Obituary

Fred Durston

DURSTON, FREDERICK JOHN, who died in hospital at Southall on April 8, aged 71, played as a fast bowler for Middlesex from 1919 to 1933. In all first-class cricket, he dismissed 1,334 batsmen for 21.94 runs apiece, scored 3,551 runs at an average of 12.16 and held 227 catches. Born at the village of Clophill, Bedfordshire, he learned his cricket with the local club before becoming, like so many illustrious cricketers, a ground-staff boy at Lord's in 1914. Tall and powerfully built, "Jack" Durston showed greater control of length as his career progressed and he took many wickets on the hard pitches at Lord's with a speedy break-back. He helped Middlesex win the County Championship in 1920 and 1921 after service In the Royal Engineers during the First World War.

In 1919, his first year in the county side, his success was limited to five wickets, in five matches, and those at 74.20 runs each. Yet in each of the next two seasons his victims exceeded 100. As Wisden of the time recorded, "he improved out of knowledge". His performance in taking seven wickets for 84 in the first innings and four for 65 in the second for Middlesex against Warwick Armstrong's Australians in 1921 helped to gain him a place for England in the second Test match at Lord's: but though he disposed of five men in the match for 136, he was never again chosen. Still, he toured the Argentine with Julien Cahn's team in 1929 and again with Sir Theodore Brinckman's side in 1937-38. His best season was that of 1921 when he took 136 wickets, average 19.50, and made his one appearance for the Players against the Gentlemen at Lord's.

Six times he took over 100 wickets in a season and twice he performed the "hat-trick"--against Cambridge University at Fenner's in 1922, when obtaining six wickets for 29, and against Oxford University at Oxford the following season, when his second innings analysis was eight for 27. Of negligible value for a long time, his batting steadily improved. In 1927 he and E. Hendren (201 not out) set up a Middlesex record which still stands, punishing the Essex bowling for 160 in eighty minutes. Durston's highest innings was 92 not out against Northamptonshire at Lord's in 1930 which followed 51 in the first innings.

In his younger days he was a goal-keeper of ability, playing for Brentford F.C.

© John Wisden & Co