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Vallance Jupp: One of England’s finest all-rounders

Vallence Jupp has amassed 208 runs in 8 Tests —
Vallence Jupp amassed 208 runs in 8 Tests at 17.33 for England. Picture Courtesy: madcrazyhatter.wordpress.com

Vallance Jupp was born on March 27, 1891. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at a professional who became an amateur; a man who did the double for two counties; and one of the finest all-rounders of England.


In his much-acclaimed biography of Harold Larwood, Duncan Hamilton had remarked that Vallance Jupp’s “name sounds as if it was picked out of the pages of a PG Wodehouse novel or dreamt up for the romantic leading man in a silent movie.” Harry Pearson called him “rotund” in The Trundlers. Neither did his name did not sound like a cricketer, nor did he look like anything remotely close to athletic.

And yet, Vallance William Crisp Jupp was described by Wisden as “a first-class fieldsman, especially at cover”, which completed the fact that Jupp was one of the finest all-rounders England had ever produced. Denzil Batchelor mentioned that Jupp had “powers of anticipation sometimes verging on the eerie.”

An extremely methodical batsman with a sound defence and unwavering temperament, Jupp could cut loose if required — especially if the situation demanded so; his booming drives often left fielders stationary, but he could conjure other strokes at will as well.

Wisden wrote of Jupp’s batting: “As a batsman [Vallance] Jupp strikes the happy medium between enterprise and caution. He watches the ball so well that when occasion demands he can play a rigidly defensive game, while on a fast wicket there are few cricketers better worth watching. He possesses a wide variety of strokes, and can drive or out with equal power and facility. His footwork, too, is so good that on a treacherous pitch he is a particularly valuable batsman.”

Also one of the finest bowlers of his era, Jupp had started off as a fast-medium bowler; as he reached his thirties he turned to off-spin, and evolved into one of the biggest turners of the cricket ball of contemporary English cricket. He could also bowl to a flatter trajectory and baffle the batsman with his change of pace and control of turn.

“Vallance Jupp was an awe-inspiring figure; he seemed perpetually busy and he made an unforgettable impression on me when I stood near him as he bowled in the nets at Southampton and, for the first time in my life, heard the spun ball,” reminisced John Arlott in Arlott on Cricket.

Above everything was his iconic image. Jupp was the man his teammates looked up to in times of danger; Jupp was the man whose presence gave them the fans assurance they needed; they knew that this was the man they — whether the team in question was Northamptonshire or Sussex — could count on when all hope was over.

Jupp had played 529 First-Class matches for the two counties, scoring 23,296 runs at 29.41 with 30 hundreds and bagging 1,658 wickets at 23.01 with 111 five-fors and 18 ten-fors. Jupp is the one of only three men (the other two being Wilfred Rhodes and George Hirst) to have done the 1,000 run-100 wicket double in ten English seasons.













































His other astonishing feat, as is evident from the table above, was achieving the double for two separate counties — a feat equalled by only Freddie Brown, who had done it for Northamptonshire and Surrey.

Jupp also took five hat-tricks in the County Championship — a count bettered by only Doug Wright and Charlie Parker (six each). The following list includes Jupp’s hat-tricks:











Bert Strudwick


“Shrimp” Leveson-Gower


Bill Hitch






Charlie McGahey


Bill Reeves

caught Bob Relf

George Louden






Geoffrey Farnfield


Charles Round


John Herringshaw






Dai Davies

caught Philip Wright

Jack Mercer


Frank Ryan






Eric Stephens

caught Arthur Cox

Charlie Parker

stumped Arnold Payne

Tom Goddard


For Northamptonshire alone he held several records. The numbers are more phenomenal because they followed a reasonable stretch for Sussex. For Northamptonshire, Jupp

-          Is the only person to have done the 10,000 runs-100 wickets double;

-          Is the only person to have scored a hundred and taken ten wickets in a match twice;

-          Has taken the third-most wickets (1,021) after “Nobby” Clark and George Thomson;

-          Has taken the second-most five-fors (79) after Thomson;

Given his phenomenal record the fact that he had played only eight Tests comes across as an almost ridiculous fact. It is not that he did poorly: 208 runs at 17.33 and 28 wickets at 22.00 are not poor numbers by any standards. In fact, if we put a 20-wicket cut-off, Jupp stands fourth in terms of bowling average in the 1920s.

