Flashback: The only player to lead England in football and cricket

For any sportsperson, representing and leading their national team is a thing of joy. For most of the players aspiring to play for their national team, leading your team is a thing of pride. However, there are only a few fortunate players who get that opportunity. But, in the early 1900s, a certain Englishman named Reginald Erskine Foster went on to lead his national team in both football and cricket.

Born on 16 April 1878, Foster was one of the first prominent cricketers to have played for Worcestershire, when the county club was promoted from a minor to a major club in the English county system. RE Foster, who was affectionately known as Tip Foster, played only eight Tests.

Making a huge impact on his Test debut, Foster scored 287 against Australia in 1903-04 in Sydney. Until today, no English player has scored more than him in a single innings in Australia. Interestingly, he also held the record of the highest Test score at the Sydney Cricket Ground for more than a century, before Michael Clarke broke that record with his 329 not out against India in 2012.

He could have had a long career in sports but his business kept him busy and didn’t allow him to play sports regularly. During the early 1900s, he represented the England national Football team as well in five matches. He scored his first international goal against Ireland in a match in 1900. In his final appearance in 1902, he was awarded the leadership role in a match against Wales.

After that, Foster engaged in some football matches but wasn’t able to take part in any international match. But, in 1907, he returned to lead the England national cricket team against South Africa in a three-match Test series. He helped his side to a 1-0 win. After this, he was offered to lead the MCC team for the Ashes tour of 1907/08. He declined the offer due to his business commitments. After that series against South Africa, he only played more first-class matches. However, it is worth noting that he had seven brothers, all of whom played for Worcestershire.

Foster is remembered as one of the finest batsmen during the early stages of English cricket. He died at quite a young age of 36, after suffering severely due to diabetes. In 1914, he failed to recover from a tour of South Africa and died when he got back to England on 13 May. His technique and class as a batsman are renowned on the pages of the history books of English cricket.