John Lester


LESTER, JOHN ASHBY, one of the great figures in American cricket, died on September 3. Born at Penrith, Cumberland on August 1, 1872, he thus reached the age of 97. He was playing cricket at Ackworth, Yorkshire, in 1892 when he met Dr. Sharpless, President of Haverford College, who invited him to the United States. Lester captained Haverford on their first overseas tour, scoring 105 against M.C.C. on his first appearance at Lord's. He was the leading batsman of the Gentlemen of Philadelphia on their tour of England in 1897 when they met the first-class counties, scoring 891 runs, average 37.12. He captained the Philadelphians in 1903 and 1908 on their tours to England. His highest score in first-class cricket was 126 not out for Philadelphians v. Leicestershire in 1903.

He is one of the few American cricketers noticed in Scores & Biographies which said: a watchful batsman who could hit well and had plenty of strokes and strong defence. A biography of him appeared in Cricket for July 23, 1903. He kept up his interest in cricket to the end of his life. In 1952 he was the author of A Century of Philadelphia Cricket, the definitive history of the game in that city. In 1966 he was an honoured guest of the American members of the Forty Club at a dinner at Philadelphia. On that occasion he made an interesting speech recalling that youth needs heroes and that his hero was George Lohmann of Surrey... a great cricketer and a great man. In 1969 he made his final public appearance at a cricket function when the C. C. Morris Library was opened at Haverford. He presented the Library with a pair of gold cuff-links given to him by K. S. Ranjitsinhji. Dr. Lester received his Ph.D. for education from Harvard in 1902 and for many years was head of the English Department at the Hill School, Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

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