Before Gimblett: Bertie’s brilliant debut bow!

Going into the 1907 season things were hardly looking rosey for Somerset County Cricket Club, so much so that Wisden said of the County that “there is no disguising the fact that the outlook for Somerset in the immediate future is far from hopeful”.

The beleaguered captain Lionel Palairet was quoted in the Press as saying that his “team had quite lost that spirit of playing together which was the Secret of the success in the old days”.

Things were so bad for Somerset captain going into a game away at Worcester on the 20th June 1907 that Palairet was struggling to raise the side. So he turned to a player who had been recommended to him called Bertie Bisgood, a wicketkeeper/batsman who hailed from Glastonbury and he would announce his arrival in County Cricket with a brilliant debut.

Bisgood would become the first Somerset player to score a century in his first first-class game.  People talk about Harold Gimblett’s brilliant debut some 28 years later but Bertie did it first and these two remain the only two Somerset players to achieve a century on first-class debut.

In Somerset’s first innings at Worcester, Bertie came in at No 3 when Palairet was out for a single and proceeded to score 82 in a second wicket stand of 153 with Len Braund, who helped himself to a fine century. In the second innings Bertie made an unbeaten 116 enabling Somerset to declare, though the match was eventually drawn.

But if Somerset thought they had unearthed a gem from nowhere to change their ailing fortunes then unfortunately they were wrong as Bertie played in nine further matches in 1907 without passing 50 once.

In fact it would be some seven years later in 1914 that Bisgood would come close to equalling the feats of his debut in a match against Gloucestershire at Taunton. In the first innings, he made 116 in three hours, the second century of his career equalling his first; then in the second innings he led Somerset to a rare victory by making an unbeaten 78 out of a total of 134 for three wickets, made in 70 minutes.

Bisgood reappeared after the First World War in two matches in the 1919 season.

In all Bertie Bisgood played 67 first-class games for Somerset scoring 2,143 runs at a rather modest 18.79, including two centuries and seven fifties.

His brother Eustace Bisgood played 1 game for Somerset in 1909.

Bertie Bisgood was a devout Catholic and threw himself into the Catholic Church when his cricket cricket career had ended. He also enjoyed success as a badminton player and as an accomplished golfer.

His daughter Jeanne Bisgood became an international champion golfer eventually becoming president of the Parkstone Golf Club just as her father and done.

Bertie Bisgood died in Branksome, Dorset on the 19th July 1968 at the age of 87 but his place in the record books of Somerset County Cricket Club are assured.