In contrast to most of the Notts-born batsmen of the 1890s, George Bean, a right-hand bat, was a fast-scoring player who, especially on dry wickets, hit freely and well and in addition excelled with the cut. Since he also bowled usefully at right-arm medium-pace and was above average at cover point, he appeared from the outset of his career to have a brilliant future. Representing the XXII Colts v Notts in April 1883, he registered the highest score in each Colts innings - 44 and 22 - and received favourable comment for his performance for the Colts of North v Colts of South at Lord’s a few weeks later. He played for Notts against the XXII Colts in 1885; outstanding performances with the bat and ball for Notts Colts versus Yorkshire Colts on 1 and 2 May 1885, when he scored 72 and 20 and took 7-85 in one innings, enabled him to make his First-Class debut for Notts v Sussex. He played in a further four First-Class matches for Notts in 1885 but with little success. Bean was offered a place in six Notts County matches of 1886 but this he refused, preferring instead to throw in his lot with Sussex. His decision to join the Southern county was due to an engagement he had with Lord Sheffield, that enabled Bean to obtain residential qualification for Sussex. In five First-Class games for Notts he scored 68 runs @11.33 and took 0-65. His top score was 27 v Surrey (The Oval) in 1885.
George Bean was born on 7 March 1864 in Sutton-in-Ashfield and until 1884 resided in his native town. He made his Sussex debut v MCC at Lord’s in May 1886 and for twelve seasons, apart from 1888 when ill health prevented him, he was a regular member of the Sussex team. In 1891 he had an outstanding match at Hove against his native county; he carried his bat for 145 (out of 246) and made 92 in the second innings. Despite his efforts, Notts won the game by 144 runs. He scored nine 100s for Sussex with a highest score of 186 versus Lancashire at Old Trafford in 1893. His best seasons as a batsman were in 1891 he scored 1,002 runs @30.36 and 1893 when he scored 1,277 runs @28.37. In 1891 his form won him a place in the Players v Gentlemen match at Lord’s and in the close season a visit to Australia with Lord Sheffield’s team. He represented England in three Tests during the Tour, scoring 92 runs @18.40 with a top score of 50 on his debut at Melbourne in January 1892. He never bowled in Test cricket.
In 1898 Bean’s batting dropped dramatically away and his last First-Class match was for Sussex versus Surrey at Hove in July of that year. At a reception in October 1898, Bean received an address on vellum, an inscribed ring and a purse of gold which included the proceeds of his last game. In 247 First-Class games he scored 8,634 runs @ 20.70 and took 260 wickets @27.75. He took five wickets in an innings nine times and ten wickets in a match twice. As a bowler, Bean gradually declined in his effectiveness during his 13 seasons at Sussex. His best bowling analysis in an innings was 8-29 for Sussex v MCC at Lord's in 1889, Bean taking 13-67 in the match. A bat used by Bean in his Sussex days is among those on display in the Trent Bridge long room.*
His professional engagements were as follows: Nottingham Commercial 1882; Oldham 1883; Lord Sheffield 1884-89; East London CC 1896-97; MCC 1890-1922 (being the senior member of staff in 1922); Haileybury College 1920-22. After playing, he spent some 20 years as an umpire, his last match being at Lord’s in 1921, a Lord’s XI v C F Tufnell’s XI one-day game.
Originally a framework knitter, he was in later life a miner at Bentinck and Lowmoor summit collieries. In 1921 a second benefit match was awarded to him when Middlesex met Sussex at Lord’s over Whitsuntide.
George Bean died at Warsop on 16 March 1923 aged 59 years. His obituary in Wisden stated “The Brighton wickets were at their best in Bean’s day and they suited his style of play to perfection. He had a most brilliant cut and--the boundary being short on the pavilion side--it is no exaggeration to say that he got numberless fours without running a yard.”
His younger brother Joseph Bean (1876-1922) represented Sussex in 40 first-class games between 1895 and 1903 scoring 453 runs @8.54 and taking 35 wickets @24.02.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 184
* George Bean's bat is on display in the Long Room; Bat No 58