 Jupp’s truncated international career has bemused cricket historians all over. Batchelor went on to dismiss Jupp’s continued omission as “a waste of a fine defensive batsman who could hit engagingly when the wicket was true”.

Early days

Born in Burgess Hill, Jupp received private education before being admitted to St John’s School. He led St John’s, averaged over a hundred with the bat in his final season, and immediately caught attention of the authorities of Sussex Club and Ground. He also signed up a deal with Burgess Hill, one of the finest Sussex clubs.

He made his First-Class debut against Essex at Leyton in 1909, scoring 28 not out. He used to be a specialist batsman in his early days; in fact, in his first two seasons he sent down the current equivalent of 60 six-ball overs from ten matches. Then came the 1911 match against Yorkshire at Headingley: not given a chance to bowl in the first innings, he finished with figures of five for 37 in the second. Exactly a month later he returned exactly the same figures against Surrey at Hove.

The twin spells changed things, and Jupp took strides as an all-rounder. Meanwhile, the big innings started coming; he scored 112 against Northamptonshire at Northampton, and in 1914 he played his career-best innings of 217 not out against Worcestershire at New Road. He finished that season with 1,605 runs at 35.66 and 56 wickets at 19.92.

The first gap

Then, just when it seemed that Jupp would prove to be a worthy successor to Rhodes and Hirst, World War I broke out, taking away half of his twenties. He joined the Royal Engineers in December 1914. Also a member of the Royal Air Force, Jupp was transferred to France, Salonika, and Palestine.

When cricket resumed after five years, Jupp had added finger-spin to his repertoire. He also had a bowler called Maurice Tate at his side.


Jupp resumed with a bang, routing Essex at Leyton with six for 40 the first time he bowled after The War. His first “double” came the next season, and he was selected for the 1920-21 Ashes. Unfortunately, Jupp could not make it, neither could Reggie Spooner, and Jack Hearne fell ill during the second Test and was ruled out for the rest of the series. Australia completed the first ever 5-0 whitewash. “English cricket had not had time to regain its pre-war standard,” wrote Wisden.

He started the next season with an unbeaten 59 against Warwick Armstrong’s mighty Australians at Attleborough; it was one of the best seasons even by Jupp’s standards — one in which he scored seven hundreds and picked up seven five-wicket hauls. He reached his pinnacle against Essex at Colchester, where he returned figures of six for 61 and six for 78, scored 102, and almost single-handedly won the fixture for Sussex.

A few days before the match he had opened batting against Leicestershire at Aylestone Road, amassed 179, and had a match haul of four wickets. Desperate for options, the selectors had picked him for the first Test at Trent Bridge.

Test debut

Following the whitewash, England made several changes to the XI, including five debutants (Donald Knight, “Tich” Richmond, Ernest Tyldesley, and Percy Holmes were the other ones). As Australia would go on to retain the rubber after winning the first three Tests, a distressed England ended up playing thirty cricketers for the entire rubber.

England were shot out for 112 in 37 overs by Jack Gregory and Ted McDonald, Jupp falling for eight. Despite Australia taking a 120-run lead he Johnny Douglas used for five overs, in which he took out Armstrong himself. The tourists duly dished out a ten-wicket victory inside two days.

Jupp was dropped for the second Test at Lord’s, but was brought back for the third at Headingley. Jupp removed Johnny Taylor and Sammy Carter in the first innings and both openers in the second; he also scored 14 and 28, but Australia retained the Ashes with a 219-run victory. Jupp did not play another Test that Ashes.

