Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Leaving on a batting high

Donald Bradman’s final Test innings constitutes one of the greatest stories in cricket folklore, despite the fact that it only lasted two deliveries. As far as his Reliance Mobile ICC Player Ranking was concerned, it dropped him a mere three points from 957 to 954, but his batting average dropped far more significantly from 101.39 to its final resting place of 99.94.

Despite that disappointment, Bradman ended his career at the top of the Batting tree – the same position he had occupied since he dislodged Herbert Sutcliffe from the number one spot in January 1933 – 61 points ahead of Denis Compton in second place. However, another noteworthy achievement was the fact that Bradman ended his Test career ranked top, a feat matched by only one other man in the history of Test cricket.

It is someone equally remarkable who shares this distinction with the greatest batsman who ever lived – Colonel The Honourable Sir Francis Stanley Jackson.

During his time at Harrow School his fag was fellow parliamentarian and future Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and he made his England debut in 1893 while he was still studying at Trinity College, Cambridge. He scored 91 against the Australians at Lord’s and in his next Test later that summer at The Oval, he made 103. He was unable to tour abroad as the months away would have come in the way of his business commitments and so all twenty of his Tests were played on home soil.

The epitome of the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of cricket, it was in 1905 when Jackson was really at the peak of his powers. He won the toss in all five Test Matches against the Australians and scored more runs than any other player on either side with 492 including two centuries and two fifties, topping the averages with 70.28. Not content with that, he also topped the bowling averages with thirteen wickets at an average of just 15.46. Unsurprisingly, England won the series 2-0 and had much the better of the other three drawn games.

He was elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament in 1915, representing Howdenshire in Yorkshire until resigning in 1926. He served as Financial Secretary to the War Office 1922-23 and in 1927 he was appointed Governor of Bengal. In 1932, he was shot at close range by a girl student named Bina Das in Calcutta University, but escaped unhurt. He later served as chairman of the Test Match Selection Committee, and in 1943 presided over the special committee appointed by M.C.C. to consider Post-war Cricket.