Wednesday, 17 September 2014

ZIP codes of the form DRRRR and RRRRR (repdigit)

In a previous post I recalled a project I tried to do at zipinfo and zipdecode a list of prime near-repdigit ZIP codes. In 2004, I had noticed how, looking only at the prime subset, few ZIP codes of the form DRRRR or RRRRD seemed to exist, and originally planned to examine this.

However, a clearer look shows that in fact near-repdigit ZIP codes are more common that I imagined when I first re-did my work on zipdecode a couple of weeks ago. Thus, I have felt that to list them I will have to subdivide near-repdigit ZIP codes according to the form of the number.

This first installment will look at DRRRR-type near-repdigit ZIP codes, and in the process I will also look at true repdigit ZIP codes. When I first realised not all possible ZIP codes were in use – and the number actually in use for contiguous US addresses covered in zipdecode is fewer than even the 42,000 or so currently in use – I found these numbers interesting because of the coverage of palindromic prime ZIP codes by The Prime Pages and I wanted to look at other unusual codes – as well as prime postcodes here in Australia. I did a bit of work now deleted from the Prime Pages back in 2004, but for some reason felt I should re-do this.

ZIP Code City State Notes
12222AlbanyNew Yorkbetween Washington and Western Avenues
Includes State University of New York campus
13333East SpringfieldNew YorkNortheast of Osego Lake
15555QuecreekPennsylvaniaShared with ZIP code 15561
16666Osceola MillsPennsylvaniaWest of Phillsburg and State Game Reserve 33
17777WatsontownPennsylvaniaon Susquehanna River north of Harrisburg
21111MonktonMarylandnorth of Baltimore on I-83
22222Unassigned (22222 was previously assigned to part of Arlington, Virginia)
25555PrichardWest Virginiaon Kentucky border on Big Sandy River – a tributary of the Ohio River
32222JacksonvilleFloridasouth of 103rd Street, east of Cecil Commerce Center and north of Argyle Forest Boulevard.
35555FayetteAlabamanorthwest of Tuscaloosa on Route 43 in county of same name
37777LouisvilleTennesseeon Tennessee River south of Knoxville
43333LewistownOhioin Logan County 5 kilometres from Indian Lake
44444Newton FallsOhioon the Mahoning River southeast of Warren in Trumbull County
48888StantonMichiganin rural Montcalm County on state 66
51111Sioux CityIowaMostly Sioux City Gateway Airport, but north to Missouri River (where borders on South Sioux City, Nebraska) and east to I-29
52222Deep RiverIowain Poweshiek County,about 75 kilometres (45 miles) from Iowa City.
54444KempsterWisconsinin rural Langland County in north of state
55555Young AmericaMinnesotain Carver County, part of the Twin Cities metropolitan area
now called Norwood Young America
56666PonemahMinnesotain remote Beltrah County on Red Lake Indian Reservation
57777Red OwlSouth Dakotain Meade County east of Rapid City
61111Loves ParkIllinoisin Winnebago County in northernmost part of state; part of Rockford statistical area
62222BellevilleIllinoison Missouri border in St. Clair County; most populous city south of Springfield in downstate Illinois
63333BellflowerMissouriin Montgomery County on lower Missouri River
64444EdgertonMissouriin rural Platte County on border with Kansas
part of Kansas City metropolitan area
65555RaymondvilleMissouriin Texas County in southern Ozarks
71111Bossier CityLouisianain Bossier Parish, part of Shreveport metropolitan area where second largest city
72222Little RockArkansascity downtown directly south of Arkansas River
74444MoodysOklahomain Cherokee County in east of state
75555BivinsTexasin Cass County on border with Arkansas and Louisiana
76666MertensTexasin Hill County in the north central part of the state
79999El PasoTexasPO Boxes only
82222Lance CreekWyomingin Niobrara County in east of state
83333HaileyIdahoin central mountains of state, seat of Blaine County
famous as current home of 1980s tennis star Mats Wilander and birthplace of poet Ezra Pound
92222BardCaliforniain Imperial county on Arizona and Mexico border
95555OrickCaliforniaon North Coast in Humboldt County
96666FPOUnited States Navyall ZIP codes from 96200 to 96699 are Pacific military
Overall, 34 of ninety possible ZIP codes of the forms Rw and DRw are in use, which is only marginally lower a proportion than for all possible US ZIPs and does not suggest near-repdigit ZIP codes are avoided – my mother said today they would be much easier to remember and that people would say them “one double one double one” for the (unassigned) repunit ZIP code. Only codes with repeated zeroes seem to be avoided, perhaps because most state capitals in the US are relatively small towns with a public service orientation much more pronounced than Canberra – for example Frankfort, Kentucky has only 25,000 of about 4,400,000 people in the state.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Near-repdigit prime ZIP codes

