John Hearne

John Thomas Hearne, whose bowling proved of such extraordinary value to Middlesex during 1891, is a nephew of the veterans Thomas and George Hearne, and, consequently, a cousin of the well-known Kent players. By birth he belongs to the county of Buckinghamshire, having been born on the 3rd of May, 1867, at Chalfont St. Giles. He took to cricket as a boy, but of his doings in those early days we have, unfortunately, no record. In the season of 1887 he obtained an engagement at Evelvns School, Hollington, and a year later came his introduction to Middlesex cricket. He played first for the Colts of Middlesex against the M. C. C. in 1888, and bowled with considerable success, taking one wicket for three runs in the first innings and three wickets for 17 in the second. On the strength of this performance, he was tried against the Australians, when, in a match of small scores, he took two wickets for 19 runs. Apparently, however, the Middlesex authorities had little idea of the ability that was in him, for he was not given a place in the team in any of the purely county engagements. In 1890, however, he played in eleven out of the twelve county matches, and though his average for thirty-five wickets was rather high-22.4- it was generally thought that a bowler of considerable promise had been discovered. For all that, however, we doubt if any one connected with Middlesex cricket was prepared for the immense improvement he manifested in 1891. Against Yorkshire, at Lord's, on the 4th and 5th of June, he took fourteen wickets for 65 runs, and from that time forward he met with nothing but success. His record for Middlesex in fourteen county matches was 118 wickets at a cost of 10.39 per wicket; and in the bowling averages in first-class matches he had the great distinction of coming out absolutely first, taking 129 wickets, and, by a fraction, beating Lohmann on the average. To a player who has done so much in a short time a brilliant career should be merely a question of health. He has everything in his favour, and certainly, since the days of George Howitt, Middlesex have had no bowler who could for a moment be compared to him. He is a pupil of the school of which Spofforth was the master-a high delivery, an off-break, and good variety of pace being the characteristics of his method. He has proved his excellence on all sorts of wickets, and nearly all the leading batsmen to whom he was opposed last season were loud in his praise. He is a very good field, and though he has not yet done much in batting, it is likely enough that in that department of the game he will improve with experience. For the present, however, it is a sufficient distinction for him that he has supplied the need of a first-class bowler from which the Middlesex eleven had been suffering for nearly twenty years.

© John Wisden & Co