JR Mason

MR. J. R. MASON, who was born on the 26th March 1874, is beyond all question the finest batsman turned out in our time by Winchester College. To say this involves no disparagement to Mr. John Shuter who, great as was his subsequent fame in the Surrey eleven, did not while at school enjoy a reputation at all comparable to Mason's. In 1892, it became known that Winchester possessed a young batsman of exceptional skill. Mr. Mason had played in the School eleven in the two previous years, but it was in 1892 that his cricket began to be generally talked about. His record for the school in that year was brilliant in the extreme. He headed the batting with an aggregate of 777 runs and an average of 48, and took 48 wickets for a little over eighteen runs each. His great triumph was gained in the match against Eton, in which he scored 147 and 71, and took eight wickets for 139 runs. H. D. G. Leveson-Gower scored 16 and 83, and took eight wickets as a cost of only 33 runs, the two young cricketers with very little assistance gaining Winchester a brilliant victory. Mr. Mason finished his Winchester career in 1893, and though he had not this time the satisfaction of being on the winning side against Eton he again had a splendid record, averaging 55 with an aggregate of 719 runs, and taking 45 wickets for just over 16½ runs each. Leaving Winchester at the end of the summer term, he was promptly tried for Kent, playing in half-a-dozen county matches and appearing against the Australians at Canterbury. He did not do very much against the Australians, scoring only 14 and 18, but he had the gratification of seeing Kent win a really wonderful game by 36 runs. Of what he has done in the cricket field since then it is hardly necessary in Wisden to speak in detail. Always available for the county, he has in every season been one of the great cricketers of the eleven though it must be admitted that in 1894 his batting fell a good deal short of expectation. In that year too his reputation suffered from the fact of his failing for the Gentlemen both at the Oval and Lord's. In 1895 he stood to Alec Hearne in the Kent batting in county matches with an average of 26, and in 1896 he was easily first among those who played all through the season, scoring 1,117 runs with an average of 37. During the past season he again did splendid work for his county and with a fine innings at Lord's made some amends for his previous ill-success for the Gentlemen. Great satisfaction was expressed when, during the Canterbury week it transpired that he had been offered and had accepted a place in Mr. Stoddart's Team for Australia. While these pages were passing through the press he was doing brilliant things on Australian grounds, his chief success being a not out innings of 128 against Victoria at Melbourne. Just at the same time it was announced at the annual meeting of the Kent County Club that he had agreed to captain the Kent eleven in 1898, Mr. Frank Marchant having resigned the leadership. The news is most welcome, inasmuch as it gives assurance that Mr. Mason intends to go on playing first-class cricket. Though he ranks so high among the leading cricketers of the day it is by no means likely that we have yet seen him at his best. Playing very straight, and making good use of his great height, there are few batsmen now before the public better worth looking at. His driving is superb in its cleanness and power. He is essentially a forward player, but unlike a good many batsmen of the same school, he can get runs on bad wickets, a fact of which the Surrey eleven at Catford in 1896 and the Gloucestershire and Somerset elevens in the past season received conclusive evidence. Over and above his batting he is a very fair slow bowler and one of the best slips in England. Mr. Mason is one of a family of cricketers, his six brothers being all devoted to the game.

© John Wisden & Co