"It is perhaps apt that Dick Barlow, whose life revolved around cricket, should be immortalised in one of the best known of cricket poems. Francis Thompson wrote nostalgically:-
..""As the run-stealers flicker to and fro,Barlow immersed himself in the game from boyhood, going on to play for 20 years for Lancashire, and continuing at lower levels of cricket into his sixties. He was a highly respected umpire who officiated in a single Test in 1899. As a batsman he was known for his defence above all, going well forward to almost every delivery. His judgment of length was excellent, and although easy to restrict, he was hard to dismiss. In partnership with his regular partner A.H.Hornby, however, runs came at a reasonable pace, although on one famous occasion the score at the fall of the first wicket read 45/1, Hornby 45, extras 1, Barlow 0*. He was also a superb and effective bowler, slow-medium left arm with immaculate length, clever variation, and a good eye for batsmen's weaknesses. He took a wicket with his first ball in first-class cricket, taking 804 more over the next twenty years at an average of 14.67.
To and fro,
O my Hornby and my Barlow long ago"",
He toured Australia three times, on each occasion playing in every match, and played against Australia seven times at home. Although his highest Test score was only 62, on several occasions he played valuable defensive innings in difficult circumstances. As a bowler he was more successful, his 7/44 at Manchester in 1886 being a match-winning performance. In 1884 playing for North of England against the Australian tourists he took ten wickets in the match, and then made a superb hundred (one of only four first-class centuries in his career) against Spofforth at his best. For the Players in the same year he captured a remarkable hat-trick of Gentlemen - WG, Shuter and Read falling to successive deliveries.
Close to the end of his life he was quoted in the Manchester Guardian as saying ""I don't think any cricketer has enjoyed his cricketing career better than I have done, and if I had my time to come over again I should certainly be what I have been all my life - a professional cricketer""."
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)