Jack Hobbs worked as an assistant to his father on cricket grounds until he was nineteen. For a game for Royston against Hertfordshire club his fee was 10 shillings to play. Hobbs scored 119.
In 1903 he was contracted by Surrey at 39 shillings a week during summer and £1 in the off-season, during his two-year qualification. In later years he told John Arlott: "I suppose I had a lowly upbringing and I thought cricket was a chance to make some money---I had to earn a living you see---but I always wanted to play cricket, to become a professional, and if I had my time all over again I would do it again. I never wanted to be an amateur, I didn't feel it was in me."
Hobbs scored 18 and 88 in his first match for Surrey in 1905 against the Gentlemen of England captained by WG Grace. Two and a half years later he played for England. His 302 runs at an average of 43.14 was topped only by George Gunn.
On the tour of South Africa in 1909-10, Hobbs' sequence of score was 89, 35, 53, 70, 11, 93 not out, 1, 0 and 187. He finished with 539 runs in the series with an average of 67.37.
Two years later he did even better, aggregating 882 at an average of 82.75. He scored an unbeaten 126 at Melbourne in the second Test and England won by 8 wickets.
At Melbourne in the fourth Test he scored 178 adding 323 with Wilfred Rhodes in 270 minutes. England won by an innings and 225 runs.
(To be continued)