Possibly the finest cricketer of the Hearne clan, J.T. had four cousins who played Tests, and two brothers who played first-class cricket. Described by Wisden as "one of the finest bowlers the game has ever known" Jack Hearne (known in Middlesex as "Old Jack" to distinguish him from his cousin J.W.Hearne) played cricket for Middlesex from 1891 to 1914, taking over 3,000 wickets. Bowling right-arm medium from a relatively long run he had a perfect delivery, side on, balanced and with the ball delivered from his full height. His length seldom varied except by design, and he was able to exact break from even placid wickets, turning the ball from off to leg. He varied his pace well, and bowled a faster variation that swung away with his arm. On a wicket that was helpful to bowlers he was near unplayable. He was a useful lower order bat, and a dependable, sometimes brilliant close to the wicket fieldsman. Growing up in Buckinghamshire he was recruited for Middlesex, and once qualified moved immediately into the County side, making his debut in 1890. He took 6/62 in his first match, and never looked back. The next season he topped the first-class averages with 118 wickets at only 10 runs apiece, and in 1896 took 257 wickets. That year he took 56 Australian wickets in his matches against the tourists. He made his debut for England in 1891/92, in the somewhat bizarre Test, in which he played with two of his cousins, and against a third, and also featured the debuts for England of the Australian Test players Murdoch and Ferris. Ferris was so successful that Hearne barely got a bowl, although he made 40 at number ten in the England innings. He had to wait four years for another chance in the Test team, but success against the 1896 Australians made him a near automatic choice for the 1897/98 tour, and the 1899 home series. At Leeds in 1899 he recorded England's first hat-trick against Australia, dismissing Clem Hill, Sid Gregory and Monty Noble - an illustrious trio indeed. He took over 100 wickets in fifteen English seasons. He spent several winters coaching in India for the Maharaja of Patiala, and after retirement coached at Oxford for many years, playing occasional first-class cricket well into his fifties. In 1920, he was elected a member of the Middlesex committee, only the second professional to attain such a position with a county club. A modest and kindly man he was liked and respected by all who came across him.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)
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