Around a decade ago when I was rekindling interest in prime numbers, I studied US ZIP codes because they were noted on the site. I recall from ZIPinfo:
“ZIP code 69577 is not currently assigned by the US Postal Service to any city. Only about 43,000 of the 100,000 possible 5-digit ZIP codes are currently in use.”
and similar sayings for ZIP codes 23333, 86453, 11113, 54342 and no doubt others that I cannot recall. My brother showed me the more user-friendly zipdecode where one could see why the ZIP code 69577 (the number of runs conceded by record-breaking Kent spin bowler “Tich” Freeman in his career) does not exist – if it did it would be in the remote Nebraska Panhandle. In fact no ZIP codes from 69400 to 69999 exist, probably owing to the economic decline of the Plains.

Back in 2004, I looked for near-repdigit prime ZIP codes of the forms RwD and DRw on zipdecode and was struck by how few there actually were relative to the possible ones. I did not count how many possible ZIP codes were but the number I found in use was no more than a handful.

This night, I decided to have a another look and publish my results. Even counting other forms of near-repdigit five-digit prime (RDRw, RRDRR, RwDR) I could find only the following twelve when I found 22229 was no longer used:
ZIP Code City State Notes
10111 New York City New York
11411 Cambria Heights New York a middle-class New York City neighbourhood
16111 Atlantic Pennsylvania in rural western Pennsylvania northeast of Youngstown, Ohio
33331 Fort Lauderdale Florida west of 142nd Avenue and 148th Avenue to 185th Way
38333 Eva Tennessee rural area of Benton County west of Nashville and on Kentucky Lake
44449 North Benton Ohio rural area of Mahoning County south of Berlin Lake and Route 62, due east of Akron.
77377 Tomball Texas Houston exurb in northwest of metropolitan area
77477 Stafford Texas Houston exurb near Sugar Land
77977 Placedo Texas
small village between Victoria and San Antonio Bay
79999 El Paso Texas post office boxes only
94999 Petaluma California southern Napa Valley north of San Pablo Bay. Rural area of Sonoma County and major wine-growing area.
99929 Wrangel Alaska superhumid southeast Alaska not far from Ketchikan
A recent calculation showed thirty-five possible near-repdigit prime ZIP codes without leading zero, which means 34.28 percent of possible near-repdigit prime ZIP codes are in use. Given that the US Postal Service and most others do not need to use every possible code, it is natural that extremely repetitious codes like “two-three-three-three-three” or “two quadruple three” would be avoided, for the obvious reason that they are tough to memorise! Thus, it is not surprising that of the twelve, four are “palindromic wing primes” (out of six possible) and only three have four consecutive copies of one digit. The proportion actually used is certainly larger than I had thought, because it is tough to be really thorough from the prime table I have been using.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Proof of how insular our suburbs really are

Over the past decade and a half, just how insular and unaffected by prevailing trends in music and culture the suburbs in which I and most children in Australia were raised actually are has dawned upon me.

Even when I still lived at Keilor Downs, I was well aware that many different stations existed in suburban Australia. The vast majority of small stations, however, played extremely conservative and often very old pop music, and only Triple J and Triple R played anything different from what Joe S. Harrington and David Keenan demonstrated to me during the 2000s as extremely derivative commercial music whose originators were never heard on Australian radio.

What Triple J at all events played was generally even worse – tuneless, noisy grunge bands like Silverchair, the Offspring and Nirvana which I had so little patience with that it drove me off commercial radio when hearing the tuneless “New Mexico, New Mexico”. The music of community stations I already thought very uninteresting, but it was not as bad as those bands or the Presidents of the United States of America – and experience was making it tough for me to try “alternative” music as I thought “alternative” was all really violent and inspired people to say things like “I’ll (expletive) kill you” or “I’m gonna shoot you, (expletive)”, which had me worrying about my life.

However, reading about music on a broader scale showed that – whilst I was only able to listen to a very restrictive range of pop music – a musical and cultural revolution was happening in the Enriched World, whereby gangsta rap and thrash metal were becoming mainstays of most of the population, especially the working masses. “Generation X”, as it was called, took up radical individualism and radical egalitarianism as its basic ideals, ones that were heard on the mainstream of Australian radio very little and only for a few years in the middle 1990s before teen pop took hold of airplay.

As a young man, I assumed these ideals would be stronger in Australia because of its “car culture”, but now I recognise that the insular character of the family car is actually entirely opposite to the extreme masculinity (much more absolute hatred of traditional femininity) found in the Enriched World’s modern culture.

In recent times, election results and opinion polls show that we are witnessing a repeat of this divergence (in other words, a further divergence of suburban Australia from Enriched World political standards). Whereas Enriched and Tropical World cities are so densely crowded any child is enfolded in noise, as I can testify from being in Berlin and Singapore, most Australian cities are extremely quiet and there is ample space for families to play and enjoy themselves as well as study.

