John Richard Mason
March 26, 1874, Blackheath, Kent
October 15, 1958, Cooden Beach, Sussex, (aged 84y 203d)
Right hand bat
Right arm fast medium
John Richard Mason was one of the finest amateur allrounders to play for Kent since the days of Alfred Mynn. Yet he never appeared for England against Australia in a home Test match. As one of A. E. Stoddart's second team who toured Australia, he took part in all five Test matches in 1897-98, but in England his nearest approach to a cap came in 1902 when he was one of fourteen from whom the final selection for the Birmingham Test was made. Still, he ranked as a very great player. Well over six feet, Mason made full use of his height and played with so straight a bat that he was always worth watching.
Essentially a forward player, possessing a drive scarcely surpassed for cleanness and power and a most effective cut, he could also bat to good purpose on slow turf, as many leading bowlers of his time found to their cost. In addition he was a right-arm fast-medium bowler of considerable skill and few excelled him as a slip-fielder.
Educated at Winchester, Mason showed even in his schooldays that he would take high rank in the cricket world. Against Eton in 1892 he scored 147 and 71, dismissed eight batsmen and brought off three catches, and in the corresponding fixture the following season he hit 43 and 36 and again took eight wickets. His record for the school in 1892 was 777 runs, average 48, and 48 wickets for 18 runs each; in 1893 his aggregate was 719, average 55, and he obtained 45 wickets for under 17 runs apiece.
In the same summer that he left Winchester, he was tried for Kent and figured in the game in 1893 when the county defeated the Australians by 36 runs. He failed to realise expectations in 1894, but the next summer jumped to the front and for several seasons afterwards rendered splendid all-round service. He succeeded Frank Marchant as Kent captain in 1898 and not only held that office with distinction for five years, but would doubtless have continued to lead the side for far longer had not the calls of his profession as a solicitor compelled his resignation. So heavy were the claims upon his time that he played no first-class cricket after 1906.
If comparatively brief, his career was brilliant. For Kent in 1900 he scored 1,662 runs, average 53, and took 78 wickets, average 19; the following year he made 1,467 runs, average 39, and secured 92 wickets, average 20. Altogether he hit 13,363 runs for the county, average 33, and obtained 675 wickets at a cost of 21 runs each. His highest innings were 183 v. Somerset at Blackheath and 181 not out v. Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, where he and Alec Hearne (162 not out) shared in a third-wicket partnership of 321. Against Surrey at The Oval in 1900, he scored 98 and 147, and four years later hit three successive centuries--138 v. Yorkshire, 126 v. Somerset and 123 v. Essex. He appeared for Gentlemen v. Players in 1894 and 1895 and from 1897 to 1902. In the Lord's match of 1899 he and W. G. Grace put on 130. The Doctor, then 51 years old, hit 78 and appeared set for his hundred when, called for a short run, he lost his wicket, Mason forgetting for the moment his partner's age and weight! Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
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