Monday, 21 November 2016
The Hon. F.S. Jackson, Cricketer Extraordinaire
At Harrow, Jackson was a friend of the future Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, and had another one, Winston Churchill, as his fag. At Cambridge, he took the brilliant but unconventional batsman Ranijitsinjhi under his wing, getting him into the University First XI and ensuring that he won his Blue, all in the teeth of considerable racially-motivated opposition. Jackson played in the successful Yorkshire sides of the turn of the 20th century, scoring 1,000 runs each season and achieving the double (1,000 runs and 100 wickets) twice - all this despite his other commitments, mostly to do with his political career. These commitments also prevented him touring with England, but he played in 20 Tests (a record for a player who never toured) and was captain in 1905, retaining the Ashes.
Jackson served in the Second Boer War and later became a Lieutenant-Colonel in the West Yorkshire Regiment. He was elected an MP in 1915, and served as Financial Secretary to the War Office. Then, in 1927, he was appointed Governor of Bengal, knighted with a GCIE and made a Privy Councillor. In 1932, while giving a speech in the Convocation Hall of the University of Calcutta, he was shot at five times with a pistol by a revolutionary nationalist. Showing that he hadn't lost his sportsman's reflexes, Jackson ducked and sidestepped all five bullets and, before the smoke had cleared, coolly resumed his speech, to admiring cheers.
Jackson died back in London in 1947. Looking back on his funeral, the Bishop of Knaresborough recalled, 'As I gazed down on the rapt faces of that vast congregation, I could see how they revered him as though he was the Almighty - though, of course, infinitely stronger on the leg side.'