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Jack Hobbs

Sir John Berry “Jack” Hobbs

Sir John Berry “Jack” Hobbs, also known as “The Master”, is regarded by critics as one of the greatest batsman in the history of cricket, who played for England in 61 Test matches between 1908 to 1930. He is the leading run-scorer in the Test cricket. With a gigantic tally of 61,760 first-class run, Hobbs is the only one to go past 60,000. He also holds the record for most first-class hundreds, with 199.

Born on December 16, 1882, Cambridge, Hobbs made his first-class debut at Surrey in 1905 at Surry with the help of England batsman Tom Hayward and didn’t disappoint him as he made a rapid 88 in his very first match before scoring a century in the next. Over the following seasons, he established himself as a successful county player and in 1908 made his Test debut for England, scoring 83 in his first innings.

However, he could not convert starts in the next few games and had to wait two years to make his maiden Test Century. He scored 187 against South Africa at Cape Town to cement his place in the side, and by 1911-12, when he scored 3 consecutive Test hundreds in the Test series against Australia which not only silenced his critics, rather they judged him the world’s best batsman.

Hobbs is among the top openers in Test history as well. Hobbs established several opening partnerships with Herbert Sutcliffe for England. Hobbs success was based on fast footwork, an ability to play many different shots, and excellent placement of the ball. In first-class in 1906, Hobbs scored 1,913 runs at an average of 40.70, placing him second in the Surrey averages. Wisden praised his improved fielding and commented that he was “one of the best professional bats of the year”.

Hobbs arrived at a difficult time for batsmen. The googly, a ball that spins towards you when you are expecting it to spin away, had just been introduced, and the fiendish art of swing bowling was newly perfected. The classical Victorian batsmen were found out by these new wiles, but Hobbs adapted his game and mastered his own art. The key to his success was the fearless attacking style of batting at the top of the order putting the bowlers off radar very quickly.

In 1913, batting in more controlled fashion, Hobbs scored 2,605 runs at an average of 50, placing him second in the national averages. After serving in the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War, he maintained his reputation when cricket resumed in 1919. When he returned, he was more cautious batsmen and adapted his technique to meet the new styles of bowling that arose early in his career; he mixed classical shots with an effective defence.

In 1930, he decided to quit international cricket having made 5410 runs in 61 Tests, but continued to play a few more years in the domestic circuit. Hobbs continued his run fest and scored more centuries in the domestic cricket. In February 1935, Hobbs decided to the call it quits from first-class cricket thereby ending an illustrious career which saw 61760 runs in 834 games which includes 199 centuries, highest by any batsman.

Hobbs was also a charming man, and the world of cricket rejoiced in 1953 when he became the first professional cricketer to be knighted.