James Lillywhite: England's first Test captain

He was an accurate slow left-arm bowler who could hit the ball hard. And for Sussex he was a major pillar, not missing one single match between 1862 to 1881.


But, James Lillywhite was much more than that. Uncle William had been one of the greatest bowlers of all time, cousin James Lillywhite senior, John and Fred were all First-Class cricketers.

More importantly, Lillywhite was one of the first professionals to organise tours to Australia and it was under his stewardship that the band of English cricketers played the two matches in 1876-77 that became known as the first two Test matches. Later he carried on his relationship with the game as an umpire.

He was 35 when he captained England in that historic series, and the third oldest of his side after Harry Jupp and Tom Emmett, both just a few months older. But fit as a fiddle till late in his life, he outlived every other man of that inaugural Test side by at least 7 years.

James Lillywhite Jr was born on February 23, 1842

Text: Arunabha Sengupta

Illustration: Maha