Percy Fender

Percy George Herbert Fender (22 August 1892 – 15 June 1985) was an Englishcricketer who played 13 Tests and was captain of Surrey between 1921 and 1931. An all-rounder, he was a middle-order batsman who bowled mainly leg spin, and completed the cricketer’s double seven times. Noted as a belligerent batsman, in 1920 he hit the fastest recorded first-class century, reaching three figures in 35 minutes which remains a record in 2013. On the basis of his Surrey captaincy, contemporaries judged him the best captain in England.

As early as 1914 Fender was named one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year. Afterwar service in the Royal Flying Corps he re-established himself in the Surrey team and became captain in 1921. His captaincy inspired the team to challenge strongly for the County Championship over the course of several seasons, despite a shortage of effective bowlers. Alongside his forceful though occasionally controversial leadership, Fender was an effective performer with bat and ball, although he lacked support as a bowler. From 1921, he played occasionally in Tests for England but was never particularly successful. Despite press promptings, he was never appointed Test captain, and following a clash with the highly influential Lord Harris in 1924, his England career was effectively ended. Further disagreements between Fender and the Surrey committee over his approach and tactics led the county to replace him as captain in 1932 and to end his career in 1935.

A very recognisable figure, Fender was popular with his team and with supporters. Cartoonists enjoyed caricaturing his distinctive appearance, but he was also well known outside cricket for his presence in society. In addition to his cricket career, Fender worked in the wine trade, had a successful career in journalism, and wrote several well-received books on cricket tours. He worked well into the 1970s, even after going blind. He died in 1985.

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