Under such conditions, it is clear that parents would prefer to avoid something at all angry, let alone the anti-religion anthem of the Enriched World’s Generation X – ‘(expletive) Hostile’

or what may become its equivalent for the Enriched World’s “Generation Y” and “Generation Z” – the overtly controversial ‘Pearl of a Girl’

because these would be disturbing to the establishment of family relationships. Indeed, it is very likely that hearing such songs would have an effect on community relationships in general, because their message is clearly one of complete individualism with laws to eliminate restraint thereon, as opposed to merely an absence of laws to limit individualism. At the same time, songs like ‘(expletive) Hostile’ are what can teach children about industrial-age Enriched World culture – the music taught in schools does nothing theretoward.

In 2003, Peter Rentfrow and Samuel Gosling in ‘The Do Re Mi’s of Everyday Life: The Structure and Personality Correlates of Music Preferences’ showed that there exists an “upbeat and conventional” category characterised by
“genres that emphasize positive emotions and are structurally simple”
which clearly corresponds to the type of emotions mothers would wish to convey to their children, rather than the “structurally complex” character of classical and jazz or the “full of energy and emphasise themes of rebellion” character of alternative and metal. It is thus not surprising that pop, soundtrack and religious music dominate in quiet and isolated residential enclaves distant from commercial or academic hotbeds. This is indeed the tendency I saw at every record store in the outer suburbs of Melbourne during my regrettable “galloping round the countryside” on buses a decade ago: the shelves, much more than in city stores, were filled with “easy listening” and country artists who would be considered dated by most in the Enriched World or inner suburbs.

Major and most minor radio stations are all present or past “pop and Top 40” in format – completely lacking are the college stations or non-classical public stations of the Enriched World – so that there is little incentive to play much variety of songs. Neither have genuinely cutting-edge bands toured Australia whilst in what critics regard as their “prime” – for instance Metallica were all but unknown down under until they released their self-titled album, whose change of style caused many old fans and later converts to their 1980s albums to rename the band ‘Selloutica’ or ‘Metallicash’. Young mothers and fathers would certainly turn off the radio if they played a song like ‘Pearl of a Girl’ whether they heard the blasphemous lyrics or not, whereas the students and lower-class workers of Enriched World cities, feeling unjustly treated by the market or politicians, take perfectly to them and their messages that people have every right to do whatever they want no matter how it affects others (emotionally as well as physically).

The recent findings of Jason Millward in the 18 August Advertiser should thus not be considered remotely surprising, although major radio stations used to have lists of the top 500 songs or albums of all time and still do “no repeat” days during the week, whose veracity I have always believed without ever bothering to check. Millward’s study, like last year’s election, should be as instructive to foreigners wanting to learn about Australia as to Australians themselves, and my hope is that it will begin a long-needed correction of misconceptions about Australia and its culture.

Monday, 18 August 2014

The potential for a worse tragedy than Australia’s road lobby has created

The sixth extinction crisis due to the industrial revolution – produced by the discovery of how to smelt metals more reactive than iron – has become a tragedy as Australia’s greenhouse emissions soar under no international pressure. However, it has recently dawned on me that, aside from Australia’s horrifically poor greenhouse gas emissions, there has been a major epidemic of poisoning in the Old World tropics that could very nearly compare in potential for extinctions with the mistreatment of Australia, even taking into account the secondary productivity being many times higher.

It is well-known that Rachel Carson in Silent Spring exposed the potential for pesticides to kill birds, although the birds Silent Spring documented to be affected are very short-lived (averaging around 50 percent annual mortality) and hence their populations can recover very swiftly once poisons such as DDT are removed from the environment. Bald eagles are an exception, but even they live for an average of only five or six years in the wild. In contrast, Indian vultures lay only one egg every two years and have an average lifespan well in excess of the oldest known individual of small Enriched World songbirds – which for species with a million or more banding records is typically around fifteen years. The discovery by Lindsay Oaks in 2003 that diclofenac poisoning had caused a 99.9 percent reduction in numbers of three Indian vulture species – Gyps bengalensis and the recently split Gyps indiens and Gyps tenuirostris – over less than one generation thus dwarfs Carson’s work.

Nonetheless, even in the 1960s Silent Spring was much better known than Lindsay Oaks’ writings are now, and with time that book’s fame has increased despite its distinctly specialised subject matter. Eleven years after Oaks’ groundbreaking vulture discovery, Darcy Ogada of National Geographic shows that the use of poisons to poach rhinoceroses and elephants on the African savannas is taking over from guns. Cyanide ion (CN) has indeed taken over from guns, and Ogada shows it has the potential to create a crisis equal to that produced by diclofenac in India.

