Calcutta, Bengal, India born centre forward Claude Ashton attended Winchester College where he was cricket captain and Cambridge University between 1921 and 1923, where he won a Blue at both cricket and hockey. As a footballer Ashton captained Cambridge University’s football team and scored 145 goals in 208 appearances for The Corinthians between 1920 and 1934, being third on the all time list of appearances. He played in 20 FA Cup ties for them scoring 7 goals including a hat-trick against Norwich City in January 1929. He scored 4 goals as The Amateurs thrashed The Professionals 6-1 in the 1925 FA Charity Shield played at White Hart Lane in October 1925, having also played for The Amateurs in the 1924 Charity Shield when The Professionals won 3-1 at Highbury, being captain on both occasions.
He was selected to play for England against Ireland at Windsor Park, Belfast on 24th October 1925, a match in which he was captain. He is the last player to captain England in his only international. He also won 12 caps for England’s Amateur international team between 1922 and 1932 captaining them on 5 occasions, scoring 4 goals as they beat Ireland 6-4 at Maidstone in November 1925, and 4 more in a 7-2 win over Ireland at The Crystal Palace in November 1929. In all he scored 12 goals for the England Amateur international team. He also played for Old Wykehamists from 1923.
As a cricketer Ashton first played for the University Cricket eleven in May 1921, and in 1921 he made 557 runs for the University at an average of 46.41. His best scores were 101 not out off the Surrey bowlers at the Oval and with 98 against M.C.C. at Lord’s. In the match against Oxford University in July, he played alongside his brothers Gilbert (captain) and Hubert making 48 runs (with Hubert scoring 118) as Cambridge won by an innings and 24 runs.
After the Varsity match, Claude joined Hubert at Essex with only modest success, scoring 240 at an average of 18.46. With one appearance for the England XI against Australia (not a Test match), his aggregate for the season was 798 at an average of 29.55.
In July 1922, he again joined Hubert (now captain) in the Varsity match which was won by an innings and 100 runs, after Hubert (on 90, with Percy Chapman on 102) declared at 403 for four wickets. As a result, Claude was unable to bat and only bowled three overs without claiming a wicket. Rain interfered with many matches in 1922 but Claude’s aggregate for the University and Essex for the year was 797 runs, average 28.46. His best performance came in early August against Middlesex, when he scored 110 not out in a drawn match.
For 1923, he succeeded his two elder brothers as captain of Cambridge University, but was unable to emulate his brothers in the Varsity match. Oxford batted all the first day, and during the night a severe thunderstorm with a deluge of rain completely altered the conditions at Lord’s, with the result that Cambridge were dismissed twice and beaten on the Tuesday by an innings and 227 runs, the most overwhelming defeat in the whole series of University matches and the three most decisive results to occur consecutively. Claude thus ended his time with the University in rather dismal circumstances. In the 1923 season as a whole, however, he amassed 916 runs at an average of 24.75, and claimed 50 wickets with his medium pace bowling, together with 21 catches.
Over the next few years, his business commitments restricted his cricket and between 1930 and 1933 he played no first class cricket. After a five year absence from first class cricket, he returned for Essex at the end of May 1934 in a match against Kent at Brentwood. In an astonishing match Kent scored 803 for four wickets, with Bill Ashdown scoring 332, Frank Woolley 172 and Les Ames 202 n.o. (185 runs were scored off Ashton’s 31 overs). In reply, Essex managed 408 in the first innings, with centuries from Dudley Pope and Jack O’Connor, while Ashton could only contribute 11. Following on, Essex were bowled out for 203, with Ashton making 71 not out.
A few days later, he made his highest first class score of 118 against Surrey (again at Brentwood), helping O’Connor put on 287 for the fifth wicket, a then Essex record, in a total of 570, which brought victory by an innings and 192. The stand occupied only two hours twenty minutes, and the fourth hundred of the innings came in 38 minutes. The combined total of runs scored in these two matches was 2,362. In six games for Essex in 1934, Ashton scored 416 runs and headed the averages with 59.42.
His fourth and final century came against Gloucestershire in July 1936, when he scored 100 in a drawn match, thereby passing a career total of 4,500 runs in 127 first class matches. His first class cricket career spanned 18 years from 1921 to 1938 during which he scored an aggregate of 4,723 runs at an average of 24.98, took 139 wickets as a bowler at just under 31 a piece, and held 113 catches.
He was killed in a wartime training air accident in October 1942.
He was the youngest of several cricketing/footballing/sporting brothers, including Hubert, Gilbert and Percy Ashton, all of whom played first class cricket. Both Hubert and Gilbert played football for The Corinthians and Hubert also played for Bristol Rovers and Clapton Orient.