He toured South Africa with Frank Mann’s team that winter.

 Mann’s men had a rude shock when they lost the first Test at Old Wanderers by 168 runs despite having a first-innings lead. England bowled out the hosts with Jupp picking up four for 37 and Alex Kennedy four for 59, but the South Africans hit back and restricted the lead to a mere 34. Then Herbie Taylor thwarted the England attack to score 420 (Jupp did well with three for 87); he also scored 33, but England folded for 218.

Jupp picked up two for 18 as the hosts were routed for 113 at Newlands; once again the lead was restricted to only 65, but this time England were set a reasonable 173. Despite the low target, Alf Hall had them struggling at 86 for six when Jupp walked out to join his captain. Jupp played some handsome strokes and made a career-best 38, departing when England were left with a target of 19; Kennedy and George Macaulay then finished off a one-wicket victory amidst a few heart-stopping moments.

The third Test at Kingsmead turned out to be a rain-affected draw; the fourth at Old Wanderers finished with South Africa on 247 for four chasing 326, Jupp having taken three for 36 in the first innings. Surprisingly, he did not play the final Test at Kingsmead, England won by 109 runs and claimed the series, and Jupp was sent back to wilderness.


Jupp joined Northants the next season as a Club Secretary. If we go by Amateurism in British Sport: It Matters Not Who Won or Lost? by Dilwyn Porter and Stephen Wagg, Jupp received an annual salary of £400 from the Club, which allowed him to play as an amateur.

It was at Northamptonshire that Jupp firmly established himself as one of the finest all-rounders of his era. He served them with both bat and ball till his late forties, and featured quite high in both the batting and bowling charts of the Championship.

Against Glamorgan at Swansea in 1925 Jupp pulled off an exceptional performance: after Northamptonshire scored 124 he claimed a hat-trick (the fifth of his career) and returned figures of seven for 34 to rout the hosts for 108; when the tourists eventually set a target of 171, Jupp simply scythed through Glamorgan with near-absurd figures of eight for 18 to bowl out Glamorgan for 64. His 15 for 52 remained the best for Northamptonshire (it still remains the second-best) till George Tribe took seven for 22 and eight for nine against Yorkshire 33 years later.

Jupp was appointed captain of Northamptonshire in 1927, and started on a high: from 27 matches he scored 1,537 runs at 39.41 and had a haul of 121 wickets at 20.42. The Wisden Cricketer of the Year Award had been swamped by three Australians, but this time Jupp became one of the coveted quintets.

The comeback

The West Indians toured England next summer for three Tests; Jupp played in the first Test at Lord’s (which also marked the Test debut of Douglas Jardine), routing the tourists with figures of four for 37 and three for 66 as they were trounced by an innings. The first-innings spell remained his career-best innings haul, while seven for 103 remained his best match haul.

Jupp played the second Test at Old Trafford as well, picking up two for 39 in the first innings. In the second innings, however, West Indies were bowled out before he was asked to bowl. England won by an innings again, as they went on to do at The Oval; however, Jupp was not retained for the final Test. In fact, he never played another Test.

The world record

Jupp continued to play for Northamptonshire. In 1932, at an age of 41, Jupp stood down as the Northants captain as William Brown took over. Northamptonshire were passing through an all-time low; by the time they reached Tunbridge Wells to take Kent on, they had gone 98 matches without a win.

Day One was a battle between Kent and Jupp: as Les Ames, Alec Pearce, Frank Woolley, and Bill Ashdown amassed 360 on Day One, Jupp put up a single-handed battle, finishing with figures of ten for 127 — still the only time a Northamptonshire bowler had taken ten wickets in an innings.

It did not end there: “Tich” Freeman, the Kent giant, skittled out Northamptonshire for 97 and 75 with figures of eight for 44 and eight for 38, bowling unchanged throughout the match. Amidst the Freeman magic Jupp stood-firmly, top-scoring in each innings with 34 and 32 (nobody else crossed 20 in either innings).

