A Surrey stalwart, Ernest Hayes was one of the finest batsmen of his day, as well as being a useful leg-break bowler, and fine slip fielder. It was in fact his years fielding in the slips to Richardson and Lockwood that curtailed his career - he retired in 1919 as the injuries sustained to his hands fielding in the slips made it increasingly difficult for him to grip the bat. His best years were before the war - he made his debut for Surrey at the age of 19 in 1896, and played continuously through 1914. His finest season was perhaps 1906, when he made 2,309 runs at an average of 45.27, with seven centuries. He was an attractive and dashing bat, his strength lying mostly in his front-foot driving, although he was also a courageous puller of the short ball. He played one Test against Australia in 1909, and also played four times against South Africa in 1905/06 and in the Triangular tournament, although without distinction. He captained the Players against the Gentlemen in 1914, and served with distinction in the First World War, being commissioned, wounded, and awarded the MBE. He re-joined Surrey as an amateur after the war. After 1919 he went to Leicestershire as coach, regulalry playing for the Second XI. In 1926, he was in such strong form for the seconds that he, at the age of 50, was asked to turn out for the County side. He was run-out for 99 in his first innings on his return to first-class cricket, and topped the Leicestershire averages that season. In 1929 he moved to coach Surrey, and later became a publican.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)