Jack Robertson and Syd Brown: More Than Just The Warm-Up Act

By Chris Overson

North London cricket followers turned to their morning newspapers for 11 summers, in 1939 and from 1946 to 1955, to see how Robertson (J.D.) and Brown (S.M.) had fared as the Middlesex opening batsmen. They were not often disappointed. The pair opened the batting 366 times and their partnerships put on 14,116 runs, reaching 100 runs or more on 35 occasions.

As more of their endeavours fade, cricket enthusiasts nowadays have perhaps typecast them as the warm-up act to the prodigious talents of Bill Edrich and Denis Compton. But they were more than that. Even that curmudgeonly old critic E.M.Wellings thought Jack ‘a beautifully fluent stroke-maker’ and Syd ‘a splendid county batsman’. He thought selectors looked too hard for flaws in Jack’s top-class batting technique, thus restricting him to 11 Test matches; and he reckoned Syd to be among the finest fielders in the deep.

Using material from a wide range of sources, Chris Overson here writes on their early influences, their almost simultaneous start at Lord’s in 1934, their inevitable cricketing ups and downs – often in those days before crowds of 10,000 or more – and their lives after they had left the field of play.

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