From the Archive: The incredible Jack White

In conjunction with partners Cooper Associates Somerset County Cricket Club will be looking to fill the current void of cricket by regularly delving into extensive Club Archives to look back on some of our proudest moments.

Today we remember one of the greats of Somerset cricket who enjoyed one of his finest hours playing for England against Australia in the 1928/29 series.

J.C.(Jack) White was born in Holford, on the northern side of the Quantocks in 1891 and died at Combe Florey on the southern side in 1961.

During his long and impressive Somerset career, which lasted from 1909 until 1937, he took 2167 first-class wickets for the County at an average of 18.02 and scored 12,202 runs at an average of 18.40.

‘Farmer’ White as he was known performed the double – 1000 runs and 100 wickets – in both 1929 and 1930. He also took 381 first-class catches- a record that stood until 2016 when Marcus Trescothick broke it.

Other notable performances for Somerset included: 16 wickets in a day against Worcestershire at Bath in 1919, all 10 wickets in an innings also against Worcestershire at New Road in 1921, nine wickets in an innings on four occasions and 15 wickets in a match on three occasions.

However, it is his Ashes achievements during the 1928/29 Ashes series that are of particular interest.

Before he set off on that tour, the Somerset hero had played in two previous Test Matches. The first of these was against Australia in 1921 at Headingley whilst the other was against West Indies in 1928.

The Somerset man was named as vice-captain to Kent player Percy Chapman who was a larger than life character.

Travelling to Australia back in 1928 was a long-winded affair and White, who by then was skipper of his County team, set off by train from Victoria Station in late September to travel to Toulon in the south of France where they would board the Orient liner ‘Oranto’ for the six-week trip.

The first Test Match of that series was the first ever to be played at the Gabba in Brisbane and got underway on November 30th with England winning the toss and scoring 521 all out, which included 14 for White. In reply the hosts were bowled out for 122, Harold Larwood claiming six for 32.

Their second innings saw England declare on 342 for eight, setting Australia a mammoth 742 for victory, a tall order even in the day of timeless Tests.

Sunshine followed over-night rain and conditions played right into Jack White’s hands as he claimed figures of four for seven. One of his victims was Don Bradman as the hosts were all out for 66 leaving England victorious by an enormous 675 runs.

The fourth Test at Adelaide was played in stifling heat and the slow left arm bowler, who had a great command of length and could flight the ball as well as making it spin, sent down 125 overs on a shirt front of a wicket, claiming 13 wickets for 256 runs to see England home by 12 runs.

In the final Test, which lasted eight days, the longest ever played at that time, White stepped up to skipper the side and although they lost, England still won the series and The Ashes!

During the 1928/29 Ashes series Jack White bowled 406.1 overs- more than any other bowler. 134 of those were maidens and he took 25 wickets at an average of 30.40. It wasn’t just in the Test series that White had been successful because in the overall tour he claimed 65 wickets.

No wonder he was accorded a hero’s welcome when he returned to Taunton.

The Lord Mayor was at Taunton Station to greet White, after which he was given a civic reception at St Andrew’s Hall at Rowbarton. They walked there on foot and were cheered all the way by many thousands of enthusiastic on lookers who wanted to get a glimpse of ‘the Somerset hero who beat the Aussies.’

Jack White is truly one of the greats of Somerset Cricket and what’s more he helped to beat the Aussies in their own backyard!

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