The County’s greatest ever all-rounder?
Many consider Maurice Tate to have been the county’s greatest ever all-rounder. Born in Brighton in 1895, Maurice first played for Sussex in 1912. The war interrupted his career but he remained with the county after the war soon scoring a double hundred and bowling his off breaks. In 1922 it was discovered whilst Maurice was preparing for a game against Kent in the nets that if he increased the pace of his bowling he could ‘nip’ the ball off the pitch. The following day with his new-found style he took eight Kent wickets for 32 runs. He continued to bowl off just eight paces, and with grace and coordination.
Over the next two years Maurice’s bowling continued to improve and he was selected to play for England against South Africa at Edgbaston, taking four wickets for twelve. His county captain, Arthur Gilligan, was also playing for England, and together they helped to skittle out South Africa for just 30. From then on Maurice’s progress was phenomenal. In 1923 he took 219 wickets at 13.97 and from 1922 to 1925 he took a total of 848 wickets. He took 100 wickets in a season 14 times, and with his solid batting was able to score 1000 runs in 12 seasons, doing the double on eight occasions.
A record in Australia
Tate was a new-found star for England. He toured Australia three times, and South Africa and New Zealand once each. In 39 tests he scored 1,198 runs and took 155 wickets. On his first visit to Australia he took 38 wickets in a series, a record that remained until 1956.
For Sussex, Tate scored 17,086 runs with 18 hundreds and a top score of 203, together with 2,211 wickets. By 1937 Tate had begun to slow down and he played in only 15 matches that season. He was taken by complete surprise when the county committee decided not to retain his services. He felt bitter and betrayed. He left Brighton and became the licensee of the Greyhound Inn in Wadhurst. He died there in 1956.