A profile of James Cranston
by Dave Liverman
There have been many "one Test wonders" in the history of English cricket, and it would be pardonable to assume that James Cranston was discarded after his one appearance based on an unimpressive top score of 16. In fact Cranston played a vital role in England winning the 1890 Test series against Australia. Brought into the team at the last minute to play in the Oval Test, he played two important innings in a low-scoring match. Wisden said that "his defence under very trying conditions against the bowling of Turner and Ferris was masterly". England needed just 95 to win in the final innings, but the scoreboard read 34/4 when Cranston came in to accompany Read. When he got out, England needed just 12, which they made with the loss of four more wickets.
Cranston first played for Gloucestershire in 1876 at the age of 17, and was noted for his superb fielding as well as his solid left-hand batting. He played with an immaculately straight bat, with excellent defence and strong drives. He left Gloucestershire in 1883 and played a few games for Warwickshire before returning to Gloucestershire in 1889. His fielding had declined, in part due his increasing weight (not an impediment in a county side that was led by WG), but his batting had improved to the level that he was considered one of the best left-handers in England. In 1890, there was little between him and Grace in average and aggregate, and he recorded his highest score of 152. His career came to an unfortunate end when he suffered a fit on the field of play in 1891. He recovered sufficiently to play four more times for Gloucestershire eight years later, but never achieved the success of 1889 and 1890.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)