John Hearne

JOHN WILLIAM HEARNE was born at Harlington, Middlesex, on February 11th, 1891. Except F. R. Foster himself, no young English cricketer in recent years has come so rapidly to the front. The veteran Middlesex bowler, George Burton, who naturally takes a keen interest in the new star, tells me that Hearne first went to Lord's as a ground boy in 1906, and was employed on the extra staff two years later. Nominated by Middlesex, he was engaged on the regular staff of the M.C.C. in 1910. He practically learnt his cricket as a member of the Cross Arrows Club, which body he joined during his first year at Lord's. He soon found a place in the Middlesex second eleven, and in 1909 he was given his first trial for the county, playing in eight of the matches. A lad of little more than 18, and quite new to first-class cricket, he did not do much to suggest the success that was in store for him, but he took ten wickets, and though most of his scores were very small he played an innings of 71 against Somerset at Taunton. In 1910 he made a great advance, and convinced the Middlesex authorities that they had found a prize. Twice he scored over a hundred - against Somerset at Lord's and Sussex at Eastbourne - and though his bowling figures - forty-eight wickets for something under 25 runs a piece - did not look much on paper, he had some days of startling success. Against Essex at Lord's in August he bowled after lunch five overs and a ball for two runs and seven wickets, and later in the month against Hampshire on the same ground he took eight wickets for 90 runs. In both these matches he bowled leg-breaks with a wonderfully quick spin off the pitch, and also showed that he had acquired some power over the googly. When the season was over he went to the West Indies with a very weak team got together for the trip, but perhaps it would have been better if he had stayed at home, the climate being scarcely calculated to give him the physical strength that he needed. At any rate, it took him some time last summer to find his form as a bowler, his length in the early matches being very uncertain. However, he soon asserted himself, both as bowler and batsman, and enjoyed a brilliant season. As in 1910, the Essex batsmen at Lord's felt the full force of his spin, and in both matches with Surrey he was so deadly that Hayward afterwards described him as the most difficult of the googly bowlers he had met. At first there was a difficulty about Hearne going to Australia. Some members of the Middlesex committee thought he was too young for such a heavy tour, but in the end they yielded to Mr. Warner's urgent request that he might be allowed to join the team. Up to the time I write he has done nothing as a bowler in Australia, but as a batsman he has met with wonderful success, making scores in the first two Test Matches of 79, 43, and 114. As he has done so much before completing his twenty-first year, Hearne's future as a cricketer, given a continuance of good health, seems assured. He is obviously a player of great gifts. As a batsman he plays perfectly straight and, as Mr. Warner said in Wisden last year, is free from any serious defects of method. His special merit as a bowler lies in the fact that while able to combine the googly with his leg-break without any very perceptible change of action, he makes the ball come off the pitch at a surprising pace.

© John Wisden & Co