Lord Hawke was a dominant figure in Yorkshire cricket for over 50 years, and a most influential member of the cricketing establishment. He captained the Yorkshire side for 28 years, and was president of the Club for forty, as well as at various times being President and Treasurer of the MCC. He was a useful batsman, strong on the off-side with 13 first-class centuries and a career average of around 20, but particularly towards the end of his playing career, he would have found it hard to make the strong Yorkshire side on playing ability alone. There is little doubt, however, that under his captaincy, Yorkshire became a formidable team, dominating the County Championship for decades. Hawke was a strong proponent of the Yorkshire policy of only selecting those born on Yorkshire soil that persisted for another 100 years - although perversely he himself was born in Lincolnshire. He took a strong, maybe paternalistic, interest in the welfare of his professional players, and by and large was well liked for it. He was however strict, notably so when expelling the great left-armer Bobby Peel from the first-class game after he turned up on the field of play too drunk to bowl. Sidney Pardon in his obituary commended this action, commenting that this displayed "thoughtful interest for the general welfare of his players". Peel, understandably thought otherwise commenting "Lord Hawke put his arm round me and helped me off the ground - and out of first-class cricket. What a gentleman!"
He was an enthusiastic proponent of overseas tours, leading teams to America, New Zealand, India, West Indies, South Africa, Canada and the Argentine. His five Tests were as captain of touring sides to South Africa in 1895/96 and 1898/99.
Pilloried by some modern writers - particularly Benny Green who wrote that he is remembered "for a succession of monumental blunders which fifty years of apologia from his admirers have done nothing to excuse" - the 7th Lord Hawke was held in the highest of esteem by his contemporaries and colleagues. Wherever the truth lies, there is no diminishing his influence on the game, and his importance in its history.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)