Alec Hearne bigraphy, stories - Cricketer

Alec Hearne : biography

22 July 1863 - 16 May 1952

Alec Hearne (born 22 July 1863 in Ealing, Middlesex; died 16 May 1952 in Beckenham, Kent) was a member of the famous cricketing Hearne family, his brothers George and Frank also played Test cricket, as did another cousin, John Thomas.

Alec began to play for Kent in 1884, and was regarded as a surprising success with his clever right-handed slow bowling, heading the county’s bowling averages in a generally dry summer,Pardon, Charles F. (editor); John Wisden’s Cricketers’ Almanac; Twenty-Second Edition (1885); p. 200 and playing a crucial role in the first of several Kent wins over Australian touring sides with seven wickets for 49 in two innings - a record which made many critics surprised he was not chosen to play against Australia at some point during his career. He established himself as a bowler even more in 1885 with a memorable performance of thirteen for 48 against a Yorkshire team on a wicket described as “spongy” by Wisden. In 1886 he maintained his bowling form, but had a setback in the brilliant summer of 1887, taking a mere thirty-three wickets for twenty-six runs apiece.

However, the very wet season of 1888 saw Alec Hearne rebound to the point of nearly heading the first-class bowling averages (ahead of champions Lohmann and Turner) via the development of more variety in his spin through adding an off-break to his previous stock leg-break,, then in 1889 he surprised critics with his advance as a batsman. Whereas his highest score up to 1888 was a mere 36 not out and he batted among the “tail”, Alec Hearne advanced to averages of 18 in the very wet and cool seasons of 1890 and 1891, which were impressive on the treacherous pitches that prevailed. Kent consequently promoted him from tailender to opener, where he was to remain for the rest of his career. In the process Alec Hearne played innings of 72 against Lohmann at the Oval and 58 to beat Sammy Woods and Somerset in 1891.

Although with Martin and Walter Wright doing almost all the requisite bowling he had little to do for his county, Alec Hearne was chosen to tour South Africa in 1891/1892 and played one Test match. Here, with John Ferris irresistible on the matting wicket, Alec Hearne did not bowl and only scored nine runs, whilst as with all the bowlers on tour except J.T. Hearne the strain of bowling in so many matches against odds took such a toll that Alec did not even take ten wickets in the 1892 County Championship.Pardon, Sydney H. (editor); John Wisden’s Cricketers’ Almanac, Thirtieth edition (1893); pp. 127-130 Despite this, his batting improved far beyond the promise of previous years and on a difficult wicket against Gloucestershire hit his maiden century. At one point, he had the amazing (for the time) average of 51, and despite faltering late in the season he was sixth in the professional batting averages.

1893 saw Alec Hearne return to form with the ball to take his highest-ever first-class wicket aggregate of 86, besides hitting a century for the South of England against the Australians, though it was 1895 before he reached his pinnacle as an all-round player. although he hit 155 in a sensational match against Gloucestershire, Hearne’s greatest achievement was against County Champions Surrey on what was described by The Times as “a dreadful pitch”,The Times, 23 July 1895; “Sporting Intelligence” where after taking eight for 72 he hit 71 against Tom Richardson and Lohmann at their best, adding 118 with Jack Mason before the two champion Surrey bowlers got down all ten Kent wickets for 39 runs. He was the seventh highest first-class run-scorer in 1895, but with English bowling so strong Alec Hearne had no chance of gaining a place in representative elevens, despite scoring over 1,000 runs again in 1898 and 1899. In the latter season Alec Hearne played a memorable match where he carried his bat on a cracking wicket as Sussex fast bowler Cyril Bland took all ten wickets and Kent lost after enforcing the follow-on.

Alec Hearne remained an important part of a Kent bowling attack that by 1901 was the strongest of any side apart from the invincible Yorkshire outfit,Pardon, Sydney H. (editor); John Wisden’s Cricketers’ Almanac; Fortieth Edition (1903); pp. 116-117 and in 1903 during one of the wettest spells of weather in the Home Counties he took a career best eight for 15 as Gloucestershire were bowled out for a mere 31. However, in spite of the occasional impressive performance including a career-best 194 for MCC against a very weak Leicestershire bowling attack advancing age was taking toll of his ability as a batsman, and with a huge number of amateurs available Alec Hearne finally dropped out of the Kent eleven in August 1906, though he still played a few first-class matches for the MCC as late as 1910.

After he retired, Alec Hearne was the head of Kent’s Nursery for a number of years, during which they brought forth such star players as Tich Freeman.

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