George Harris, 4th Baron Harris

George Harris, 4th Baron Harris

Infobox cricketer biography
playername = Lord Harris
country = England
fullname = George Robert Canning Harris
nickname = Lord Harris
dayofbirth = 3
monthofbirth = 2
yearofbirth = 1851
placeofbirth = St Anne's
countryofbirth = Trinidad and Tobago
dayofdeath = 24
monthofdeath = 3
yearofdeath = 1932
placeofdeath = Faversham, Kent
countryofdeath = England
batting = Right-handed
bowling = Right-arm round-arm fast
role = All-rounder, administrator

international = true
testdebutdate = 2 January
testdebutyear = 1879
testdebutagainst = Australia

lasttestdate = 11 August
lasttestyear = 1884
lasttestagainst = Australia

club1 = Kent
year1 = 1870 – 1911
club2 = MCC
year2 = 1871 – 1895
club3 = Oxford University
year3 = 1871 – 1874

deliveries = balls
columns = 2
column1 = Tests
matches1 = 4
runs1 = 145
bat avg1 = 29.00
100s/50s1 = 0/1
top score1 = 52
deliveries1 = 32
wickets1 = 0
bowl avg1 = –
fivefor1 = –
tenfor1 = –
best bowling1 = –
catches/stumpings1 = 2/–
column2 = FC
matches2 = 224
runs2 = 9990
bat avg2 = 26.85
100s/50s2 = 11/55
top score2 = 176
deliveries2 = 3446
wickets2 = 75
bowl avg2 = 23.44
fivefor2 = 1
tenfor2 = 0
best bowling2 = 5/57
catches/stumpings2 = 190/–

date = 24 March
year = 1932
source =

George Robert Canning Harris, 4th Baron Harris, GCSI, GCIE (born St Anne's, Trinidad 3 February 1851, died 24 March 1932 in Faversham, Kent) was a British politician, cricketer and cricket administrator. He succeeded to his title in November, 1872, before which he was known as The Honourable George Harris.

Early life

He was born in Trinidad when his father, George Harris, 3rd Baron Harris, was serving as Governor, then moved to Madras when his father was posted to the governorship there. At the age of 13, the young Harris was sent to Eton to finish his education. His first important cricket match was the 1868 Eton-Harrow fixture at Lord's, where the eighteen-year-old started inauspiciously with 23 and six. In the same fixture the following year, when CJ Ottaway scored his celebrated 108 to seal victory for Eton by an innings and nineteen runs, Harris went runless, and, in 1870 (by which time he was on the Kent Committee), he managed just twelve and seven.

Cricket career

Lord Harris was the second-ever captain of the English cricket team. He also played for Kent and Oxford University. He won two of his four Tests as English captain, losing one and drawing the other.

In 1878-1879, Harris led a touring England side to Australia. They played one Test match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground – the third Test ever played. Australia, led by Dave Gregory, won by 10 wickets. Later in the tour, a match against New South Wales led to the Sydney Riot of 1879 when an umpire employed by the English team made a decision against the locals.

Harris led England against Australia on three further occasions:
*1880 at The Oval – England won by 5 wickets in the first Test played in England.
*1884 at Lord's – England win by an innings and 5 runs.
*1884 at The Oval – Drawn.

He played for Kent for over forty years, from 1870 to 1911, captaining them from 1871 to 1889 (some sources (eg CricketArchive) say 1875-1889, with no official captaincy appointment for 1871-4). He was President in 1875 and Secretary from 1875 to 1880. ["Barclay's World of Cricket - 2nd Edition", 1980, Collins Publishers, ISBN 0-00-216349-7, p170.]

In the early 1880s there were a number of bowlers who were widely considered to have unfair actions, with the Lancashire pair of Jack Crossland and George Nash coming in for particular criticism. After playing for Kent against Lancashire in 1885, when he faced the bowling of Crossland and Nash, Harris decided to take action. He persuaded the Kent committee to cancel the return fixture. Later that season, Crossland was found to have broken his residential qualification for Lancashire by living in Nottinghamshire, and Nash dropped out of the side. Thus the two counties resumed playing each other the following season. Harris's "Wisden" obituarist wrote: "...there can be no doubt the action of Lord Harris, even if it did not entirely remove the throwing evil, had a very healthy effect on the game." ["Wisden Cricketer's Almanack", 1933 edition.]

