Elias Henry “Patsy” Hendren (5 February 1889 – 4 October 1962) was an English first-class cricketer , active 1907 to 1937, who played for Middlesex and England. He was born in Turnham Green and died in Tooting Bec. A right-handed batsman who occasionally bowled off breaks, Hendren was one of the most prolific batsmen of the inter-war period, averaging 47.63 in his 51 Test matches and 50.80 in all his first-class matches. He has the third highest first-class run aggregate of 57,611 runs (after Jack Hobbs and Frank Woolley), and his total of 170 centuries ranks second only to Hobbs, who was a personal friend. Hendren was a noted wit, a keen practical joker and had a talent for mimicry.
Hendren joined the Lord’s groundstaff at the age of 16, and made his first-class debut for Middlesex in 1907, though the game was abandoned after the first day when spectators caused damage to the pitch and he did not get to bat. He played nine games the following year and gradually established himself in the team, but it was 1911 before he made his first hundred, and until World War I forced the suspension of the County Championship he never managed to average 40 in a season. Hendren joined the 1st Sportsmens’ Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers as a private in September 1914, before being transferred to work at a munitions factory in Royal Leamington Spa. He rejoined the Royal Fusiliers towards the end of the war.
Hendren was also a good footballer in the early part of his career, playing at wing forward for Brentford, QPR, Manchester City and Coventry City. He also represented the Southern League XI. He was posthumously inducted into the Brentford Hall of Fame in 2015.
Returning to cricket in 1919 Hendren scored 1,655 runs and averaged over 60, as he was to do the following year as well. He was a strong player of fast bowling. He was made a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1920 and was picked for the 1920/21 Ashes tour, making his Test debut at Sydney and making 58 in the second innings despite Australia‘s huge 377-run victory. He scored two further Test fifties in the series and retained his place for the 1921 series against the same opponents, but failed completely in his four innings, totalling only 17 runs.
1923 was a productive year for Hendren, as he scored 3,010 runs in the season including 13 centuries; he was recalled to the England side the following year and averaged 132.66 against South Africa. Further success was to follow as he averaged over 56 in every year from 1922 to 1928. In both 1927 and 1928 he again made 13 hundreds, in the latter year recording his highest season’s aggregate of 3,311 runs.
In 1929/30, Hendren went on tour with England to the West Indies: his 693 series runs came at an average of 115.50 and included his highest Test score, 205 not out at Port of Spain; his first-class average for the tour as a whole was 135.76. He made six consecutive Test 50s (77, 205 not out, 56, 123, 61 and 55) a new England record, since equalled by Ted Dexter, Ken Barrington and Alastair Cook. Returning to England, he managed a top score of only 72 against the Australians, but in 1933 he topped 3,000 runs for the third and final time at the age of 44 and made his highest score of 301 not out.
In 1933 he invented a sort of helmet. Against the West Indies at Lord’s he appeared wearing a rubber hat or cap with three peaks, two of which fitted over the sides of his head. Although a competent hooker of fast bowling he felt he needed extra protection to face bowlers such as Martindale and Constantine.
A famous anecdote appeared in the obituary of fast bowler Alf Gover, (Independent 10 May 2001):
“Patsy Hendren, by then a cagey veteran, introduced himself before Surrey’s match against Middlesex, and hinted that he could no longer hook with the certainty of old and would therefore be grateful if young Alf spared him the bouncer – or “bumper”, as the short, fast ball used to be called. True to his calling, Gover peppered Patsy, who unleashed his trademark hook and milked four after four from the perplexed bowler, plus a six into the Mound Stand.”
He played his final Test match in 1934/1935 at Kingston, Jamaica, the game in which George Headley made 270 not out to win the series for the West Indians, but continued to play well in domestic cricket for a few years more. Hendren’s final season in the game was 1937, and fittingly he made a century in his last County Championship match, the local derby with Surrey. He did, however, appear for “England Past and Present” against Sir PF Warner’s XI at Folkestone in September 1938, aged 49, but was caught by the 20-year-old Denis Compton for a duck in what was to be his very last first-class innings.
In 1919 he played in a Victory International for England. In retirement, he coached cricket at Harrow School (succeeding Wilfred Rhodes) and Sussex, and later acted as scorer for Middlesex (1952-1960). His health failed and he died in hospital from Alzheimer’s disease at the Whittington Hospital Tooting Bec, London, at the age of 73.