As poisoning takes over from guns to kill elephants, Africa’s vultures face a decline similar to that observed in India when diclofenac was used to ease pain in dairy and draft cattle.
Species richness of predatory and scavenging birds.
Note the high diversity in East African savannas.
As elephants and rhinoceroses are poached more and more via poisoning, Africa’s large communities of scavenging birds face extinction in a very short time and it is likely less could be done than even India’s very moderate achievements in reducing sale of diclofenac, given the political problems faced by most of sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, there is the potential for entire communities of raptors to become entirely extinct with no survivors – and East African savannas have the world’s highest species richness of these birds, as can be seen from the attached diagram.

Such a loss would be equal to the virtually certain loss – unless the Enriched World can eliminate petty policy quarrels and unite to demand a no-compromise zero-emissions target from Australia – of the supremely rich plant communities of southwest Western Australia to runaway drying of the winter climate. Like the devastation created by freeway-based transport and coal-based energy policies in Australia – instead of a plan for and vision of a continent with equal or greater mobility for every inhabitant without one single private motorised vehicle – poachers in Africa are producing a policy that will exterminate every large scavenger and possibly many large predators in addition to their “target” elephants and rhinoceroses. The consequences for this would be disastrous, because vultures in all but the coldest or most oligotrophic environments pay critical roles in destroying microbes that cause diseases like rabies in dogs and humans.

If Africa was to lose its vultures completely, it would face disease outbreaks that would be exceedingly difficult to control, since its resources are more thinly spread than India’s and it has much larger areas of wild animals that could potentially infect humans. There is also the possibility that other dangerous herbivores could grow in numbers without elephants and rhinoceroses – or that the many smaller species that have mutualistic relationships with elephants would also become extinct, multiplying the crisis.

That the time to start on preventing mass wildlife poisoning in Africa – just as much as on making Australia pay the entire cost its appalling and worsening energy and transport policies have or will have for the climate of the rest of the world – is now. The Indian vulture crisis shows that, in the Tropical and Unenriched Worlds, consequences must be much more carefully considered than in the Enriched, owing to the orders-of-magnitude greater antiquity of their ecosystems.

Cricketers Who Missed Out: 1926

In three previous posts including an introduction, I have noted the fact that special portraits eliminated Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1913, 1921 and 1926. As a result, and inspired by Scyld Berry’s 2008 Never a Cricketer of the Year, I have on-and-off in the past five years tried to consider who would have been chosen but for the special portraits of John Wisden, Pelham Warner and Jack Hobbs.

This post will look at who would have been the Five Cricketers of the Year but for Hobbs’ special portrait in 1926. To do this we will need to look at who achieved most in the 1925 English season and had not been chosen. If the cricketer in question was later chosen, I will look at who might have been chosen in his stead for that year.

The 1925 English season in a sense marks the end of an era: it will remain the last season with no overseas touring team, so that potential Cricketers of the Year had to base performances on county cricket, Gentlemen v Players, and the University matches. The season was notable for two features:
  1. Five bowlers took 200 wickets – in no other season did more than three reach that number
    • One reason for the decision to have a special portrait of Jack Hobbs may have been that of the six bowlers with over 150 wickets, all bar Root had already been chosen, and of the nine batsmen with over 2,000 runs every one was ineligible.
  2. England’s driest cricket-season month in June with only 4.3 millimetres – which would have been still less but for a rain event confined on June 24 to the east. In the “post-shooter era” (before which rough and stony pitches made batting as or more dangerous in dry weather vis-à-vis wet) since the 1870s, the next driest months during an English cricket season have been:
    1. August 1995 with 9.1 millimetres
    2. June 1921 with 10.6 millimetres
    3. May 1896 with 12.0 millimetres
    4. May 1991 with 13.7 millimetres
    5. August 1947 with 14.4 millimetres
Apart from the amazing June, 1925 was distinctly damp, though it was late in July before May’s rains returned. The dry June produced many fiery or crumbled pitches, which contributed to the big wicket hauls of Tate, Root and McDonald, whilst Charlie Parker was deadly when the rain came in July. Disparities in batting strength between the counties were amazing: averages per wicket ranged from 38.71 (Yorkshire) to 14.94 (Glamorgan), but in bowling only from 18.11 (Yorkshire) to 27.66 (Warwickshire)!

