Ken Cranston

Lancashire and England cricketer

Kenneth Cranston, dental surgeon and cricketer: born Aigburth, Lancashire 20 October 1917; married 1942 Mary Harrison (one son, one daughter; marriage dissolved 1964), 1964 Joanne Legg (one son); died Southport, Merseyside 8 January 2007.

Cricket attracts comets, players who flash across the sky for a summer or two and then fade with the leaves. Most of them have been highly gifted amateurs who would first appear as a schoolboy scoring a century at Lord's for Eton or Harrow, depart to explore the Congo, fight the Boers or drive cattle in Kansas, before reappearing at Lord's to score a century for their county, without having put bat to ball in the meantime. If they could spare the time, they might turn out for England. Ken Cranston was possibly the last of the breed.

Cranston was the son of a Liverpool dentist and he and his elder brother Ronald, who died young, displayed outstanding cricketing ability at Liverpool College. In 1938 Ken Cranston attracted Lancashire's attention while playing for Neston and won high praise from their coach Harry Makepeace after a century against Yorkshire II. The Royal Navy had his services as a dental officer until 1945 but he continued his cricket whenever possible, for the Navy, Combined Services and the British Empire XI, and returned to weekend cricket with the Liverpool Competition after the Second World War.

His startling first-class début came after Lancashire had sacked Jack Fallows, a captain who had taken them to third in the Championship and who was popular both with members and the team. It was Fallows who, at a London hotel the previous summer, with food rationing still in place, was told that only four eggs were available for breakfast, between 12 players and the scorer. "Give them to the bowlers," said Fallows. "The batsmen can have them tomorrow."

But Fallows was 38, and averaged only 5.39 with the bat, so Lancashire turned to the county's leading amateur, Cranston, to lead the side into the golden summer of 1947. "I wanted to prove myself" he told Brian Bearshaw, Lancashire's most recent historian, later:

I knew I was a reasonable player and it is only by playing first-class cricket that you find just how good you are. I did enough in that short time to satisfy myself. I went to the West Indies at the end of my first season and it was all anti- climax after that. I had a family growing up and I wanted to establish myself in dentistry.

He was certainly star material. Tall, lean and dark, Cranston had the looks of a Hollywood actor, was a dashing number six, a handsome stroke player with an average of 40.16 who was just quick enough to open the attack, used the seam intelligently and in his two seasons took 142 wickets at an average of 23. Under Cranston, Lancashire finished third and fifth and won 21 Championship matches. Such was his impact that England chose him to play in the third Test against South Africa after only 13 first-class matches.

At Headingley in the fourth Test, he took four wickets in six balls to end the second innings. Country and county were convinced they had uncovered a diamond. Cranston was made vice-captain of the England team to tour West Indies in 1947-48 and, with the captain Gubby Allen injured, led England to a draw in the first Test at Bridgetown. He bowled well in the third Test at Georgetown, taking 4-78, his victims including Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott, and finished with 18 wickets in the series (25.61) but found the West Indies' bowlers hard work and could average only 14.93 in 14 innings.

Bradman's Invincibles, a better team, old men will tell you, than Ricky Ponting's Australians of 2006-07, were the 1948 tourists and Cranston was recalled by England for the fatal fourth Test at Leeds where Australia, set to score 404 in the last day, a task then thought to be virtually impossible, romped home by seven wickets. Despite the pleas of the Lancashire committee, Cranston then returned to his dentistry, captained Neston, played occasionally for Free Foresters and MCC - he hit 156 not out against the joint champions Yorkshire in the Scarborough Festival of 1949.

Bearshaw thought that Cranston's retirement at 31 might have been accelerated by a lack of empathy with his team. Not until 1953 were Lancashire prepared to recognise the outstanding leadership quality of Cyril Washbrook, senior professional and world-ranked opening batsman. Cranston himself was full of praise for Washbrook: "He was such an experienced player and he could have made me look such a fool."

Cranston was Lancashire's president in 1993-94 and a regular attender at Old Trafford, where he was also president of the former Players' Association, and Lord's until his death. At 89, he was England's oldest surviving Test player and is succeeded in that position by Arthur McIntyre of Surrey.

Derek Hodgson

Shoppers at Selfridges department store in central London

Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.
peopleFormer Newsnight presenter is being touted for a brand new role
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012
voicesAnd nobody from Ukip said babies born to migrants should be classed as migrants, says Nigel Farage
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
Happy in his hat: Pharrell Williams
Arts and Entertainment
Stella Gibson is getting closer to catching her killer
tvReview: It's gripping edge-of-the-seat drama, so a curveball can be forgiven at such a late stage
Brazilian football legend Pele pictured in 2011
peopleFans had feared the worst when it was announced the Brazil legand was in a 'special care' unit
i100(More than you think)
Brendan Rodgers seems more stressed than ever before as Liverpool manager
FOOTBALLI like Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
The Magna Carta
archaeologyContemporary account of historic signing discovered
Phyllis Dorothy James on stage during a reading of her book 'Death Comes to Pemberley' last year
peopleJohn Walsh pays tribute to PD James, who died today
Benjamin Stambouli celebrates his goal for Tottenham last night
Life and Style
Dishing it out: the head chef in ‘Ratatouille’
food + drinkShould UK restaurants follow suit?
peopleExclusive: Maryum and Hana Ali share their stories of the family man behind the boxing gloves
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, SQL

£39000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - OOP, Javascript, HTML,...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial / Residential Property - Surrey


Recruitment Genius: Graduate Programme - Online Location Services Business

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: What do you want to do with your career? Do yo...

Recruitment Genius: Senior QC Scientist

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company is a leading expert in immunoassa...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game