. Late in the 1932 season, Bill Bowes bowled consistently short against Hobbs in a match between Surrey and Yorkshire. Bowes was criticised in the press and particularly by Pelham Warner who was to manage the MCC team in Australia. Hobbs accompanied the team to Australia as a journalist, writing for the News Chronicle and the Star, accompanied by his ghost writer Jack Ingham. During the tour, Hobbs neither condemned Bodyline nor fully described the English tactics. Other journalists admired Hobbs but dismissed his writing as "bland". Late in the tour, Hobbs played in one match for the touring team, scoring 44 in a minor matches when several players were rested or injured. When he returned to England, Hobbs openly criticised Bodyline bowling, in newspaper columns and in a book.
In 1933, Hobbs scored 1,105 runs at 61.38, aged 50. After missing the first games with illness, he scored 221 against the touring West Indian team, which earned many tributes in the press. He did not play every game, and the Surrey committee allowed him to choose which matches to play, and more centuries later in the season led to press anticipation of his 200th century—although the matches for Vizianagram's team were not counted as first-class at the time. By the end of the season, he had scored 196 first-class centuries. That winter he accompanied the MCC team in India as a journalist, and before the next season, Surrey had constructed a new entrance to the Oval which was named after Hobbs. After a solid start to the 1934 season, Hobbs scored his final first-class century against Lancashire. Afterwards, his form collapsed. Playing irregularly, his batting began to appear uncomfortable. His remaining innings were a struggle and both Hobbs and his team-mates realised that his career was over. In February 1935, he announced his retirement. In his final season, he scored 624 runs at 36.70. There were many tributes and a public dinner was held in his honour in 1935 which was attended by many leading figures in cricket. In all first-class cricket, Hobbs scored 61,760 runs at an average of 50.70 according to ESPNCricinfo.
Hobbs married Ada Ellen Gates, a Cambridge cobbler's daughter, on 26 September 1906. The pair first met in 1900 at an evening church service held in St Matthew's, Cambridge. The relationship was slowed by Hobbs' shyness and devotion to cricket, but the pair eventually wed at the church in which they met. Although they planned to keep the event quiet, it was reported in the press and the couple received gifts and messages from Hobbs' Surrey team-mates. The pair remained very close for the rest of their lives. Hobbs so disliked being separated from his wife during cricket tours up until 1914 that in later years she often accompanied the team overseas. They had four children: Jack, born in 1907, Leonard in 1909, Vera in 1913 and Ivor in 1914.
Hobbs and his wife lived in rented property for the first years of their marriage. His earnings placed them roughly in the bracket of lower middle class according to McKinstry: although not as poor as he had been during his childhood, the family were not initially financially comfortable. Hobbs wages increased with his reputation so that by 1913, he was earning £375 each year, placing his family within the bracket of the London middle class. After several years of moving from one property to another, Hobbs was able to buy his own house in 1913, in a prosperous area of London. At the height of his fame in the mid-1920s, Hobbs earnings from cricket and other sources probably reached £1,500 a year. Consequently, in 1928 the family moved to a large house in private grounds and Hobbs was able to send his children to private school.
Following his retirement from cricket in 1934, Hobbs continued to work as a journalist, first with Jack Ingham then with Jimmy Bolton as ghostwriters. He accompanied the MCC team to Australia in 1936–37 and published four books which sold well in the 1930s. In addition, he produced two ghost-written autobiographies, but generally avoided self-publicity or controversy. He continued to work at his sports shop and he and Ada moved home several times. By the mid-1930s, his wife was becoming mentally and physically frail. Hobbs supported several charities in his spare time and continued to play cricket at club and charity level. During the Second World War, Hobbs served in the Home Guard. In 1946, Hobbs became the first professional to be elected to the Surrey committee, but he and his wife moved to live in Hove, following several years of health concerns and worries over his business and children. Ada's health continued to deteriorate, and the couple spent some time in South Africa to assist her.
In 1953, Hobbs was knighted, the first professional cricketer to be so honoured. Hobbs was reluctant to accept and only did so when convinced that it was an honour to all professional cricketers, not just himself. In the same year, John Arlott formed the Master's Club, a group of Hobbs' friends who met regularly to toast Hobbs. Hobbs remained active into the 1960s, including working in his shop. By the late 1950s, Ada was wheelchair-bound and Hobbs spent most of his time caring for her. She died in March 1963. Hobbs' health began to fail shortly afterwards and he died on 21 December 1963. He left £19,445 in his will and was buried in Hove Cemetery. A memorial service was held at Southwark Cathedral in February 1964.
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