As I have noted the dependence on county cricket in the last season with no touring team, we will look in order at the counties:
  • Yorkshire, in their fourth successive Championship season, set a record for the longest unbeaten season in county cricket with 21 wins and no losses. England’s best-ever batsman (at least after W.G. Grace in his prime), Herbert Sutcliffe, began his golden period of eight successive years averaging over fifty. Macaulay was their bowling mainstay with 211 wickets, but none of their key players were eligible.
  • Surrey, with Hobbs and Sandham hitting sixteen centuries between them plus solid support from Shepherd, Jardine, Fender and Peach, were able in dry weather to win fourteen games even with moderate bowling and Ducat and Jeacocke playing little. Apart from perhaps Shepherd, no important player was eligible: Alan Peach averaged a respectable 21 on Oval pitches but did much too little bowling (under 800 overs) to be a contender.
  • Lancashire, who started well, faltered later in the year owing to the loss of Ernest Tyldesley, but still won nineteen games and lost four. The bowling of McDonald was superb and Richard Tyldesley consistently accurate, but Parkin declined. The batting depended too much on Hallows, Watson, Makepeace and amateur John Reginald Barnes, leaving quite a long “tail”.
  • Nottinghamshire improved after a disappointing 1924 as Tich Richmond was deadly at the beginning and end of the season, whilst Harold Larwood established himself as a bowler of genuine pace with dangerous break-back. Fred Barratt and Sam Staples maintained their form as stock bowlers. Arthur Carr became the first batsman to hit fifty sixes in a season, but was ineligible. Veteran Wilfrid Payton and Willis Walker also improved with the bat but only Payton was remotely outstanding enough for a potential nomination.
  • Kent, despite a strong finish, lost too many games before August to threaten the top four. Woolley and Hardinge dominated the batting and Freeman the bowling, though “Father” Marriott did important work in winning Kent the August games. Only Hardinge of their key players was eligible, and he was by no means in his best form – scoring 700 fewer runs than in 1921, 1922, 1926 or 1928.
  • Middlesex, despite losing only three games, lacked the bowling to threaten the brilliant batting of the other “big six” counties, except the Ernest Tyldesley-less Lancashire. Jack Durston did bowl well to average eighteen but took relatively few wickets even considering Middlesex’s slightly restricted program, Nigel Haig and J.W. Hearne averaged over 22, and their major batsmen in Hearne, Hendren and Greville Stevens were all ineligible.
  • Essex rose to seventh after a disastrous 1924, despite the decline of Johnny Douglas who had lost all his pace. This was due to the excellent batting of veterans Russell and Perrin on the dry Leyton pitches, the improvement as a bowler of “colt” Stan Nichols, and the valuable bowling of amateurs George Louden and Laurie Eastman. Louden played only eight games but won four of them, but all their top regular players were ineligible.
  • Warwickshire rose by one place but had a worse record, winning one game more but losing five more. Their batting, however, relished the bone-dry June, with such players as Freddie Calthorpe, Jack Parsons, Tiger Smith and Leonard Bates forming a formidable batting lineup with Bob Wyatt and Frederick Santall. However, with Wyatt declining as a bowler, Harry Howell had little support when Neville Partridge had business commitments and was below his best except in a few games, even with Smith keeping as well as he batted.
  • Hampshire, with Newman in very poor bowling form and the amateur batting that permitted them to mix with the “big six” between 1914 and 1923 declining, owed a minor improvement the bowling of Alec Kennedy and Stuart Boyes. Both bowlers improved their average by several runs despite less favourable conditions in June and early July. Day played only nine games and only Tennyson – who had his best season with 1,335 runs – and Jameson of the amateurs averaged over twenty.
  • Gloucestershire’s weakness in batting was more severe than in the wet summer of 1924, so they lost six more games. Only Dipper and Wally Hammond took advantage of the brilliant June weather, and Dipper did better than when chosen for England in 1921. Wicket-keeper Harry Smith disappointed with the bat, and all available amateurs failed against first-class bowling. Charlie Parker, however, was unplayable against the poor technique of the weak counties on both crumbled June wickets and later sticky ones. He took seventeen for 56 against Essex at Gloucester, and twice took 48 wickets in nine innings.
  • Northamptonshire improved from three to nine wins, despite retaining a severe batting weakness with only four players exceeding twenty an innings. They beat Essex and Kent at home, but opposed neither Surrey nor Middlesex and lost every other game against the top seven. Vallance Jupp’s recovery of the spin bowling form he showed for Sussex, the availability of class medium pacer Phillip Wright for the full season and the emergence of left-arm speedster “Nobby” Clark made the bowling solid.
  • Leicestershire remained stagnant, in spite of excellent bowling on firm wickets by Geary and Skelding, because of inadequate batting. Aubrey Sharp was not seen in the county team, and John King averaged no more than in 1924 with much more favourable conditions. Thus, even with Geary and Astill batting better than before and Leslie Berry scoring 1,000 runs for the season if at a very modest average, the county was deficient on the rock-hard June pitches. Moreover, although Claude Taylor batted well when he joined the team, Eddie Dawson was so disappointing as to average only 12.18.
  • Sussex, despite an amazing season from champion Maurice Tate who bowled more balls than any bowler since Alfred Shaw in 1878, finished thirteenth with only nine wins and sixteen losses. Tate and Bowley were the only regular players to average over 22, and except when Romilly Holdsworth played their batting was too much of the hard-hitting type, which cost the games with Yorkshire at Bradford and Nottinghamshire and Somerset at Brighton. Bert Wensley, who had averaged 38.72 for 22 wickets in 1924, took 103 wickets to be a surprise packet but was not good enough to be a chance for a Cricketer of the Year nomination.
  • Derbyshire, despite their chief bowlers in Bestwick, Morton, Cadman and Horsley all being over forty, plus having batting dependent on recruit Garnet Lee and captain Jackson, advanced three places with five wins as against none. Leslie Townsend – later to become their deadliest sticky-wicket bowler – took only 28 expensive wickets but scored 808 runs, whilst Lee and Jackson became their first batsmen to reach four figures since the war with five hundreds between them without being nearly good enough to approach the top of the tree.
  • Somerset, with the loss of top batsman Jack MacBryan for all but six games, declined from their mid-table placings of 1919 to 1924 with only three wins. Lyon, their other chief batsman in 1924, played only five games, and skipper John Daniell only eleven. The decline of their batting was seen in no-one reaching four figures and Jack White being second-highest run-scorer with 793 at 19.82 per innings. White lacked support in bowling with Jimmy Bridges taking twelve fewer wickets and Robertson-Glasgow taking no more wickets in six more games.
  • Worcestershire fell from fourteenth to sixteenth. They could never maintain a settled team because limited finances allowed only a small professional core and high taxes meant no amateur except Maurice Foster (the youngest of that famous family) could spare the full season away from business. Foster did not bat as well as before, and Fred Pearson was clearly too old as shown by averaging 37 with the ball, but Fred Root was a wonder for such a poor side with 207 wickets in all games – over half the wickets taken by Worcestershire bowlers. Root’s in-swing and pace off the fast June pitches, along with his tirelessness, showed how much Tate would have benefited from his presence in Australia the previous winter.
  • Glamorgan, owing to woeful batting, fell from a promising thirteenth in 1924 to dead last with the equal most defeats in a Championship season – twenty in twenty-six games with only one win. Their batting was so lacking in technique that only Bates, with 120 against Surrey at the Oval, made a score of over seventy-five amongst 511 individual innings. (In contrast, Surrey’s batsmen made thirty-six such scores in 379 individual innings)! Norman Riches, their one batsman above Minor Counties standard, averaged only 24 in seven games against generally modest bowling, and Downside schoolboy Maurice Turnbull scored one fifty in ten innings. Jack Mercer bowled extremely well against Surrey and Lancashire on hard pitches and established himself as a high-class medium-pacer, whilst Frank Ryan did even better than in 1924 with 127 wickets.
Looking for likely Cricketers of the Year in 1926 is exceptionally reliant on county matches, as there were no outstanding performances in the Gentlemen versus Players games, which were dominated by batsmen. If we look at the county matches, the following candidates emerge:
  1. Fred Root – picked himself like few actual choices. With 196 county championship wickets, Charles Frederick Root had an astonishing season. His pace off the pitch and in-swing were extremely difficult for all batsmen, who could seldom avoid edging the ball to the ring of leg-side fielders.

