Obituary

George Brown

BROWN, GEORGE, who died in hospital at Winchester on December 3, aged 77, was a great professional all-rounder for Hampshire between 1909 and 1933 -- an all-rounder in the truest sense, for he was not only a top-class left-handed batsman and medium-paced right-arm bowler, but a wicket-keeper good enough to play for England and a splendid, fearless fieldsman close to the bat. He was cremated and, at his own wish, his ashes were scattered over the County Ground at Southampton.

Born at Cowley, near Oxford, he formed, with J. Newman and A. S. Kennedy, a batting and bowling backbone for Hampshire for many years. During his career, he hit 25,649 runs, average 26.71, and took 629 wickets at 29.73 runs each. As wicket-keeper, he held 485 catches and brought off 50 stumpings for his county alone. He played behind the stumps in seven Test matches for England, first when, to strengthen the run-getting, he was called upon to replace H. Strudwick in 1921 for the last three Tests with Australia -- a decision by the selectors which aroused much controversy. In five innings against Warwick Armstrong's men he did much to justify his choice by scoring 250 runs. Under the captaincy of F. T. Mann, he played four times against South Africa in South Africa in 1922-23 and was selected for the final Test with Australia in 1926, but withdrew because of a damaged thumb. He also toured the West Indies in 1909-10 and India in 1926-27 and assisted Players against Gentlemen nine times from 1919 to 1930.

Tall and of fine physique, Brown was an aggressive batsman who could when the situation demanded fill a defensive role with equal skill. He shared in a three-figure stand for every Hampshire wicket except the sixth and three of them still stand as county records: 321 for the second wicket with E. I. M. Barrett against Gloucestershire at Southampton in 1920; 344 for the third with C. P. Mead v. Yorkshire at Portsmouth in 1927, and 325 for the seventh with C. H. Abercrombie v. Essex at Leyton in 1913.

Twice, against Middlesex at Bournemouth in 1926 and Surrey at the Oval in 1933, he carried his bat through an innings. Of his 37 centuries, the highest was 232 not out from the Yorkshire bowling at Leeds in 1920 and he exceeded 200 on two other occasions; but the display for which he will always be remembered was that at Edgbaston in 1922. Dismissed for 15, the smallest total in their first-class history, Hampshire followed-on 208 behind and seemed destined to humiliating defeat when they lost six men for 186. Then Brown played magnificently for 172 and a maiden century by W. H. Livsey helped the total to 521. Kennedy and Newman followed by dismissing Warwickshire for 158, carrying their side to a famous victory by 155 runs -- a feat which brought considerable financial benefit to that intrepid Hampshire captain, the Hon. L. H. Tennyson, who, after the first-innings debacle, had accepted numerous bets at long odds!

Brown's best season was that of 1926 when, with the aid of six centuries, he reached an aggregate of 2,040 and an average of 40.00. Among his best bowling analyses were six wickets for 24 runs against Somerset at Bath and six for 48 against Yorkshire at Portsmouth, both in 1911. After his playing career ended he served for three seasons as a first-class umpire.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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