The late Lord Hawke

Sir Stanley Jackson, Sir Francis Lacey & Hubert Preston


There can be few, if any, whose services to cricket have more deserved acknowledgement and record in the pages of Wisden than the late Lord Hawke. What service he may have rendered to cricket and cricketers was for him a labour of love. He gained his greatest pleasure from playing cricket and doing what he believed to be in the best interests of the game.

For fifty years he was closely associated with the M.C.C. and as a member of the Committee, President and Treasurer, he took an active part in the administration and the consideration of the various problems and controversies which arose from time to time. It is, however, for his long association with Yorkshire County Cricket that Lord Hawke's name will be best remembered. During 57 years in connection with the club, 28 years as captain and 40 years as President, he saw it progress to its present flourishing position.

Lord Hawke will also be remembered far and wide as the leader of those amateur teams which he organised to visit various parts of the Empire. When at Cambridge, he was selected as a regular member of the Yorkshire County XI - in those days a completely professional side including players whose names became famous in cricket history. The Hon. M. B. Hawke, as he was then, was appointed captain of Yorkshire in 1883. He soon realised that such a team of fine natural cricketers, under sympathetic management and firm leadership, would develop into a most formidable and attractive county side.

This happened: public interest and support throughout Yorkshire followed and continued to increase until today the Yorkshire C.C.C. with its fine county side, receives probably, the most generous and loyal support of any in the country. Hawke's initiative, with the co-operation of an enthusiastic and competent committee, laid the foundation of Yorkshire County Cricket upon which the present position has been built.

A personal interest in each individual player and his welfare, which was then begun and lasted to the end, gained for "His Lordship" a respect and loyalty from every member of the team which I think must have been unique.

Leaving a tour in Australia when he succeeded to the title owing to the death of his father, Lord Hawke was captain of a team of amateurs who went to India in 1889. During the next years he took teams to America, New Zealand, India, West Indies, South Africa, Canada and the Argentine. He personally organised each tour from start to finish with remarkable ability and the fact that in all these tours there was not one instance of discord speaks for itself.

Hawke's hope that the visits would help to create enthusiasm for cricket amongst the inhabitants and a desire to play the game and excel at it would appear to have been realised - now four of these countries send teams here and claim matches with our best on equal terms.

It was my good fortune to go to India with Lord Hawke's side in 1892-3. We found Lord Harris as Governor of Bombay and Lord Wenlock Governor of Madras - cricket certainly received every encouragement from them; but I think I am right in saying that the only two Indian sides we met were the Parsees at Bombay and a team at Madras. My later experiences in India left no doubt in my mind that those early visits of Hawke's teams did much to rouse enthusiasm for cricket in India and helped it on its way to a high standard.

In 1928 - thirty-five years later - I had the pleasure of entertaining Lord and Lady Hawke at Government House, Calcutta on going to a cricket match at Eden Gardens on Christmas Day we saw in the pavilion a photograph of Lord Hawke himself. I am told that photographs of Hawke hang in the pavilions of numerous grounds he visited throughout the Empire where he is always respected as a beenfactor.

There are many other reasons why Martin Hawke will be remembered by all who knew him - cricketers and others alike. He was a generous and loyal friend; he had the gift of good-fellowship, which , he maintained, was acquired on the cricket field. An admirable host, he was never more happy than when he and Lady Hawke, a lady of great charm and kindliness, dispensed hospitality to their innumerable friends.

A straightforward and honourable gentleman, he had a long innings, played it well and enjoyed it. He leaves behind a record as creditable to himself as it is an example for others to follow.


Since the history of cricket was first written, there have been chapters in which certain men have been outstanding figures. Another chapter seems to have closed with the death of Lord Hawke, who was certainly one of the most prominent in his day. Besides being a great cricketer in the highest sense of the word, he was an administrator who not only aimed at the general welfare of the game, but sought to preserve it in an untarnished ethical code. To him cricket was more than a game. It was a philosophy that coloured his dealings with people and things. His anxiety that English cricket should not fall below the high standard that he thought it should maintain led him to give expression to the wish that the captain of England should always be an amateur, he gave it as his opinion that a wise selection had been made when the Selection Committee appointed Hammond Captain of England.

His cricket career is a well known matter of history. It may not however, be generally known how the strength of his character was tested when, as a young man on leaving Cambridge, he undertook the responsibility of captaining the Yorkshire side, composed at that time of elements that were not entirely harmonious. Owing to his tact, judgement and integrity, he moulded the Eleven into the best, and probably the most united county cricket team in England. He regarded Yorkshire as his home by adoption and wherever he went he hailed Yorkshiremen as his friends. He always played to win, but whatever the game, he was a generous opponent and never harboured resentment. The writer recollects running him out when Cambridge university were playing Surrey at the Oval - a bad run out - the offence was forgiven but it is doubtful it was forgotten. Through the long and anxious years during the Great War, Lord Hawke was president of the M.C.C. The Ground was being used for Military purposes, training and recreation. Problems frequently arose, and he was the greatest help in giving wise counsel towards their solution. After the War he followed Lord Harris as Treasurer of M.C.C. and only resigned shortly before his death. Like Lord Harris, he was devoted to the M.C.C. and believed that the well-being of creicket depended on the allegiance given to the club by its members, by the county clubs, and by the judicial and impartial adminisitration of its Committee.

Lord Hawke was a member of the I Zingari Committee, and in recent years many of its meetings were held at his house, in Belgrave Sqwuare, where the Committee had the privilege of accepting his hospitality - a great experience. It has been said that candidates for election had a better chance of being selected after luncheon than before.