GF Grace, CB Fry, Jack Hearne, Ernie Robson, Franklyn Stephenson, and Chris Woakes have all taken ten wickets in a match and have top-scored innings. However, Jupp remains the only person who have top-scored in each innings and have taken ten wickets in an innings.

That season he managed to “achieve” something else against the touring Indians at Kettering. Northamptonshire scored 155, but Jupp’s five for 64 restricted the tourists to 279. At stumps on Day Two the hosts were 83 for four with Alexander Snowden and Jupp at the crease.

Jupp did not turn up next morning, and umpires Frank Chester and Joe Hardstaff had to rule him retired out. He did not bowl, either, as the Indians won comfortably by ten wickets.

A tryst with leg-theory

Jupp had mastered the art of bowling off-breaks from around the wicket; he often set the leg-trap for batsmen, placing several fielders on the on-side, including three or four behind square. When Douglas Jardine’s Bodyline came along, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) put restrictions on both.

Before that happened, the touring West Indians gave the hosts a taste of their own medicine in the Old Trafford Test of 1933. Manny Martindale and Learie Constantine inconvenienced the England to a serious extent, and even Walter Hammond received a gash that “stretched from his eye to his ear” (Cricket Crisis, Jack Fingleton).

The 17 County captains met that summer to discuss on the future of the leg-theory. Among them 14 agreed to what was called The Gentleman’s Agreement (which had meant that they would not “pack the leg-field”). The three exceptions were Arthur Carr (Nottinghamshire), Jardine (Surrey), and Jupp.

It must be noted here that it would probably have hurt Jardine’s self-pride to a severe extent to have agreed, given that he was the main schemer of Bodyline; Carr’s decision was a wise one, since he had Harold Larwood and Bill Voce at his services; but Jupp?

If an individual is keen on seeking examples of Jupp’s confidence on his own abilities, he should look no further than this: he knew he was the only man who could do anything to save Northamptonshire from defeat; he backed himself, going against the opinion of 14 counties — with neither a pace barrage nor a ruthless, stubborn arrogance to his aid.

The second gap

Jupp missed 1934, and that winter he got involved in a not-too-memorable incident. He had apparently been driving down the wrong side of the road, and had a collision with a speeding motorcycle. The pillion passenger of the motorcycle was killed, and Jupp was charged with manslaughter. In the trial Jupp defended himself, mentioning in evidence that the back wheel of the car had skidded, followed by the front wheel, leading to him losing control of the car.

The verdict came out on January 27, 1935. The Mercury (Hobart) wrote that Jupp was “guilty of manslaughter of a youth” and was sentenced to imprisonment for nine months and was disqualified for driving for two years. “The judge said that [Vallance] Jupp as a motorist had had a good character for 28 years, but the public must be protected from the consequences of mad driving,” added the newspaper.

Jupp was released after four-and-a-half months, but he missed the 1935 season as well.

Final days

Making a comeback at 45 has certainly not been among the most common occurrences in sport, but Jupp did manage to do it, and how! In the second match after his return Jupp ran through Glamorgan at Cardiff with figures of six for 111. He did not bowl a lot, but when he did he could still trouble the batsmen.

He finished 1936 with 53 wickets at 24.18 and 1937 with 43 more at 29.41. The next season — where he played only two matches — turned out to be his last. Even at 47 he was good enough to capture four for 111 and two for 100 from the two matches (both of which Northamptonshire lost easily).


With his sense of humour and amicable nature Jupp remained a popular face. RC Robertson-Glasgow wrote about Jupp: “Of a rough and penetrating humour… under the rock I have not found a kinder man.”

Jupp spent his final days in Spratton, Northamptonshire. On July 9, 1960 he collapsed and died in his garden. He was 69 years 104 days old.

 (Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

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