Ken Cranston 1917-2007

England's oldest surviving Test cricketer dies

Martin Williamson

January 9, 2007

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Ken Cranston: led England in one game © Lancashire CCC
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Ken Cranston, who captained England once in 1947-48, has died at the age of 89. He became England's oldest living Test cricketer on the death of Mandy Mitchell-Innes on December 28. That mantle now passes to Surrey's Arthur McIntyre.

A tall and lithe allrounder - he bowled fast-medium batted in the middle order - Cranston's first-class career was limited to two seasons immediately after the war during which time he quickly established a reputation as one of the country's leading bowlers, being able to move the ball into the right hand off the seam or away in the air. He originally made his name in wartime games for the Royal Navy and Combined Services, but it was not until 1947 that he made his debut for Lancashire as their captain.

He took 84 wickets and scored 1228 runs in that season, making the first of his eight Test appearances, against South Africa, barely two months after his first-class debut. In his second Test at Headingley he gabbed four wickets in one over and won a place on that winter's tour of the Caribbean.

England, under the veteran Gubby Allen, were a virtual B side, and Cranston was pressed into leading them in the opening Test when Allen injured himself on the boat trip out. He struggled for any form on a gruelling trip and lost his place when the side returned home.



Cranston tosses with West Indies captain George Headley ahead of the Guyana Test in January 1948 © Cricinfo
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He continued his excellent form for Lancashire in 1948, and was recalled for the Headingley Test against Don Bradman's Invincibles but failed to impress and was immediately dropped. He retired at the end of the summer to resume full-time work at his dental practice in Liverpool, as had always been his intention.

After retiring he continued to play for Neston in The Liverpool and District Competition, and in 1950 made a rare first-class appearance at the Scarborough Fesitval where he cracked a career-best 156 for MCC against Yorkshire.

In all he made 3099 runs at 34.92 and took 179 wickets at 27.84. In Tests he took 18 wickets at 25.61 and made 209 runs at 14.92.

He maintained strong links with Lancashire and was their president in 1993-94. He was also president of the county's Former Players' Association.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo

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Martin Williamson Executive editor Martin Williamson joined the Wisden website in its planning stages in 2001 after failing to make his millions in the internet boom when managing editor of Sportal. Before that he was in charge of Sky Sports Online and helped launch and run Sky News Online. With a preference for all things old (except his wife and children), he has recently confounded colleagues by displaying an uncharacteristic fondness for Twenty20 cricket. His enthusiasm for the game is sadly not matched by his ability, but he remains convinced that he might be a late developer and perseveres in the hope of an England call-up with his middle-order batting and non-spinning offbreaks. He is now managing editor of ESPN EMEA Digital Group as well as his Cricinfo responsibilities.
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