April 16, 1884, Parkgate, Rotherham, Yorkshire. Died: February 14, 1919 (Aged 34)
Left-hand bat, Left-arm fast-medium
Unknown. YCCC Cap No. 48.
Taking 10-35 v Somerset at Weston-Super-Mare in 1914 (15-51 in the match)
BATTING AND FIELDING AVERAGES
Drake played football for Rotherham Town Reserves and Doncaster Rovers where he scored as a 17-year-old debutant. He went on to play for Sheffield United (24 goals in the First Division), Birmingham City, QPR and Huddersfield Town before his cricket form for Honley in the Huddersfield attracted the attention of Yorkshire CCC.
Left-hander Drake made his Yorkshire debut in 1909 aged 25 and showed signs of immense promise in the five games he played, claiming 12 wickets. He took 28 wickets in 1910 including a spell of 5-10 against Western at Glasgow.
In 1911 however he firmly established himself in the 1st Team when he scored 1500 runs and averaged 35 with the bat and claimed 84 wickets at 21 apiece.
He took a hat-trick against Essex at Huddersfield in 1912 in a spell in which he took 5 wickets and conceded no runs. He took 3 wickets in 4 balls in a first class 'friendly' Roses Match at Hull that year.
Until the outbreak of the war Drake was one of the first names on the Yorkshire teamsheet. In 1913 he took 115 wickets and topped the Yorkshire averages alongside Major Booth. In that season he claimed a remarkable 4-4 and 3-3 for match figures of 7-7 against Somerset at Bath.
In 1914 he went even better as he took 158, including 11 5-fors. He took all ten Somerset wickets (8.5-0-35-10) in one innings at Weston-super-Mare, his analysis for the full match being 15-51. He grabbed 5-6 in the second innings against Derbyshire at Chesterfield in 1914 including four wickets in four balls.
He bowled unchanged through a match, with Major Booth, who also died during the Great War, in consecutive matches in 1914, against Gloucestershire and Somerset.
He was devastating on poor or rain affected wickets and could bowl long spells and had a fine economy rate on flatter batting tracks. His health was beginning to deteriorate, but on his day, as 1914 had proved, he could bowl Yorkshire to success and was on the verge of a very bright future.
He volunteered for active service and was twice rejected as unfit. Alfonzo Drake died from heart disease on February 14, 1919 at his home near Huddersfield. He was only 34-years-old. The fact that Major Booth also died during the war left a massive hole in the Yorkshire bowling attack as the pair were hoped to spearhead the attack throughout the 1920s.
JMB October 2010