|Full name||Ernest William Bale|
18 September 1878|
Mitcham, Surrey, England
|Died||6 July 1952
Carshalton, Surrey, England
|Domestic team information|
|First-class debut||6 June 1904 London County v Leicestershire|
|Last First-class||23 August 1920 Worcestershire v Lancashire|
|Source: cricketarchive.com, 13 September 2007|
Ernest William Bale (18 September 1878 – 6 July 1952) was an English cricketer who played 148 first-class matches between 1904 and 1920, the great majority of these (138) being for Worcestershire, for whom he was the first-choice wicket-keeper for several years before the First World War. Roy Genders considered that Bale's keeping in 1911, when Worcestershire came ninth in the County Championship — their best finish until 1939 — "contributed greatly towards such an excellent season".
Bale played for Surrey's Second XI in the Minor Counties Championship as early as June 1902, but his first-class debut came exactly two years later, when he appeared for London County against Leicestershire at Crystal Palace Park. He had a quiet match, claiming the single dismissal of Harry Whitehead and scoring 4* and 22*. Later that month, Bale made his Surrey debut, against Oxford University at The Oval, and for the remainder of the season he divided his time between Surrey and London County.
There then followed a significant gap in his first-class career. London County's first-class days were at an end, and Bale had the misfortune to be a contemporary at Surrey with Herbert Strudwick. It soon became clear that the exceptional Strudwick was not likely to be dislodged as the county's regular keeper. Bale played a few times for Surrey's Second XI in 1905, but then determined to qualify for another county, Worcestershire.
He made his debut for Worcestershire in May 1908, against MCC at Lord's; he performed two stumpings, held one catch, and scored 2 and 27. Although he only played eight more games that summer, the following year he was selected on 13 occasions, and by 1910 he had taken over from George Gaukrodger as Worcestershire's number one keeper. He was selected for The Rest to face champions Kent at the end of the season, and Wisden adjudged him second only to Strudwick in England.
Bale played in two official Test Trial games in 1911, but made little impression in either and, with Strudwick now in possession of the England keeper's spot, never came so close to England selection again. For Worcestershire, however, he continued to play consistently up until the First World War; he made his highest score of 43 for the county against the touring South Africans in May 1912. After the war, he played a few more times for Worcestershire, but his place behind the stumps was now mostly being taken by the ill-fated Arthur Jewell and Bale retired from the game in 1920.
Bale was an occasional bowler, and took the first of his nine first-class wickets for London County in 1904, claiming the scalp of Warwickshire's Tom Fishwick. His best bowling of 3–46 was achieved for Worcestershire against H. K. Foster's XI at Hereford in 1919.
- Genders, Roy (1952). "Some Admirable Wicket-keepers". Worcestershire County Cricket. The County Cricket Series. London: Convoy Publications. pp. 87–88.
- "Surrey Second XI v Yorkshire Second XI in 1902". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
- "London County v Leicestershire in 1904". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
- "Surrey v Oxford University in 1904". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
- Obituary. Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, 1953.
- "Marylebone Cricket Club v Worcestershire in 1908". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
- "Rest of England v Kent in 1910". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
- "GL Jessop's XI v PF Warner's XI in 1911". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
- "England v Rest of England in 1911". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
- "Worcestershire v South Africans in 1912". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
- "Warwickshire v London County in 1904". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 September 2007.
- "Warwickshire v HK Foster's XI in 1919". CricketArchive. Retrieved 13 September 2007.