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J.H.King: Leicestershire's Longaevous Left-Hander

Written by A.R.Littlewood

‘Longaevous’, dictionaries say, adjective, now rare, meaning ‘long-lived’ or ‘living or having lived to a great age. John Herbert King achieved, as a cricketer, both longevity and rarity. As a first-class cricketer, his career spanned thirty years from June 1895 to August 1925. In the latter year, he played nineteen games at the age of 54: only one other player has played regularly in the Championship at a greater age. He went on to umpire in first-class matches until 1936 and stood in wartime county games as late as 1945.

Cricket professionals of his time were typically from working-class homes. King’s background was comfortably middle class: his father was a successful builder who sent his sons to boarding school. King dealt with the powerful men of the Leicesteshire hierarchy without deference as Antony Littlewood’s story shows. An all-rounder, King batted and bowled left-handed and famously scored a century on each innings for the Players at Lord’s, but was called up for only one Test Match. Only three other left-handers have scored ten thousand runs and taken a thousand wickets in Championship cricket. Like many others, he was a county ‘workhorse’. This is a tale where rarity and commonplace mix.

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