George Gunn

GEORGE GUNN, the best of Notts batsmen at the present time, was born on June 13, 1879. Considering that his uncle and brother were in the eleven, he was rather late in getting a trial for the Notts, playing first for the county in 1902. There was nothing of the prodigy about him, but from the start of his career he played in such good style and showed such powers of defence that his ultimate success was almost taken for granted. He steadily improved, but in the season of 1906, when he was playing uncommonly well, severe illness stopped his cricket. Towards the end of July in that year he had an attack of hemorrhage of the lungs, and had to give up the game for the rest of the season. Happily there was no organic disease, and a winter in New Zealand did him so much good that in 1907 he had a big share in winning the Championship for Notts, coming out at the top of the averages. Still, though his health was to a large extent re-established, it was thought best that he should spend the next winter in Australia. He was not picked for the team sent out by the M.C.C., but it was arranged that his services should, if necessary, be at A. O. Jones's command. This, as it happened, proved the turning point in his career. He took no part in the early fixtures of the tour but, A. O. Jones being then very ill in hospital in Brisbane, he was called upon to play at Sydney in the first Test Match. It was not his good fortune to be on the winning side, England losing a wonderful game by two wickets, but he made his name once and for all as a Test match batsman in Australia. He scored 119 and 74, earning unstinted praise from all the critics. After this brilliant success he played for the English team for the rest of the tour. In the fifth Test match, also at Sydney, he scored 122 not out, and for the whole trip he came out first in batting averaging 51 with an aggregate of 831 runs. Visiting Australia a second time in the winter of 1911-12, he was again seen to great advantage. Apart from an innings of 106 against South Australia at Adelaide he did nothing exceptional, but so consistent was his batting that, with 57 as his highest score, he had an average in the five Test matches of 42. It is the misfortune of George Gunn's life that though emphatically a Test match batsman in Australia, he has failed to earn the same distinction at home. His appearance for England in the disastrous match at Lord's against the Australians in 1909 was a sad failure. His selection, on his form at the time, was a mistake, and, to make matters worse, he did not think he ought to have been chosen. Playing without anything like his usual nerve, he was leg-before-wicket to Cotter's bowling for a single in the first innings, and bowled by Armstrong without a run in the second. As the result of that double failure he has never since been picked for England in this country. So great is his reputation in Australia, however, that the absence of his name from the England team in the first match of the Triangular Tournament in 1912 caused astonishment in Sydney and Melbourne. When at his best George Gunn is a delightful bat to watch, but he carries to an extreme the practice of getting right in front of the wicket, often playing fast as well as medium pace and slow bowlers in this fashion. His easy style and quickness in judging the length of a ball suggest that, as a boy at Trent Bridge, he studied Arthur Shrewsbury's methods very carefully. No one at the present day in playing back seems to have more time to spare.

© John Wisden & Co