As England continue to celebrate their remarkable first Ashes win Down Under in 24 years, with Alastair Cook achieving an aggregate of 766 runs in the series, it is worth reflecting on the career of a cricketing legend whose amazing record of 905 runs in the 1928-29 Ashes remains unequalled.
Walter Hammond was one of Portsmouth Grammar School’s most successful sporting alumni.
He cut his teeth on the school playing fields at Hilsea, playing regularly for the 2nd XI.
In his spare time, during the long evenings of the summer term, he practised on Southsea Common, helping to coach his less able friends.
At school he was soon identified as a natural hitter, but was also a proficient bowler and fielder, coming first in the ‘throwing the cricket ball’ event on sports day in 1916.
Twelve years later, as a part of England’s strong batting side against the Australians, Hammond, who played for Gloucestershire throughout his career hit his record 905 runs at an average of over 113 per innings.
Often considered to be the best England batsman of the 1930s, Hammond played in 85 tests in a 20-year England career which included 22 centuries, 110 catches and 83 wickets.
From 1933, he headed the national batting averages for eight seasons in succession, a record that has never been equalled.
Today, Portsmouth Grammar School’s cricketing talent is nurtured on the same playing fields on which Wally Hammond and, incidentally, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, once played, perhaps not ironically, under the expert eye of an Australian, head of cricket, Scott Curwood.