Obituary

John Hearne

HEARNE, JOHN WILLIAM, who died on September 13, aged 74, rendered admirable service as a professional for Middlesex from 1909 to 1936 and took part in 24 Test matches for England between 1912 and 1926. Joining the Lord's staff as a ground-boy in 1906, he became one of England's greatest all-rounders. In his early days he drove hard and though ill-health impaired his ability in that direction, his impeccable style and artistry in placing the ball, combined with sound defence, in which he employed a remarkably straight bat, brought him many runs. At his best on difficult pitches, he altogether scored 37,252 runs in first-class cricket, average 40.98, including 96 centuries; with skilfully-controlled leg-break and googly bowling from what surely must have been the shortest of runs-up, he took 1,839 wickets for 24.42 runs each and he held 329 catches.

"Young Jack", as he was known, was a cousin of J. T. Hearne, also of Middlesex and England fame. He received his first trial for the county in 1909, when he created a highly favourable impression with an innings of 71 against Somerset at Taunton. The following summer he hit two centuries and occasionally bowled with marked success, as against Essex at Lord's where he distinguished himself by disposing of seven men in just over five overs for two runs. Thenceforward, Hearne was an established cricketer in the world of cricket and undoubtedly one of the most immaculately attired. Five times he achieved the "cricketer's double" of 1,000 runs and 100 wickets--in 1911, 1913, 1914, 1920 and 1923--the most successful being that of 1920 when he hit 2,148 runs and dismissed 148 batsmen: in 19 seasons his aggregate runs exceeded 1,000 and four times he passed 2,000. His highest innings was 234 not out against Somerset at Lord's and on ten other occasions he put together scores of more than 200, two of them in 1912. From the Glamorgan bowling at Lord's in 1931, he reached three-figures twice in the match. Often in company with his great friend and ally on the field, "Patsy" Hendren, who in their day formed the highly valuable combination for Middlesex that D. C. S. Compton and W. J. Edrich were in later years to become, Hearne shared in many a big stand. The largest between him and Hendren was 375 for the third wicket against Hampshire at Southampton in 1923 and 325 against the same opposition at Lord's in 1919. For the second wicket, Hearne and F. A. Tarrant added 380 against Lancashire at Lord's.

Hearne began his long Test career in 1911-12, P. F. Warner successfully pressing his claims when some members of the Middlesex Committee considered him too young for so arduous a trip. In that tour he hit his only Test century, 114 at Melbourne, where he and Wilfred Rhodes joined in a second-wicket stand of 127. In the same tour Hearne and Frank Woolley put on 264 for the third M.C.C. wicket against Tasmania at Hobart. Illness prevented him from playing in all but the opening Test in Australia in 1920-21. His full Test record was 806 runs, average 26.00, and 30 wickets for 48.73 runs apiece.

For all his comparatively frail physique, Hearne did not flinch from the hardest of hits in the field. At Lord's in 1928, for instance, when L. N. Constantine, with innings of 86 and 103 and a second-innings analysis of seven wickets for 57 runs, did so much towards a sensational victory by three wickets for the West Indies over Middlesex, Hearne Instinctively grabbed at a return of intense ferocity from Constantine with resultant damage to his hand which put him out of the game for the remainder of the season.

Always immensely popular, with his quiet manner and subtle sense of humour, Hearne acted as coach at Lord's for many years after retiring from the field of play. In 1949 he was one of 26 former professional players honoured with life membership by the M.C.C.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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