George Frederick Tarrant (Wood)


In lieu of a more comprehensive profile here are a few references to George Tarrant.
I would also recommend Derek West’s chapter on Tarrant in his “Twelve Days of Grace.”
Born as George Frederick Tarrant – 7th December 1838

Married as George Wood to Martha – 1860

Died as George Frederick Wood – 2nd July 1870


A grand fast bowler we had in George Tarrant, whose pace was tremendous, and seemed even faster than it was on account of the long run he took before delivering the ball. He was just about as fast as Jackson, but lacked the physique of the latter; and there is no doubt that the great amount of hard work he did in the cricket field shortened his life. He stood 5 feet 7 inches, and weighed little over 9 stone. He was always known by the sobriquet of ‘Tear’em’.

Tarrant was a very good boxer, and George Parr always had him near at hand whenever there was a disturbance anywhere. Once some fellow, half intoxicated, insulted George and challenged him to fight. This, however, was not much in George’s line, but on glancing round and seeing that Tarrant was ‘backing up’, he landed his opponent just one heavy blow, and, stepping gracefully on one side, shouted: ‘Go at him, Tear’em!’ and Tarrant, obeying these orders, quickly polished off his antagonist.

I remember once having a long ‘set-to’ with Tarrant with the gloves, at Dublin, and though he was perhaps a little more scientific than I, still I was quite able to hold my own with him, owing to my superior height and reach.”

“an example of round arm perfection”.

 “two long-stops were often required when Jackson and Tarrant were bowling.”

“Tarrant used to relate an amusing story of an umpire who officiated in a match in which he himself was playing. The umpire stuttered in his speech very much. Tarrant was bowling and cried ‘How’s that?’ for leg before wicket. The umpire being appealed to so sharply could not for some time speak a word, although it was plain to be seen he was endeavouring to give his decision; but Tarrant, who was very impatient, took up the ball, saying, ‘Oh, I can’t wait any longer;’ bowled another ball which knocked the batsman’s middle stump down just as the umpire called out, ‘N-n-not out!’ ‘Not out?’ roared Tarrant; ‘why, look at his middle stump!’ It was a long time before the poor umpire was able to make him understand that the decision referred to his appeal for the leg before of the previous ball.”

“Poor Tarrant, I believe, shortened his life by [bowling past his strength]. For his size his bowling was terrifically fast, and it was a marvel to me how he kept it up as long as he did.” (Richard Daft, “Kings of Cricket” (pub. J W Arrowsmith)Pages 64, 75, 191, 253, 270)
“Tarrant was one of the fastest bowlers that ever lived. He was right hand, and delivered level with his shoulder, taking a long run before doing so. He would be just about the same pace as Jackson, I should say, though he was not able to make the ball get up so much. Tarrant had a great way of getting a batsman out by the ball cannoning off his legs into the wicket. He did this oftener perhaps than any bowler of his time. Tarrant always bowled at the stumps, and never relied much on his field to get his wickets. He was also a very good bat, and at times made large scores, as he hit wonderfully well. Besides this, he was a first-rate field. He was rather a short man and very slightly built. He was of a most excitable temper, and his nickname of ‘Tear’em’ I used to think suited him to perfection.”

When the ship carrying the England team sunk a smaller boat “Tarrant quite lost his head. The first thing he did was to rush down below to get together a collection of curios which had been given to him at different times during our visit. Then when the boat was lowered he endeavoured to get into it, and was told by the sailors to keep out of the way in no very choice language.”

Each player made £250 from the trip.  (Mid-On (Wm Caffyn), “Seventy One Not Out” (pub. Wm Blackwood & Sons, 1890). Pages 156, 214, 217)

Tarrant “was a strong, wiry, active man, one of the quickest bowlers of his time…a bundle of nervous energy, Tarrant took a long run-up, delivered from both sides of the wicket and cut the ball back slightly from the off. He had the killer instinct, intimidating the opposition with bumpers, and one of his specialities was bowling a batsman off his legs. An excellent fielder anywhere, he was no stylish batsman but developed the ability to force the scoring rate…his bowling action(‘all over the place like flash of lightning, never sparing himself’), excitable nature, and irascibility earned him the nickname of ‘Tear’em’”. 6 for 28 in 1st inns for AEE v UAEE 1860.  (D West, “The Elevens of England” (pub. Darf 1988) Page 66).
There was more than one George Tarrant in Cambridge, but it may have been the cricketer who won a one mile walking race on the Trumpington Road in Cambridge in “a few seconds over five minutes”against George Jackson jun. winning £1.  (Cambridge Independent Press 17th May 1862)
 “Jackson, Willsher, and Tarrant had merely to bowl their fastest and straightest [at Lord’s], and the batsman might any ball expect either a dead shooter or a body blow.”  (B Green, “Wisden Anthology 1864-1900” (pub. Queen Anne Press 1979) Page 604)


In his boyhood days Tarrant was known as “Pepper”…”and among his youthful escapades was the riding of horses bare back round the Common standing circus like fashion on their backs.”  (Cambridge Chronicle 7th June 1933 p 9.

AEE touring team to Australia 1863-4 – on board ship E M Grace cured Tarrant’s toothache by pulling his tooth out. [Maybe this explains their close friendship referred to by Low].  (Playfair Cricket Monthly February 1971. Stephen Green “Aboard the Great Britain”)

“When [Spofforth] saw Tarrant of Cambridge carrying all before him during the visit of Parr’s team, his determination to bowl as fast as possible became strengthened…”     (G D Martineau, “They Made Cricket”, Page 158 )
“Interestingly he became a close friend of E M when they toured Australia and New Zealand with George Parr’s team the following winter. Perhaps the fact that both operated on a short fuse helped to cement the relationship.”
At lunchtime during the AEE v 22 of Bristol and District in 1865 Tarrant “offered to give the youngster [W G] some practice. This act of kindness was all the more surprising as Tarrant was notorious in the game for his moodiness and short temper.”  (R Low, “W G” Page 41)
Of the Australian Aboriginal tour of 1867-8, “Charles Lawrence recalled that the leading English fast bowler, George Tarrant, offered to give Mullagh batting practice during the luncheon break at one match. Not only was Mullagh so involved in batting against Tarrant that he missed his lunch, but Tarrant told Lawrence that Mullagh was ‘one of the finest batsmen he had ever bowled against”.   (J Mulvaney and R Harcourt, “Cricket Walkabout” (pub. Macmillan 1988) Page 115)

Professional b. 7/12/38 Cambridge;d. 2/7/70 Cambridge of pleurisy. Brother of Edward. Hard-hitting lower order r/h bat. R/h fast round-arm bowler, good field. Played for Cambridgeshire 1861-68 – 31 matches. Tours: Australia 1863/4; North America 1868.

1st class debut for AEE 1860. Final 1st class match for AEE 1869.

M     I     N O     R     H S     Avge     Catches

71   119     9     1633  108      14.84          58

Runs     Wkts     Avge     5w     10w     b/b

 4792     410+11   11.68       41      10     10/40

1862 –96 wkts at 10.07 1866 61 wkts at 13. 26;

1864 67 wkts at 8.80 1867 44 wkts at 8.70.

1865 45 wkts at 14.15;

Best bowling 10 for 40 for England v XIII of Kent at Lord’s in 1863.  (Bailey, Thorn, Wynne-Thomas, “Who’s Who of Cricketers” (pub. Guild 1984) page 990).