Briggs, John (DNB12)

BRIGGS, JOHN (1862–1902), Lancashire cricketer, was born at Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, on 3 Oct. 1862. His elder brother Joseph (1860-1902) played in a few Nottinghamshire matches in 1888. The family moved to Lancashire in his childhood. Briggs showed an aptitude for cricket as a boy, and at seventeen was a professional member of the Lancashire county team, showing promise as a fieldsman and batsman. Subsequently he developed a high reputation as a bowler. At Lord's in 1886, when playing for England v. Australia, he became famous by taking 5 wickets for 29 runs. Thenceforth his position as a first-rate bowler was assured. In 1890 he took 158 wickets for 12 runs apiece. Briggs paid six visits to Australia, thrice with Shaw and Shrewsbury's teams in the winters of 1884, 1886 and 1887, with Lord Sheffield's team in 1891-2, and twice with Mr. A. E. Stoddart's teams of 1894 and 1897. Briggs was the best all-round Lancashire player of his time, and for some twelve seasons (1883-1894) was a tower of strength to the team. Short and stout of build, he made himself popular on the cricket field by his humour, nonchalance and energy (cf. C. B. Fry in Giants of the Game, p. 134). A slow left-hand bowler, with an easy action and plenty of spin, he was most misleading to batsmen; he was especially destructive on 'dead' wickets. Against Australia his most memorable performances were those at Sydney, when in December 1894 he and Peel dismissed the last eight Australian batsmen on a wet wicket for 53 runs, and snatched a victory for England by 10 runs; in the 1887–8 tour, when he with George Lohmann [q. v. Suppl. II] bowled unchanged through the test match; and in February 1892, when he accomplished the 'hat trick' for England, a very rare feat in test matches. In May 1900, when playing for Lancashire v. Worcestershire, he took all ten wickets.

In June 1899 an epileptic seizure after the match England v. Australia, at Leeds, interrupted his career, and he spent several months in Cheadle Asylum. On his recovery in 1900 he played again for Lancashire; but a fresh seizure in 1901 compelled his return to Cheadle Asylum, where he died on 11 Jan. 1902.

[The Times, 13 Jan. 1902; Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack, 1903, p. lxx; Daft's Kings of Cricket (portrait, p. 153); W. G. Grace's Cricketing Reminiscences 1889, pp. 330–3; Giants of the Game, ed. Hon. R. H. Lyttelton, pp. 134–6.]

W. B. O.