Brigadier-General Robert Poore

ESPNcricinfo staff

POORE, BRIGADIER-GENERAL ROBERT MONTAGU, who during one season was the most prolific scorer in England, died on July 14, aged 72. He used to relate that he did not take seriously to cricket before going to India as a Lieutenant in the 7th Hussars. Then he studied text books on the game while playing in Army matches. From 1892 to 1895 when A.D.C. to lord Harris, then Governor of Bombay, he averaged 80 for Government House. Going to South Africa, better opportunities came for finding his true ability when facing the formidable bowlers under the command of Lord Hawke. He hit up 112 at Pietermaritzburg and at Durban, when fifteen of Natal were set to get 228, he scored 107, being mainly responsible for the local side winning by five wickets; these were the only hundreds scored against the touring team of 1895-96. He also appeared for South Africa in the three Test matches without distinguishing himself more than did some others in badly beaten elevens.

In the course of a few months in Natal he scored 1,600 runs, including nine separate hundreds, so that when returning to England in 1898 at the age of 32, Major Poore was ready for first-class cricket. On a soft wicket at Lord's he scored 51 and helped appreciably in an innings victory for M.C.C over Lancashire. He averaged 34 for eleven Hampshire matches and next season he became the most sensational batsman in the country, his doings being described as phenomenal. Making a late start he scored in two months--June 12 to August 12--1,399 runs for Hampshire with an average of 116.58- Major Poore hit seven centuries, two against Somerset at Portsmouth, and in his next innings another off the Lancashire bowlers at Southampton; he also scored exactly 100 runs in two innings against the Australians- in 21 first-class innings he made 1,551 runs, average 91.23--a figure not exceeded until Herbert Sutcliffe averaged 96.96 in 1931. The return with Somerset at Taunton was specially noteworthy, Major Poore scoring 304 and with Captain E. G. Wynyard (225) adding 411 in four hours twenty minutes--the English record for the sixth wicket.

Chosen for the Gentlemen against the Players at both the Oval and Lord's, Poore did little. Military duty took him back to South Africa before the end of the season, and after occasional appearances his county cricket ceased in 1906, but so well did he retain his form and activity that in 1923, when 57 years old, he hit three consecutive centuries during a tour of M.C.C. in the West Country. His 304 stood as a Hampshire record for 38 years, being surpassed in 1937 by R. H. Moore with 316 against Warwickshire at Bournemouth.

Six feet four inches in height, of massive frame with powerful limbs, Major Poore when at the top of his form used his long reach with great effect in driving, his strokes between the bowler and cover point going with such speed over the turf that fieldsmen, no matter how placed, could not prevent him from scoring freely. Before becoming accustomed to English wickets, he played forward more in defence for smothering the ball than as a hitter, but his drive ripened to one of the most powerful ever known.

A versatile sportsman, Major Poore was one of the finest swordsmen in The Army, taking the highest honours at the Military Tournament. A first-rate Polo player he also twice won the West of India Lawn Tennis Championship, a feat he repeated in Matabeleland and was in his regimental shooting team. His exceptional physical powers were demonstrated in his wonderful 1899 season; during a fortnight in June he played in the winning team of the Inter-Regimental Polo Tournament, won the best-man-at-arms mounted event at the Royal Naval and Military Tournament and scored three consecutive centuries for Hampshire, 104 and 119 not out against Somerset and 111 against Lancashire.

© John Wisden & Co