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How Douglas Jardine became ‘the most reliable of amateur batsmen’ – Almanack

Douglas Jardine
by Almanack Archive 3 minute read

A knee accident early in his career didn’t stop Douglas Jardine from evolving into a fine batsman. Before he found success with England, he was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1928.

Douglas Robert Jardine, who provides a striking instance of heredity at cricket, was born on October 23, 1900, at Bombay, India. The best of reasons existed for him becoming the soundest of present day amateur batsmen. His father, MR Jardine, was in his day a very fine player for Oxford University and Middlesex, and, by those who saw it, his innings of 140 in the University match of 1892 will readily be remembered. At that time a 100 for Oxford or Cambridge was a much bigger thing than in recent years.

DR Jardine was coached as a small boy by his father and by AH Evans, at whose preparatory school, Horris Hill, he was before going to Winchester. Later on, while in the Winchester eleven in 1917-18-19, he came under the tuition of ER Wilson and HS Altham. Owing to the war, the standard of Public School cricket during that time did not perhaps provide such a searching test of a boy’s ability as in happier years, but it was obvious to all who saw him that Jardine stood rather in a class by himself, his strong defence and scoring power on the on-side marking him as a batsman of great possibilities. His best season at Winchester was his last, when he helped largely to defeat Eton, played a fine innings of 135 not out against Harrow, and headed the batting figures with an aggregate of 997 and an average of over 66.

Jardine went up to Oxford with such a reputation that, barring accidents, his Blue as a Freshman was a certainty. He duly obtained a place in the eleven in 1920 and played in the following year and in 1923, but an accident to his knee kept him out of the side in 1922, and, moreover so checked his advance that fears existed as to whether he would ever take the place in cricket his earlier doings suggested. While always a good bat, still with unusual defensive skill, he scarcely progressed at Oxford to the extent expected. Indeed, his full powers were rather slow to ripen, but he was quite good enough for Surrey to offer him a place in the county eleven. For that team he has done consistently good work, steadily improving and becoming in 1927, despite restricted opportunities owing to business, the most reliable of amateur batsmen. He made 123 for the Gentlemen against the Players at Lord’s when the next highest score on the side was 46, and, in the course of a very wet summer, played four other three-figure innings – the first three in succession.

Standing fully six feet high, and blessed with great power of wrist and forearm, Jardine has always possessed the qualifications essential to the making of a fine batsman, and to these he has added style and footwork to give a better effect to the mental gifts for cricket which he possesses in abundance. He is not a master of all the strokes; indeed, he is definitely restricted in his off-side play. But as to his strength on the on-side and to leg, there can be no two opinions. Nobody plays with a straighter bat; few hit harder in defence whether in a forward or a backward stroke, and not often does he lift the ball. As with all really sound batsmen, fast bowling possesses no terrors for him. Above everything else stands out his splendid defence: the manner in which he watches the ball right on to the bat, stamps him at once as an accomplished player. Provided he can spare the time, nothing appears more likely than that he will be in the next team that visits Australia.

Douglas Jardine did make it to the next Australia tour, scored three fifties in England’s 4-1 series win in 1928/29. Four years later, he was at the helm for the infamous Bodyline series.

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