|Batting style||Left-hand bat (LHB)|
|Bowling style||Left-arm fast-medium|
William Henry Scotton (15 January 1856 in Nottingham, England – 9 July 1893 in St John's Wood, London, England) was a cricketer who played for Nottinghamshire and England. Scotton played his first match at Lord's for Sixteen Colts of England against the Marylebone Cricket Club on 11 and 12 May 1874, scoring on that occasion 19 and 0. He was engaged as a groundman by the MCC in that year and in 1875, and after an engagement at Kennington Oval returned to the service of the MCC, of whose ground staff he was a member at the time of his death. His powers were rather slow to ripen, and he had been playing for several years before he obtained anything like a first-rate position. At one period of his career, however, and more particularly during the seasons of 1884 and 1886, he was beyond all question the best professional left-handed batsman in England.
The 1884 and 1885 seasons
In 1884 he scored 567 runs for Nottinghamshire in thirteen matches, with an average of 31.9; in 1885, 442 runs in fourteen engagements, with an average of 22.2; and in 1886, in county fixtures only, 559 runs, with an average of 29.8. Though he several times made higher scores, his finest performance was undoubtedly his innings of 90 for England against Australia at Kennington Oval in August, 1884. The match, resulted in a draw, Australia scoring 551 and England 346 and 85 for two wickets. In England's first innings Scotton went in first, and was the ninth man out, the total when he left being 332. During a stay of five hours and three quarters he played the bowling of Fred Spofforth, Palmer, Boyle, Billy Midwinter, and George Giffen without giving the slightest chance, and but for his impregnable defence it is quite likely that England would have been beaten. Up to a certain time he received very little assistance, but when Walter Read joined him, 151 runs were put on for the ninth wicket.
The 1886 Oval Test
Against the Australian team of 1886 Scotton played two remarkable innings in company with WG Grace, the two batsmen scoring 170 together for the first wicket for England at the Oval. Scotton's score at the Oval was only 34 in 225. When Scotton was out, Walter Read came in and made 94 in 210 minutes. Scotton's slow scoring, particularly when compared with Grace and Read prompted London magazine Punch to print the following parody on Alfred, Lord Tennyson:
- Block, block, block
- At the foot of thy wicket, O Scotton!
- And I would that my tongue would utter
- My boredom. You won't put the pot on!
- Oh, nice for the bowler, my boy,
- That each ball like a barndoor you play!
- Oh, nice for yourself, I suppose,
- That you stick at the wicket all day!
- And the clock's slow hands go on,
- And you still keep up your sticks;
- But oh! for the lift of a smiting hand,
- And the sound of a swipe for six!
- Block, block, block,
- At the foot of thy wicket, ah do!
- But one hour of Grace or Walter Read
- Were worth a week of you!
Scotton paid three visits to Australia, going out with Alfred Shaw's and Arthur Shrewsbury's teams in 1881, 1884 and 1886. In the three tours he averaged respectively in the eleven a-side matches, 20.8, 17.3, and 10.13. Scotton last played first-class cricket in 1891. He then played minor cricket and umpired. Scotton committed suicide on 9 July 1893 by slitting his throat with a razor.
- Cricinfo page on William Scotton
- Much of the article is taken from the 1894 Wisden, which is now out of copyright
- CricketArchive page on William Scotton
- Frith, David (2001). Silence of the Heart - Cricket Suicides. Edinburgh, Scotland: Mainstream Publishing. p. 60. ISBN 184018406X.