Bransby Beauchamp Cooper
March 15, 1844, Dacca, India
August 07, 1914, Geelong, Victoria, (aged 70y 145d)
Right hand bat
Bransby Cooper was a public-school educated product of the English establishment who played for Kent and Middlesex as a hard-hitting right-hand bat, and late in 1869 moved to Australia (with a short stay in the USA) and represented Australia in the first Test in 1876-77.
Bransby Cooper will be remembered by old cricketers as one of the long line of famous Rugby batsmen that began, perhaps, with C.G. Wynch and culminated in William Yardley. He was in the Rugby eleven in 1860-1861, among his contemporaries being F. R. Evans, C. Booth, S. Linton, M. T. Martin, and E. Rutter. Mr. Cooper made his first appearance at Lord's for Rugby against the M. C. C. on June 27, 1860. On the two following days he was on the winning side against Marlborough, scoring 33 in an innings of 152. After leaving Rugby he did not go to Oxford or Cambridge, but he soon became a prominent figure in first-class cricket, playing for Middlesex from 1864 to 1867 inclusive, and for Kent in a few matches in 1868 and 1869. It is worthy of mention that he took part in 1864 in the first match played by the then recently-formed Middlesex County Club. His fame as a batsman in England rests, however, on what he did in representative matches. In 1865 he was picked for the Gentlemen at Lord's and played a very fine innings of 70 against the bowling of Grundy, Wootton, Alfred Shaw, Hayward, and George Bennett. The match was in two respects memorable. W. G. Grace, then just under seventeen, was, like Cooper, making his first appearance in the match, and the Gentlemen, who had a splendid team, gained their first victory over the Players since 1853, winning by eight wickets. The survivors of the match, now that Mr. Cooper has gone, are W. G. Grace, R. D. Walker, Lord Cobham (then the Hon. C. G. Lyttelton), F. R. Evans, and W. F. Maitland among the Gentlemen, and George Wootton alone among the Players. Mr. Cooper reached his highest point in 1869 when he was associated with W. G. Grace in two notable achievements at the Oval. In the Gentlemen and Players match the two batsmen scored 105 together for the first wicket in the second innings, Cooper making 40 and W.G. 83. Three weeks later, for the Gentlemen of the South against the Players of the South, they set up a record which remained unbeaten for twenty-three years. Going in against a total of 475 by the Players they scored 283 for the first wicket in three hours and forty minutes. W. G. made 180 and Cooper 101, both being caught and bowled by Tom Mantle who, tried for the first time, got the two wickets in six balls. Towards the end of July 1869, the two batsmen took part in a North and South match at Sheffield. W. G. Grace played a great innings of 122, out of a total of 173, against George Freeman--then at his very best--the only other double figure score in the innings being Cooper's 23. The record of 283 for the first wicket was first beaten in a big match when, in 1892, H. T. Hewett and L. C. H. Palairet sent up 346 for Somerset against Yorkshire, at Taunton.
Mr. Cooper left England soon after the season of 1869 and, after a short stay in the United States, settled down in Australia where he spent the rest of his life. He at once took a leading part in Australian cricket, playing for Victoria for several years in the matches with New South Wales. As regards his Australian career, two facts stand out above all others. On December 26, 27, and 29, 1873, he played for Eighteen of Victoria against W. G. Grace's England eleven, and scored 84 out of a total of 266. It was the first match of the Englishmen's tour and the Eighteen won by an innings and 21 runs. A little more than three years later--in March, 1877--Mr. Cooper took part at Melbourne in the first match in which Australians met English cricketers on even terms. Australia beat James Lillywhite's England team by 45 runs, Charles Bannerman's memorable innings of 165 and Tom Kendall's splendid bowling bringing about the unexpected result. Mr. Cooper scored 15 and 3, being bowled by Southerton in the first innings and Alfred Shaw in the second. Mr. Cooper who, like most of the amateur batsmen of his day, played in very attractive style, had no lack of hitting power, but patience and sound defence were his great assets. He was a fairly good wicketkeeper without approaching the front rank.
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