A profile of Jack Hearne
by Dave Liverman
"Young Jack" Hearne (so-called to distinguish him from his Middlesex team-mate and distant cousin J.W.Hearne) was a fine all-rounder who, apart from the interruption to his career caused by the First World War, would certainly have reached a hundred hundreds. He also was an excellent leg break and googly bowler who took over 1800 first-class wickets at an average of under 25. He batted very correctly, his bat invariably straight, and was a master at placing the ball into gaps. A strong driver and hard hitter in his youth despite a comparatively frail physique, he moderated his approach as he grew older, but scored runs consistently, often in partnership with his friend Patsy Hendren. Altham said of him "he very clearly displayed the hallmark of class - the ability to play every stroke with perfect balance and in slow time". He cut well, could force the ball through the covers off the back-foot, and was superb on the on-side. He at times relied more on his defensive prowess, and was quite happy to wit for his runs when the conditions demanded it. He bowled his well-controlled leg-breaks and googlies from no more than a couple of paces with a quick action that allowed him to bowl at close to medium pace. He was less effective after the War, when occasion control would desert him, but when on-form was a very fine bowler indeed. An excellent fielder who never flinched from the hard hit ball - in 1928 he caught and bowled Constantine, injuring his hand so severely in the process he missed the rest of the season.
He joined the Lord's ground staff at 15, and by the age of 18 made his first-class debut, scoring 71. In 1910 he made two centuries, and against Essex at Lord's took seven wickets for 2 runs in five overs. In 1911 he did the "double", and was picked to tour Australia. He did little with the ball on Australian wickets - although with Barnes and Foster, England had more than enough bowling - but made an immediate impact with the bat. He made 76 and 43 in his first Test, and a match winning 114 in his second. Unfortunately this was the peak of his Test career - he played 19 more times for England but only passed fifty once more. He failed in the 1912 series, but toured South Africa in 1913/14. After the war, he regained his place in the England team and toured Australia in 1920/21 (where he was struck by illness during the Second Test). He toured again in 1923/24, but again did not distinguish himself with either bat or ball. His Test average was fourteen runs below his first-class average. As a Middlesex player though he went from strength to strength, with eleven scores over 200, completing the double in 1920 and 1923 (he had performed the feat thrice before the War), and played until 1936 - a quarter-century of cricket, for a man who had always struggled with his health. Always immaculately attired, Jack was popular with fellow players and the crowd alike, and was known for his quiet manner and subtle sense of humour. After retirement he coached at Lord's for many years, and in 1949 was awarded life-membership of the MCC.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)