He had a long association with Lord's as both player and administrator. In 1862, aged eleven, he was practising at Lord's. It was not till 1929, at the remarkably advanced age of seventy-eight, that he played there for the last time, for MCC v Indian Gymkhana. ["The Cricket Captains of England", Alan Gibson, 1989, The Pavilion Library, ISBN 1-85145-390-3, p14.] He served as President of the MCC in 1895. He was a Trustee of MCC from 1906 to 1916 and Honorary Treasurer from 1916 to 1932. Additionally he was for some years chairman of the MCC Finance and Cricket Sub-committees. It is therefore not surprising that it was written of him: 'No man has exercised so strong an influence on the cricket world so long...' ["Barclay's World of Cricket - 2nd Edition", 1980, Collins Publishers, ISBN 0-00-216349-7, p170.]

In July, 1909 he chaired a meeting of representatives of England, Australia and South Africa which launched the Imperial Cricket Conference and agreed rules to control Test cricket between the three nations. In 1926, he presided at a meeting at The Oval, when it was agreed that 'governing bodies of cricket in countries within the Empire to which cricket teams are sent, or which send teams to England' should be eligible for ICC membership. The meeting had the effect of creating three new Test-playing nations: West Indies, New Zealand and India. [ [ ICC History 1909-1963] ]

Not all thought that he used his power well. Alan Gibson once wrote that he was 'an antediluvian old tyrant', though he later retracted this, saying that Harris was a more complex figure than that. ["The Cricket Captains of England", Alan Gibson, 1989, The Pavilion Library, ISBN 1-85145-390-3, p14.]

In the 1984 Australian TV series "Bodyline: It's Just Not Cricket", Harris was portrayed by Frank Thring. He is depicted as being a driving force behind Douglas Jardine's Bodyline strategy, while not understanding the seriousness of it. However Harris had died by the time that the 1932-3 Bodyline tour of Australia took place and, as the Wikipedia article on Bodyline observes, the TV series took some liberties with historical accuracy for the sake of drama.

Political career

Lord Harris served in the House of Lords as Under-Secretary of State for India from 25 June, 1885, then as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for War from 4 August, 1886 to 1890 in the Conservative Government.

He served as Governor of the Presidency of Bombay in British India from 1890 to 1895. His appointment was not universally well regarded, with one anonymous writer penning a poem expressing the hope that Bombay would not suffer too greatly from Harris' political inexperience.

His governorship was notable mainly for his enthusiastic pursual of the sport of cricket amongst his fellow Europeans in the colony, at the expense of connecting with the native population. When the interracial Bombay riots of 1893 broke out, Harris was out of the city at Ganeshkind enjoying cricket matches. He returned to Bombay only on the ninth day of rioting, and then primarily to attend a cricket match there.

Many later writers credited Harris with almost single-handedly introducing and developing the sport in India. The game was, however, well established among the natives before his arrival. Furthermore, in 1890, he rejected a petition signed by over 1,000 locals to relocate European polo players to another ground so that the locals could use the area for cricket matches. It was only in 1892 that he granted a parcel of land to the newly formed Mahomedan Gymkhana for a cricket field, adjacent to land already used by the Parsi Gymkhana. His reluctance to do so is evident in his written comment:

:"I don't see how we can refuse these applicants; but I will steadfastly refuse any more grants once a Gymkhana has been established under respectable auspices by each nationality, and tell applicants that ground having been set apart for their nationality they are free to take advantage of it by joining that particular club."

When Harris left India, a publisher circulated a collection of newspaper extracts from his time as governor. The introduction stated:

:"Never during the last hundred years has a Governor of Bombay been so sternly criticised and never has he met with such widespread unpopularity on account of his administration as Lord Harris."

On his return to England, Harris again served in the Conservative Government, as a Lord in Waiting, from 16 July, 1895 to 4 December, 1900.

Lord Harris married the Hon. Lucy Ada Jervis, daughter of Carnegie Robert John Jervis, 3rd Viscount St Vincent, in 1874. He died in March 1932, aged 82, and was succeeded in the barony by his son George.


ee also

*History of Test cricket (to 1883)
*History of Test cricket (1884 to 1889)


*"A Corner of a Foreign Field: The Indian History of a British Sport", Ramachandra Guha, Picador, 2002.

External links

* [ Cricinfo page on Lord Harris, including his obituary from the 1933 edition of "Wisden Cricketer's Almanack"]
* [ CricketArchive page on Lord Harris]

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