And so has passed a kind and loyal friend, and one who has contributed much that is valuable to our national game.


When first a Cambridge light blue cap caught my eye it was worn by the Hon. M. B. Hawke fielding for Yorkshire in front of the Oval pavilion. A prominent figure then, with his speed and sure picking-up, he became the dominant personality during many years to those who made frequent journeys to report matches in which Yorkshire were engaged. That was my good fortune when Lord Hawke captained the team which, under his firm, friendly leadership, had already become the strongest of the counties--a position retained with him as president.

Personally, throughout his active career, he experienced all the vicissitudes inseparable from cricket and never seemed to lose the joy of the game as played in the best sporting spirit. Some occurrences come to mind with the vivid memory of a close watcher and reporter of all that happened. One of the strangest was in August 1898 when at Chesterfield, John Brown, of Driffield, and John Tunnicliffe, of Pudsey, scored over 500 on the first day. For some reason Lord Hawke put himself down number three, the place usually given to F. S. Jackson; the captain wore his pads from 12 o'clock until the drawing of stumps and again on the Friday morning until the opening stand ended for 554. Sir Stanley will remember the occasion--not without a chuckle--a reference to the score shows him the best Yorkshire bowler with seven wickets for 78 in two Derbyshire innings.

During the impregnable period from August 1899 to July 1901, when Yorkshire went unbeaten, Hirst, Rhodes and Haigh made a bowling combination perhaps never surpassed on all kinds of pitches. After seeing them supreme very often, it came as an astonishing change to find Hirst toiling in the deep at Headingley, while Somerset ran up a score of 630, and then gain an amazing victory by 279 runs after being 238 behind on the first innings. Lord Hawke was powerless; not one of his bowlers could stop the flow of runs that came from the bats of Lionel Palairet, Len Braund, F. A. Phillips and S. M. J. Woods, whose cogent word Magnum expressed the delighted feelings of Somerset on returning to their hotel victorious over the Champions.

With so many superb players under his command, Lord Hawke could afford to take a risk through this was seldom necessary. The opposition so often fell easy victims that, no doubt, he considered the position quite safe when he declared at Bradford in August 1908 and sent Middlesex in after lunch, wanting 269 to win with two hours forty minutes left for cricket. To everyone's surprise Middlesex went for the runs. James Douglas stood away from the stumps and used the cut or drive in grand style when Hirst bowled inswingers to a packed leg-side field. F. A. Tarrant often ran down the pitch and got the bowlers off their length so that he could drive, pull or cut with impunity. The task was reduced to 51 wanted with twenty minutes remaining. Albert Trott, another Australian of exceptional ability, was the man to do this, but, attempting a run for a stroke to the unguarded off-side, he collided with Newstead, also a heavyweight, dashing across the pitch from short leg. Both men fell; Hirst returned the ball and Trott, to his disgust, was given run out--a doubtful decision after an absolute accident when the batsman was obstructed! Lord Hawke's judgment in the powers of his side at least to avoid defeat proved sound, for Middlesex finished 36 behind with two wickets in hand. Such an afternoon makes the game great.

In 1896 Lord Hawke scored 166 towards the 887 made by Yorkshire at Edgbaston against Warwickshire, the record total for any first-class match in England until the 903 for 7 wickets in the Oval Test last August. He and Robert Peel put on 292--still the highest eighth wicket partnership by English batsmen. The best last wicket stand for Yorkshire was by Lord Hawke and David Hunter, 148 against Kent in 1898.

In another record of a very different kind, Lord Hawke was concerned closely, for he chose F. S. Jackson to open the bowling with George Hirst in the second innings against the Australians at Leeds in 1902 and the total--23--remains the smallest by an Australian side apart from the 18 for which Harry Trott's eleven were sent back by the M.C.C. at Lord's in 1896. the preference for Jackson to start the bowling was the more noteworthy because that distinction usually belonged to Wilfred Rhodes who, four days before, when sharing England's attack with Hirst at Birmingham, had taken seven Australian wickets for 17 runs. Jackson dismissed the last four batsmen in five balls--match record nine wickets for 42 runs.

Thoughtful interest for the general welfare of his players was apparent even in the stern measures which Lord Hawke found necessary to take when he turned out of the side one of the best all-round cricketers of the time. Such strong discipline, exercised for the second time by Lord Hawke, sufficed to curb any player's possible lack of self control in the future.

While Lord Hawke, from 1883 until the time of his passing, became more famous as captain and president than he ever was as a batsman, he played many a fine innings and, late in the batting order, he frequently turned the scale in favour of his side by sound defence and hard clean hitting--notably the powerful off drive for which his height and robust figure were well suited.

He did little in the Eton and Cambridge elevens at Lord's but his three University matches each resulted in victory for his side by seven wickets; curiously enough in 1884, when he stood down, Oxford proved superior to the same extent. This remarkable series of identical margins was continued both in 1887, Oxford winning, and in 1890, Cambridge being successful. Six similar results in the course of nine annual encounters !

For many years Lord Hawke's speeches at the annual general meeting of the Yorkshire County Club contained outspoken comments on current cricket which always commanded attention. At other times his caustic remarks were wrongly construed in some quarters; notably when he expressed the fervent hope that England would never be captained by a Professional. This was not derogatory of the players for whom he had done so much and always held in high esteem, but expressed his strong desire that there would always be a Gentleman good enough a cricketer for the high position as leader of our eleven. No one knew better than did Lord Hawke the heavy responsibilities of captaining a cricket eleven.

© John Wisden & Co