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 both as a batsman and bowler for the half-a-dozen of 26 seasons during which he represented it. The pinnacle of his powers was reached in 1903, when he was justly acclaimed second to G.H. Hirst as the country’s leading all-round cricketer.
Born in Hucknall Torkard on July 19th, 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 Messrs. 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 on August 13th and 14th, 1896, when the County took the field without Shrewsbury, W. Gunn and J Dixon. This was 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. In 1903, 1904 and 1906 he completed the double 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 8 wickets in the Adelaide Test. Apart from on 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 on August 1st – 4th 1925. On three occasions he played first-class cricket for Sir Julian Cahn’s team with his final match for Cahn’s XI v South Americans at Loughborough Road, Nottingham on June 25th, 27th and 28th.
John Gunn died on August 21st, 1963 in Nottingham.