    Root began his first-class cricket career with Derbyshire in 1910 as an orthodox medium-pace bowler, but even for a weak county he played regularly only in 1913. At a time when both counties would rank among the weakest ever, Derbyshire allowed Root to move to Worcestershire in 1921, and during the following year and a half he developed his innovative in-swinging style, in some ways reminiscent of Frank Robotham Foster, and brought it before the public to limited knowedge in August 1922. However, the following season, Root rose to one of the leading bowlers in the country, effective on all sorts of wickets and amazingly untiring. He maintained this form in 1924 with only poor form on a soft-topped wicket at the Oval costing Root a ticket to Australia.

    1925, however, saw Root far surpass his previous record, and indeed any Worcestershire bowler in history. Only twice did he fail completely, his persistence made the best batsmen struggle over epic innings and his unique style quickly removed worse batsmen. Root was the second to reach 100 wickets (on July 4) and was still at his very best in September. He did not play for the Players against the Gentlemen in 1925, but bowled very well despite slow pitches in three games against the 1926 Australians. He was disppointing for Worcestershire that year, but in 1927 was amazingly second in the averages for a team that won one game out of thirty. Root scored over a thousand runs in 1928 (with a century against Tich Freeman and 93 against Larwood) but declined as a bowler to again miss touring Australia. He regained some of his form subsequently until 1932, when he declined so badly as to lose his place. After retiring, Root wrote A Cricket Pro’s Lot, the classic account of the life of a professional cricketer in the inter-war years.

