George Hirst's one year at Mirfield remembered
HE'S been labelled the first Freddie Flintoff.
And certainly, as cricketing legends go, there are few to touch George Herbert Hirst.
Now a new book about the Kirkheaton- born cricketing superstar is about to be launched.
The publication puts the spotlight on the former England cricket legend - and the author is Pat Neal, a stalwart at Mirfield Cricket Club, where Hirst played.
Hirst played just one summer for the Mirfield club in a career which spanned 40 years for Yorkshire and saw him described by his captain, Lord Hawke, as "the greatest county cricketer of all time".
The official book launch will take place in the Mirfield club's pavilion between 8pm and 9pm tomorrow.
Mr Neal said: "Hirst was the Andy Flintoff or Ian Botham of his day.
"He learned his cricket at Kirkheaton, where he was born in September, 1871. He went on to play 24 Test matches for England between 1897 and 1909.
"But in 1891 he played a single summer for Mirfield and this is the subject of the book.
"Hirst was a superstar, along with another Kirkheaton cricketing giant, Wilfred Rhodes. He is one of the most talented sportsmen to emerge from this area."
The all-rounder batted 16 times for Mirfield in 1891, scoring 416 runs at an average of 34.8, almost double that of the next best batsman. He also topped the bowling charts, with 80 wickets at 4.7 runs apiece.
Mr Neal said: "I had heard a rumour that Hirst had played a couple of games for Mirfield. But it wasn't until I started digging around in the local library that I realised how central he was to the club in 1891."
Mr Neal has been associated with Mirfield Cricket Club - of which he is secretary - for over 20 years, as player and administrator. He has starred in 11 cup finals and has recorded a dozen centuries during his own batting career.
He will give a short talk about the book at the launch.
The book has been published in association with the £50,000 Cricket Heritage Project now running at Huddersfield University and being sponsored by the Heri- tage Lottery Fund.