Full name John Cecil Masterman
Born January 12, 1891, Kingston Hill, Surrey
Died June 6, 1977, Oxford (aged 86 years 145 days)
Major teams Free Foresters, HDG Leveson-Gower's XI
Batting style Left-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm medium
Education Oxford University
|First-class span||1926 - 1930|
THE death of Sir John Masterman in June at the age of 86 removes a personification of the scholar-sportsman almost without compare. When again will Worcester College have a provost or the University of Oxford a vice-chancellor who combined the qualities of a distinguished teacher of history with first-class skill at six sports? Not indeed that JC's achievements ended there, for as deputy-chief of MI5 in the Second World War he was a key figure in `turning' the entire German spy network in the UK to serve British ends. He was an author of distinction also, and, in his old age, personnel adviser to an industrial combine.
He played lawn tennis and hockey for England, won a Blue for athletics, and was around scratch at golf and a formidable adversary on the squash court. As for his cricket, after winning no sort of trial during his Oxford years, he persevered to the extent of being elected a Harlequin in his thirties and at the age of 46 acquitting himself with credit as a member of G. C. Newman's MCC side to Canada. He had been there before, in 1923 with the Free Foresters, on which club he had a long and beneficent influence. In his autobiography, On the Chariot Wheel, he wrote, "I hope I put back into the Free Foresters something to compensate for all that I had had from the club - for I was on the committee for 31 years and the record shows that I proposed or seconded 177 candidates". He did not rate I Zingari so highly in his days on the IZ committee but hastens to add that nowadays "it has regained all its old prestige and panache".
There must be many who still recall JC's rather stuttering, spidery approach to the wicket, all angles and concentration, his dogged left-hand batting, fine slip fielding, and the rare sense of companionship he instilled in whatever sporting company he found himself.
EW Swanton, The Cricketer
MASTERMAN, SIR JOHN CECIL, sometime Provost of Worcester and Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, died in an Oxford nursing home on June 6, aged 86. A man of distinction in many walks of life, he was a remarkable games player, who had played hockey and lawn tennis for England, won the high jump in the University sports and reached a high standard at cricket, golf and squash. Cricket, he wrote, was my first and most enduring passion and, though never near a blue at Oxford, he became a formidable club player, good enough to be elected a Harlequin many years after he went down and to play for both Harlequins and Free Foresters against the University, to do valuable work for Oxfordshire from 1922 to 1925 and to be a member of the M.C.C. side to Canada in 1937. He was a sound left-handed bat and, being a good fighter, one whom one was always glad to have on one's side when things were not going well, and a right-hand medium pace bowler with a rather low and clumsy action, but very steady and reliable. For many years he was on the committee of both I Zingari and Free Foresters. He enjoyed writing on the game and did so delightfully, but a busy life left him little time for this. His novel, Fate Cannot Harm Me, contains one of the best descriptions extant of a country house match and there is an interesting chapter on cricket in his autobiography, On the Chariot Wheel. Besides these there is a sketch of W. E. W. Collins in Bits and Pieces and a fascinating article contributed to Blackwood in June 1974 on that remarkable character, Captain E. G. Wynyard.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack