Lord Harris - the fanatical stickler for rules

George Robert Canning Harris, later Lord Harris, was one of those imposing figures who ruled cricket in England and thereby the world for a long, long time.

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He captained England in USA and Canada, and then Australia where he was in the epicentre of a riot, following which he assembled and led the first England XI to play a Test at home.

Kent supremo and the leading figure of cricket administration in England, Harris was also the governor of Bombay from 1890 to 1895. A stickler for rules, he was fanatical about the alignment of player births and counties they represented. He almost jeopardised the career of the Kent-born Gloucestershire and England great Wally Hammond with his inflexibility in this regard.

When the Australians visited in 1896, Harris refused to allow KS Ranjitsinhji to turn out for England at Lord's, voicing his disinclination towards 'Birds of Passage'. Luckily, neither AN Hornby of Lancashire nor Australian captain Harry Trott had such reservations, and thus Ranji made his Test debut at Manchester scoring 62 and 154 not out.

Lord Harris was born on February 3, 1851. And strangely for someone who made life difficult for cricketers born elsewhere to represent counties and England, he himself saw the light of day in St Ann's, Trinidad.

Text: Arunabha Sengupta
Illustration: Maha