From author's collection of Liverpool autographs

CRANSTON, Kenneth   [1917-2007]

The only dentist to captain England and the MCC ” was the singular accolade paid to Ken Cranston in the obituary which appeared in the British Dental Journal in 2007. Further exploring the interface between his profession and his sport the BDJ noted that in a test match against Australia the great Don Bradman sought Cranston's advice on the parlous state of his teeth. In his day the England captaincy was monopolised by amateur players, so it is not too surprising that such sporting heights could be achieved whilst clambering up the first rungs of a demanding profession. However, it was remarkable that he should have managed to do so in a first-class cricket career which only lasted from 1947 to 1950.

It is hard to imagine such a meteoric rise as Cranston enjoyed happening in the modern game. Having played for the Lancashire Second XI before the war, he made his county debut, as captain no less, in May 1947 and within less than eight weeks was making his debut for England in the Third Test against South Africa at Old Trafford. He made an immediate impression at this level, taking 4 wickets in 6 balls in the Fourth Test, and was selected as vice-captain for the 1947-48 MCC tour of the West Indies. With captain Gubby Allen injured, Cranston captained the team in the drawn first test at Bridgetown, Barbados. An all-rounder, he played in a total of 8 tests scoring 209 runs (average 14.9) and took 18 wickets (average 25.6). In his two seasons as county captain he took Lancashire to 3rd and 5th in the County Championship contributing over 1000 runs in each season and taking 163 wickets. He played his last first-class match in 1950 and then concentrated full-time on his work in the dental practice his father had established at 99 Aigburth Road, Liverpool. His connection with the county did continue off the field and he served as Lancashire's President from 1993-94 and was a president of the Former Players Association. He also found time to play for the county at Hockey and pursue an active interest in club cricket.

At the time of his death at Southport in 2007 at the age of 89 he was the oldest surviving English test cricketer.

99 Aigburth Road L17

The location of Cranston's practice and home until he moved to the Wirral. The house still serves as a dental surgery.


There were several worthwhile obituaries of Cranston in the national press, including the Independent and Guardian