  2. Tiger Smith – already a veteran of the 1911/1912 tour when the 1925 season opened, had his best season both behind the stumps and with the bat. His 1,477 runs was only his second four-figure aggregate in a career that had gone back to 1904, and his dismissals aggregate of 46 catches and nine stumpings was commendable behind the poorest attack in the Championship. Smith played a brilliant innings of 139 to help Warwickshire knock off 390 for one wicket against Sussex, and played two centuries against Leicestershire, in which he attacked the speed off the ground of Skelding and Geary superbly.

    Ernest James “Tiger” Smith was born on February 6, 1886 at Highgate in Birmingham, and first played for Warwickshire as a teenager in 1904, but only occasionally until Dick Lilley stepped down from wicket-keeping after 1909. Smith was so quick to seize his chance that by 1911 with 827 runs he was chosen for the Ashes tour and was a vital support for the brilliant combination of Frank Foster and Sidney Barnes. Smith also kept during the 1912 Triangular Tournament and just failed to reach 1,000 runs in 1912 and 1913, but lost his place for good on the South African tour. After the war, Smith remained a mainstay of the Warwickshire eleven, but it was only in 1925 that he came back to his best form – and more with the bat.
    Frank Ryan

    Apart from a severe decline in 1926, Smith maintained his batting form but declined behind the stumps before retiring in 1930, after which he stood as umpire until World War II. Nonetheless, even as a nonagenerian Smith was capable of the most incisive comments on more modern players such as Bob Taylor and Graham Gooch.
  3. Francis Peter Ryan – the last notable cricketer to be born in the United States, took like Root and Smith a long time to achieve prominence. He played for Hampshire in 1919 and 1920 but became known for heavy drinking rather than cricket, then went to the Lancashire League before Glamorgan qualified him to replace middle-aged bowlers Jack Nash, Harry Creber and Stamford Hacker.

    Although already thirty-five, Ryan bowled very well for Glamorgan in 1923 and 1924. Very tall at around six feet three or 190 centimetres, Ryan could turn the ball both ways with his long fingers, and when pitches were helpful the ball would turn so fast that few could resist him for long. 1925 saw Ryan, after a slow start, come into his best-ever form in July: in one week on excellent batting pitches he took 27 for 225, including 14 for 165 against Essex. On the wet pitches of the last six weeks, despite having to defend tiny totals time after time, Ryan bowled with undiminished enterprise and skill. He finished 1925 with 139 wickets at an impressive 17.78, but Ryan’s lack of self-discipline then re-asserted itself: a famous incident was when he slept under pitch covers during one away game! By 1927, his haul of wickets had been cut in half, and though at forty-one he re-asserted himself with 134 wickets in 1930, Glamorgan’s desperate finances caused them to release him after 1931.

    Ryan had no pretensions as a batsman or fielder, and this along with his erratic temper may have kept him out of even minor representative matches, but he was the best slow left-hander outside Yorkshire in the middle 1920s, being more dangerous on firm pitches than Rhodes or Woolley.
  4. George Geary
  5. George Geary – chosen the following year, was the greatest cricketer Leicestershire produced in its first seventy-five years as a first-class county, and rose to prominence in 1925 not only with the ball, but also as a batsman with 122 against Tich Freeman. This was to remain his highest score as well as his first century, and possibly his finest-ever innings, marked by very sound defence against a bowler who always demanded impeccably sound technique. In that same match Geary too eight wickets for 61 runs but Kent still won!

    Geary played once for Leicestershire in 1912 and regularly in 1913, when he surprisingly established himself as the best bowler in the eleven with 79 wickets, and in 1914 he took 112. However, in 1919 Geary did modestly and then moved to the Lancashire League, playing no first-class cricket in 1920 and only five games in 1921. However, with Ted McDonald signed by Nelson for 1922, Geary re-established himself for Leicestershire immediately, and in 1923 and 1924 took over 100 wickets. He did not take quite so many wickets in 1925, but injuries affected his progress somewhat and growth as a batsman made Geary better than ever.

    In the following few years, apart from the injury-affected 1928, Geary reached his peak and with Tate formed a hard-working fast-medium-pace attack perfectly suited to seven-day games on Australian pitches. From 1930, injuries affected his performance, but as late as his second benefit in 1936 Geary took thirteen wickets for 43 runs, and in his last season scored three centuries and may have reached four figures but for being unable to stand the strain of a full season.
  6. Alfred Dipper
  7. Alfred Ernest Dipper was an archetypal county batsman with one of the most solid defences in the game during the 1920s. This was a critical asset for a county devoid of industrial patronage and able to afford only a small professional staff with only one specialist batsman.

