By George – The Best Of Notts

The enviable title of the highest run scorer in Nottinghamshire County Cricket club history goes to the ever-lasting George Gunn. An incredible career spanning 30 years (1902-1932), saw Gunn amass a mammoth 31,592 first-class runs at an impressive average of 35.69 in 583 matches. He smashed 55 centuries for the county along the way, together with taking 434 catches. For good measure, he captured 61 wickets as well. Described as being able to score runs against any attack, he had a short test career for England, appearing in only 15 matches, including just one of them at home. He was related to the famous Gunn family who played cricket for Nottinghamshire; John, his older brother, Billy, his uncle, and George, his son.

Gunn was born on 13 June 1879, in the town of Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. He joined the staff at the Midlands club in 1898, but played two years for the Holloway Sanitorium Cricket Club as a professional, before eventually making his first-class debut for Notts in 1902 at Trent Bridge. He adopted a defensive mode in his batting and soon became a regular member of the team. The first two first-class centuries of his career came in successive innings in 1904, and the first of many 1000 runs in a season the following year. Gunn went to Australia during the winter in 1907 to improve his health at the same time that England were touring to play for the Ashes. He was suddenly called upon to play in the first test in Sydney due to an illness suffered by the captain Arthur Jones. Gunn responded by making scores of 119 and 74 in his debut match. He also hit a century in the final test of the series at the same venue.

Having helped Nottinghamshire win its first official County Championship the previous summer, Gunn then went on a run of four successive seasons of scoring over a 1000 runs in each. In 1911, he had a career-best tally of 1577 runs in 42 innings, at a steady average of 38.46. He struck 12 fifties, but compiled only one century. He was selected again to compete in the Ashes during the winter and had another successful time with the bat, averaging 42 in the tests. Gunn had his best season to date in terms of run scoring in 1913, with 1697 runs at a top average of 49.91. There were six centuries in his prolific run. He was one of the named in the ‘Wisden Cricketer of the Year’ accolade in 1914. The First World War took away four years from his playing career, but when he returned in 1919, he was back in top form with a domestic season-topping average of 63.08. He notched up a tally of 1451 runs in only 15 games, together with five hundreds and seven fifties. Despite his penchant for run scoring, Gunn was not one for staying out in the middle for long periods to compile massive scores. In fact, his highest individual innings in 13 years was a modest 185 not out.

The consistency did not let up and he passed 1000 runs in a season for 13 campaigns in a row, culminating in a second championship triumph for the county in 1929, when Gunn helped himself to 1788 runs, having narrowly missed the 2000-run mark the previous season. Gunn had also recorded his maiden double century and broken the record for the most first-class hundreds made by a Nottinghamshire player. He found an able partner in opener William Whysall, with whom he featured in 40 century partnerships for the first wicket. It was on the occasion of his 50th birthday that Gunn celebrated by putting together a score of 164 not out in June 1929. Two years later, he probably had his proudest moment when he played together with his son, George Vernon, in a match against Warwickshire. George snr scorched his way to 183 while his son made an even 100 not out in the same innings.

A year later, Gunn participated in his final first-class match against the touring Indian team at the age of 53. After retiring, Gunn served on the club committee and became an honorary vice-president. He was later honoured with life membership of the MCC. He passed away in June 1958.

George Gunn will always be remembered for being one of the most consistent batsmen to play for Nottinghamshire cricket. Many experts agreed that Gunn, with his skill and longevity, would have scored even more runs if he had stayed out in the middle longer! The career stats added up to a staggering 35,208 runs in 643 matches with 62 centuries. Not something you are likely to see in this day and age.

*Article provided by Hitesh Darji (Cricket Correspondent) 

*Main image @TrentBridge George Gunn the greatest of all Notts batsman.

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