January 09, 1859, Bordesley, Birmingham, Warwickshire
December 10, 1904, Bristol, (aged 45y 336d)
Left hand bat
Left arm bowler
There have been many one-Test wonders in the history of English cricket, and it would be pardonable to assume that James Cranston was discarded after his one appearance based on an unimpressive top score of 16. In fact, Cranston played a vital role in England winning the 1890 Test series against Australia. Brought into the team at the last minute for the final Test at The Oval, he played two important innings in a low-scoring match. Wisden said that "his defence under very trying conditions against the bowling of Turner and Ferris was masterly". England needed just 95 to win in the final innings, but the scoreboard read 34 for 4 when Cranston came in to accompany Read. When he was dismissed, England needed just 12, which they made with the loss of four more wickets.
Cranston first played for Gloucestershire in 1876 at the age of 17, and was noted for his superb fielding as well as his solid left-hand batting. He played with an immaculately straight bat, had an excellent defence and was a strong driver. He left Gloucestershire in 1883 and played a few games for Worcestershire (1885) and Warwickshire (1886-87) before either county was awarded first-class status. He returned to Gloucestershire in 1889. His fielding had declined, in part due to his increasing weight (not necessarily an impediment in a county side that was led by WG), but his batting had improved to the extent that he was considered one of the best left-handers in England. In 1890, there was little between him and Grace in average and aggregate, and he recorded his highest score of 152. His career came to an unfortunate end when he suffered a fit on the field of play in 1891. He recovered sufficiently to play four more times for Gloucestershire eight years later, but never achieved the success of 1889 and 1890.
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