Alfred ('Bunny') Lucas

S.H.P.

LUCAS, MR. ALFRED PERRY, died at his home at Great Waltham, on Friday, October 12. Though his career in the cricket field began half a century ago, Mr. Lucas played so long--he captained the M. C. C. at Lord's against the Australian Eleven of 1902, and played his last match for Essex in 1907--that his doings will be fresh in remembrance. He was one of the finest of batsmen--almost unique in his combination of perfect style and impregnable defence. As regards the early development of his powers he belonged to a very select band. Like Mr. R. A. H. Mitchell, Mr. Alfred Lubbock, Mr. C. F. Buller, Mr. A. J. Webbe, and, in later days, Mr. MacLaren and Mr. Spooner, he was good enough while still at school to play for the Gentlemen. One is thinking only of public school batsmen. Mr. W. G. Grace--outside all comparisons--actually played for the Gentlemen at Lord's before he was 17, and had no small share in winning the match. Mr. Lucas did not appear for Gentlemen v. Players as a schoolboy, but he came very near it. In 1874--the year he left Uppingham--he was picked for the Gentlemen of the South against the Players of the North at Prince's, and scored 48 and 23. His form in those two innings--against Alfred Shaw and Morley at their best--left no doubt as to his class. It was felt by all good judges that a new star had been discovered. Mr. Lucas had been most carefully coached at Uppingham by H. H. Stephenson--he was by far the best of all Stephenson's pupils--and throughout his career he never tired of saying how much he owed to his teacher. When he jumped into fame at Prince's, Mr. Lucas was under seventeen and a half; to be quite exact he was born on February 20, 1857. He never looked back. Going up to Clare College, Cambridge, he won his Blue as a Freshman and was in the Eleven four years-- 1875 to 1878. He shared in all the other victories of the great team of 1878, but illness kept him out of the crowning triumph at Lord's against the first Australian Eleven. In his four matches against Oxford he was twice on the winning and twice on the losing side, his own record being wonderfully good. His scores in the four matches were 19 and 5; 67 and not out 23, 54 and 8, 4 and 74. In the Cambridge averages Mr. Lucas was fourth in 1875 with 23, first in 1876 with 50 and first again in 1877 with 33, but in 1878, despite his success in the big match, he dropped to the sixth place, and averaged only 20.

In county cricket Mr. Lucas had a varied experience. He came out in 1874 for Surrey, played some years later for Middlesex, and finally in 1889, with the view of helping his life-long friend, Mr. C. E. Green, threw in his lot with Essex. While in his prime he was chosen, as a matter of course, year after year for Gentlemen v. Players. In these matches he played some of his best cricket, scoring 91 at Lord's in 1878 and 107 in 1882.

For England against Australia he appeared four times--at the Oval in 1880 and 1882 and at Manchester and Lord's in 1884. Possibly he could recall nothing in his career more vividly than the last innings of the disastrous match at the Oval in 1882 when England, after seeming certain of victory, lost by seven runs. He stopped any number of Mr. Spofforth's terrible break-backs, but at last played one of them on to his wicket. The misfortune was that, while showing such superb defence, he could not relieve the tension by a hit to the boundary.

Mr. Lucas was in the truest sense of the word a classic batsman. A master of both back and forward play, he represented the strictest orthodoxy. No doubt if he had allowed himself a little licence he might have made more runs, but his method served him so well that right into middle age he kept up his form. It may fairly be said of him that no defensive batsman of any generation was better worth looking at. He played the ball so hard and his style was so irreproachable that one could watch him for hours without a moment of weariness. Having played against all the great Australian bowlers from Spofforth and Frank Allan to Hugh Trumble, he thought Spofforth and George Palmer the best of them. Mr. Lucas was not much of a traveller, but he went to Australia with Lord Harris's team in 1878-79. During that tour he had to do far more bowling than he had expected, the side being almost wholly dependent on Emmett and George Ulyett. How with such limited resources they ever managed to get their opponents out remains to this day a marvel.

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