|Cyril Herbert George Bland|
Cyril Bland, c1900
23 May 1872|
Old Leake, Lincolnshire
1 July 1950 (aged 78)|
Maud Foster Drain, Cowbridge, Lincolnshire
|Cause of death||Drowning (suicide)|
|Education||Boston Grammar School|
|Years active||1897-1904 (first class career)|
Cyril Herbert George Bland (23 May 1872 - 1 July 1950) was a first class cricketer, playing for Sussex.
Bland was born at Old Leake, near Boston, Lincolnshire. As a cricketer he was a right-handed batsman and a right-arm fast bowler. In his first class career, which was from 1897 to 1904, he played for Sussex.
He committed suicide on 1 July 1950, drowning in the Maud Foster Drain at Cowbridge, near Boston, Lincolnshire.
Batting and fielding averages
Cyril HG Bland was, and still is, the only Sussex player to take all ten wickets for that county; that was in 1899 (10 for 48 v Kent at Tonbridge - Sussex won by 112 runs after following-on). He took 108 wickets that year with his fast bowling including WG Grace (once) having dismissed him twice fairly cheaply in 1898 when he took 82 wickets (108 in 1900). He took about 550 wickets between 1897 and 1904, even having Plum Warner stumped! Grace and Bland both represented South v North at Lord's in 1900. KS Ranjitsinji and CB Fry were prolific runscorers in the Sussex side at that time - Cyril was not, no doubt exhausted after bowling even up to 52 overs (3 for 207) in one innings. An Australian Commission has today suggested no more than 20 to 30 overs per WEEK for fast bowlers. He chose a team of Blands (himself with sons Harold, Jack and Frank plus one or two daughters and others, all good cricketers) to play in Central Park (Boston) around 1937.
He and his sons all bowled with their (right) bowling arm swinging from behind their back. When I asked him for the reason he said it was to conceal the ball from the batsman although his hands seemed so cavernous that it wasn't really necessary. I wonder if grandson Dick and other descendants had this unusual action - not often seen now. I think that Ranji took him to India for at least one winter. To my knowledge he is still the only Bostonian who has played First Class cricket - certainly none has achieved the standard of Cyril Herbert George Bland.
From Silence of the Heart: Cricket Suicides - By David Frith (ISBN 184018406X)
To return to Sussex, a fast bowler who often took the field with Albert Relf in the first few seasons of the twentieth century was Cyril Bland. He bowled very fast for a summer or two and brought much-needed bite to the Sussex attack, while Ranjitsinhji made the runs of two men for the county. Bland, born in Leake, outside Boston, Lincolnshire, qualified for the southern county (playing for Horsham) and was one of the sensations of 1897 when he took 129 wickets in his maiden season, 95 of them for Sussex. Over the next three summers he took another 302.
He was seen by some as the new Tom Richardson. Personable, wirily built and with ears that stuck out, Cyril Herbert George Bland went all out for pace at a time when the expansion of the county programme was persuading many of the fast bowlers that reduced physical effort and a greater concentration on accuracy would prevent breakdown and thus lengthen their careers, Bland, for a few seasons, went on being explosive.
In June 1899, in Kent's second innings at Tonbridge, he blasted out all ten wickets for 48 off 25.2 overs after his side had followed on. Kent needed 227 to win, but Bland got rid of them for 114 with one of the most remarkable bowling performances in county cricket history, delivering at top speed and getting the ball to kick on a third-day pitch. Two years earlier, against the same opposition at the same venue, he had taken 8 for 65.
As he approached 30 Bland began to lose pace and consistency, and by 1905 he was a 33-year-old ex-county pro, whose successes had started to be overshadowed by whispered claims that he threw. His name was among those tabled at an inquiry at Lord’s in 1901. So the fast bowler who had started with Hertfordshire and the Yorkshire leagues (where the great JT Brown had helped his development) returned to obscurity, to live with his golden memories of Sussex cricket (though it seems he fell foul of Ranji) and of the terror he spread in club cricket when returning such grotesque figures as 9 for 3 (twice) and 8 for 1 for Skegness.
He served in the Army Veterinary Corps in the First World War and was wounded. At one stage he was cricket coach at RAF Cranwell. And in Lincolnshire's flat, broad acres he lived for many more years until, one Saturday in 1950, the first day of July, his body was recovered from the Greenlands Drain in the Maud Foster Canal. He had gone to a great deal of trouble to end it all. His ankles were tied together, knotted at the front up to the knees, which were also tied at the front; likewise his waist, in front of which his hands were tied together. He was fully clothed and his cap was tucked neatly into his pocket. Outside involvement was ruled out. Bland was 78 and, according to a relative, for some time he had been a heavy drinker and an embarrassment to family and friends. There had been an earlier suicide attempt when he slashed his wrists. If his spent days of heady fame and glory had become a source of mental strain, he had lived with it for over half his life.