Obituary

John Read

ESPNcricinfo staff

READ, JOHN MAURICE, nephew of the famous H.H. Stephenson, was born at Thames Ditton on February 9, 1859, and died in Winchester Hospital, after a long illness, on February 17, aged 70. During his career, which extended from 1880 to 1895, he ranked among the best professional players and obtained all the chief honours which the cricket field had to offer. He earned his place in the Surrey eleven when first tried, and maintained his form to the end of his career for, in order to take an appointment on the Tichborne estate, he retired after a season in which he made 1,031 runs with an average of 31.

Always an enterprising player, Maurice Read had some unorthodox strokes, but these were natural to a forcing batsman of his style. He hit the ball hard in defence and could cut and keep down his off-drive with masterly ease. A rather fast bowler, he occasionally did useful work with the ball before George Lehmann and Jack Beaumont, under John Shifter's captaincy, made Surrey tremendously strong. In the deep field and at third man he was brilliant, having remarkably sure hands in picking up and catching, besides being quick in getting to the ball.

He first played for England at the Oval in 1882, when Spofforth's bowling won Australia the sensational victory by 7 runs. He was still in England's best side in 1890, when he appeared in the Test matches at the Oval and Lord's, the Manchester fixture owing to rain being abandoned without a ball bowled ; and he also played at Lord's in 1893. He took a large share in winning the 1890 match at the Oval, when the Surrey authorities could not get together a fully representative eleven. On a bowler's pitch Australia were dismissed for 92 and 102, so England, after getting 100, wanted 95 to win. W. G. Grace, Shrewsbury, W. Gunn, and W. W. Read fell before Turner and Ferris for 32 runs, but Maurice Read who made 35, and James Cranston, the left-handed Gloucestershire amateur, took the score to 83. Yet eight men were out for 93, and the finish was dramatic. After five maiden overs had been sent down, Sharpe, the Surrey bowler, hit a ball to Dr. Barrett at cover point, and Gregor MacGregor, responding to the call, both batsmen were in the middle of the pitch when Dr. Barrett returned so wide that the two runs needed for victory were scored.

Maurice Read went to Australia four times--in the winters of 1884, 1886, 1887, and 1891--taking part in eleven Test matches. His last trip was with Lord Sheffield's team captained by W. G. Grace. The Test match at the Oval in 1893 was played for Maurice Road's benefit. In all matches, first-class and second-class, for the county he made 13,058 runs with an average of 26 and took seventy-eight wickets for 22 runs each. For the Players, between 1882 and 1895, he scored 546 runs (average 22), in Test matches v. Australia 447 (average 18), and in all first-class cricket 14,010 (average 27). After his retirement from great matches he kept up the game in Hampshire, but, although qualified to do so by residence, never appeared for that county. In several seasons he averaged over 100 runs an innings for Tichborne Park. Among the many large scores he obtained for that side were 202 v. Incogniti in 1897, 256 v. Cheriton in 1900, 216 v. Incogniti the same season, and 245 not out v. Royal Navy in 1901.

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