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The Spin | Cricketer, comic, artist, innovator: ‘Felix’, the ultimate all-rounder

Under a pseudonym, Nicholas Wanostrocht made his mark by inventing bowling machines, protective gloves and more

In late 1860 there was a bit of a squabble in the English clergy provoked by the Bishop of Rochester’s condemnation of some of the unbecoming habits that some clergymen had unfortunately taken up. He took particular umbrage at those guilty of “too great developments of beard and whisker”, and added the desire to “blot out the names of [cricket clubs] as fit for the occupation of clergymen who desire to influence those with whom they mixed”. For a clergyman, playing cricket and “adopting the modern excesses in cultivating the hair”, he said, “showed that they wished to stand on an equality with the fashionable and fast young men of the present day”, which was of course not something that they should have been aiming for.

Though by then he was well into his retirement, this attitude goes some way to explaining why Nicholas Wanostrocht, a former schoolmaster, felt compelled to play the game under the pseudonym Felix. Though the difficulties presented by the ownership of a name such as Wanostrocht probably contributed.

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