Jack Brown: Hero of the decisive Test of the first ever great Test series


Jack Brown, hero of the deciding Test of the first ever great Test series, was born on Aug 20, 1869. Mayukh Ghosh remembers the man and his deeds.

March 6, 1895.
Melbourne Cricket Ground.
England, 28/1, in pursuit of 297 for a series winning victory.

Harry Trott's first ball gets Drewy Stoddart's legs before the wicket.
Enter Jack Brown, a 25-year old Yorkshireman 
A heavy smoker, besides being a heavy run scorer.
He was not in the original squad.
Stoddart chose him when Bobby Abel declined his offer.

Albert Ward at the other end.
A tricky chase on a slightly wet MCG wicket.
No Charlie Turner for Australia in this match but Giffen and the Trott brothers are good enough to get this England side out cheaply.
Realising that there can be more rain later in the day, Brown makes his intentions clear from ball one.
He edges it but it falls short of Giffen.
Brown understands that elegant traditional batting is not his forte.
He decides to belt the balls as hard as possible.
He reached half century in 28 minutes and then the century in 95 minutes, both Ashes records.
The first one still stands.
Joe Darling, and later Gilbert Jessop, breaks the second one.
140 in 145 minutes in the series decider.
The defining act in the first great Ashes series.

Three years later, in August, he and John Tunnicliffe score 554 for the first wicket.
Brown gets a triple century before throwing his wicket away.
By that time, he could successfully throw the wine bottles away as well.
But not the cigarettes.
All that indiscipline results in a heart attack.
Hearing the news King Edward VII sends his own doctor to look after him.

It doesn't make a lot of difference as Brown, aged 35, soon succumbs to ' congestion of the brain and heart failure'.

"Then wrote the Queen of England,
Whose hand is blessed by God,
'I must do something handsome
For my dear victorious Stod

All that was possible because of this young, unheralded Yorkshireman.
Born on this day, 150 years ago.