John MacBryan was selected for the Old Trafford Test against South Africa in 1924 as a batsman. The Test was ruined by rain and he had no chance to display his prowess. His early cricket career was halted when he was wounded and taken prisoner in 1914 - he had played a few matches for Somerset, prior to the War (making his debut in 1911). He went up to Cambridge in 1919, and although failing to make the XI for Lord's topped Somerset's averages that year, as we was to do for six of the eight seasons between 1919 and 1926. An amateur, after 1926 he rarely played full seasons but played occasionally until 1936. His best years were 1923 (1,507 runs at 36.67) and 1924 (1,355 runs at 43.7), and good performances in Test trials and Gentlemen against Players had him on the verge of England selection. His poor fortune when selected, combined with very strong competition for places for opening bats meant that he narrowly missed selection for the 1925/26 Australian tour, and he faded from contention.
A short man, he was an excellent cutter and hooker, and generally favoured the back foot. He was an excellent player of spin, and was described by Wisden as a "neat and elegant" player. His war wound restricted his ability to throw and bowl, but he was a good close catcher, particularly at short-leg.
At the time of his death he was England's oldest surviving Test cricketer, just short of his 91st birthday.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)