John Richmond Gunn is the only cricketer to score 20,000 runs and take 1,000 wickets for Nottinghamshire.
Unique though his all-round record is for Nottinghamshire cricketers, the County benefitted from his full powers as batsman and bowler for just half-a-dozen of the 26 seasons during which he played. The pinnacle of those powers was reached in 1903, when he was justly acclaimed second only to George Hirst as the country’s leading all-round cricketer.
Born in Hucknall Torkard on 19 July 1876, John Gunn, brother of George and nephew of William, moved to Nottingham as a boy and played cricket for the Nottingham Castle CC and Radford & Cutts CC. He appeared in the Nottinghamshire Colts XXII of April 1896 and was distinctly useful with the ball, returning figures of 6-2-4-3.
His debut for Nottinghamshire came v Gloucestershire at Bristol in August 1896, when the County took the field without Shrewsbury, William Gunn and Dixon. This was John Gunn’s only First-Class encounter of 1896, but he also appeared for Nottinghamshire v Worksop & District and v Rawtenstall. Appointed as one of the original members of the Nottinghamshire ground staff in 1897, he scored a century in his second First-Class match of that year v Philadelphians at Trent Bridge, his innings of 107, made in four and a half hours with one chance, saved Nottinghamshire from defeat. Gunn had to wait six seasons before completing another First-Class three figure innings and apart from a number of useful 50s in 1901, he was principally employed as a bowler, batting at eight or nine in the order. In the match following his first 100, Gunn took 10 wickets in a match for the first time, which feat he was to repeat 15 times for Nottinghamshire.
The two 1903 matches noted above took place in one triumphant week, netting Gunn 28 wickets and he bowled unchanged through all four completed innings of Nottinghamshire’s opponents.
On entering county cricket, Gunn was a medium-pace left-arm bowler, but in 1903 he reduced his speed, thus achieving a much greater command of length and more success. By 1906 or 1907 he had still further reduced his speed and for the remainder of his career bowled very slowly, tossing the ball well up to the batsman and conceding very few runs.
In 1912, 1914, and 1920, John Gunn headed the Nottinghamshire batting averages, having headed the bowling averages in 1901 and 1903. He completed the double in 1903, 1904 and 1906 in Nottinghamshire matches and in 1905 in all First-Class matches.
Recognition above County level came to Gunn in 1900, when he was chosen to represent the Players v Gentlemen at the Oval and he had the good fortune to obtain W.G. Grace’s wicket in both innings and finish with 11 wickets for 137 runs.
In 1901-02 John Gunn was a member of the ill-fated team to Australia led by A.C. Maclaren. Gunn played in all five Test matches, but both in representative and stage matches he was utterly devoid of his English form, though he managed to take eight wickets in the Adelaide Test. Apart from that tour, Gunn played once for England at Trent Bridge in 1905 – and his record in Test cricket was therefore 85 runs and 18 wickets.
John Gunn’s last First-Class match for Nottinghamshire was v. Surrey at The Oval in August 1925. On three occasions he played First-Class cricket for Sir Julien Cahn’s team with his final match for Cahn’s XI v South Americans at Loughborough Road, Nottingham in June of that year.
John Gunn died on 21 August 1963 in Nottingham.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 246
One of John Gunn's bats is on display in the Long Room; Bat No 16