    Dipper first played for Gloucestershire in 1908 and after a hesitant start established himself in 1911 and 1912, taking over from Jessop as Gloucestershire’s leading batsman. After the war, he advanced into the top rank of batsmen, but was not good enough to tour in 1920/1921 and by 1924 the incomparable Herbert Sutcliffe had ended his chances. Nonetheless, Dipper had his best season to that point in 1925, scoring nearly two thousand runs and finishing with a brilliant partnership of 330 with Hammond against the powerful Lancashire attack. The example of Hammond helped Dipper become less defensive, but his ability to “farm” the bowling had for many years been as essential asset in making a large proportion of Gloucestershire’s runs, despite never losing inherent cautiousness.
    Vallance Jupp batting

    As a medium pace spin bowler, Dipper did useful work in 1919 and 1920, but did not bowl once between 1923 and 1929. His fielding, despite being a sound catcher, was poor since he lacked mobility, which may have kept him from playing regularly in the 1921 Tests after scoring 40 against Gregory and McDonald.

  8. Vallance William Crisp Jupp was chosen two years later in 1928 but would certainly have been a potential choice based upon his all-round form in 1925, which placed him as the best all-rounder in county cricket after Maurice Tate, Percy Fender and Roy Kilner.

    Jupp’s all-round cricket was the most decisive factor in Northamptonshire’s rise to nine wins, the most they had in twenty-five seasons between 1914 and 1948. He took 110 wickets in county matches with his flighty off-spin and was the mainstay of Northamptonshire’s batting. When wickets helped him, Jupp could trouble any batsman, as he showed with twelve for 105 against Essex, but he also took 4 for 17 on a good pitch against Warwickshire and saved his county against Freeman at Gravesend and scored 60 not out against Parkin, Richard Tyldesley and Sibbles on a sticky wicket at the end of July.

  9. Wilfred Richard Daniel Payton was a batsman who gave extremely long and valuable service to Nottinghamshire, despite not reaching four figures until the 1921 season. The 1925 season saw Payton, despite the effects of illness, record his best average to that point of over 46 – though helped by eleven not out innings.

    Despite his very slight build, Payton was a fundamentally a sound batsman with a solid defence, though on occasions early in his career he did play quite brilliant innings. His unbeaten 140 on a slightly wearing wicket against Cambridge University – involving a partnership of 117 with Tich Richmond that turned a disadvantageous position into an innings victory – was particularly notable, but Payton also played 103 not out against Northamptonshire at Trent Bridge and scored 204 in two innings against Middlesex at that ground in a famous match in June where the metropolitan county knocked off 502 against Larwood, Staples, Barratt, Richmond and Francis Cyril Matthews.

    Payton was to continue to do well for Nottinghamshire until 1930, after which he was dropped in  a “youth policy” by a committee long concerned at the age of most of Nottinghamshire’s players – though after a disastrous motor accident deprived them of Sam Staples, Larwood and George Vernon Gunn he played four more matches in 1931.
In comparison to 1913 and 1921, the success of previously-chosen players leaves few available choices for 1926, and since Payton and Jupp did not do enough against the powerful counties I would predict Root, Tiger Smith, Ryan, Geary and Dipper would have been chosen.

The choice of Geary (honoured the following issue) would have opened the way for John Alfred Newman – whose career looked “past it” in 1925 – to have been chosen for 1927 and eliminate the absence of one of the most loyal and prolific county cricketers not honoured by Wisden. 1926 saw Newman, already a veteran, return to his very best form with bat and ball. Despite being very expensive at the finish, his skilful bowling was able to take advantage of many wet pitches against weak opponents, and even against Lancashire in August he took five for 44. Two fine batting displays, along with fourteen wickets, was a spectacular all-round achievement against an admittedly weakened Gloucestershire team.

Newman as of 1926 had played for Hampshire for twenty years as a medium-fast bowler with sharp spin and life from the pitch, who at times was too enterprising for his own good. Still, on helpful pitches on his day he could be more formidable than his more consistent partner Alec Kennedy, as he was to show with 16 for 88 against Somerset in 1927, and 11 for 31 against Northamptonshire in 1926 – in a match where Tennyson, after Newman’s poor 1925, did not bowl him until late in the first innings. Newman established himself as Hampshire’s chief bowler in 1908, and 1910 saw him bowl better than ever, with his quick off-break being very difficult on the prevailing soft pitches. He did not equal his 1910 form before moving to India during World War I, but his solid batting developed so well that he scored a thousand runs in 1914. Upon his return in 1920, Newman took a year to find his form but in 1921 bowled tirelessly and batted better than ever – taking 177 wickets and scoring a thousand runs. His failure, along with that of Kennedy, against the formidable Australian batting no doubt placed Newman completely out of the running for representative cricket, but until injury ended his career after the 1930 season Newman remained a Hampshire mainstay in both batting and bowling.