1953: A trip down Lowerhouse Lane

In 1953 the international news was dominated by the armistice in Korea and the death of a giant of twentieth century politics, Joseph Stalin. At home it was Coronation year and is remembered as a great sporting summer. Stanley Matthews got an F.A.Cup winners’ medal; Gordon Richards the veteran jockey at last won the Derby; Great Britain and Ireland won a rare Ryder Cup victory and Dennis Compton hit the winning runs as England reclaimed the Ashes. God was in his Heaven, and short of Lowerhouse winning the Lancashire League, all was right with the world. The spin twins were born in 1953. Not Ramadhin and Valentine but Blair and Mandelson. Other arrivals were singers Cyndi Lauper and Bonnie Tyler. It was a good year for the birth of West Indian cricketers as Larry Gomes, Colin Croft and Joel Garner were all born in ’53.     Besides Stalin we lost actor Nigel Bruce in 1953. He famously played Dr Watson to Basil Rathbone’s Sherlock Holmes. Drummer Dooley Wilson also died. He was famous for pretending to play the piano in the film ‘Casablanca’. Important films that year were ‘From Here to Eternity’, ‘Shane’ and ‘Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’. The pop charts had a decidedly pre-Bill Haley look. Guy Mitchell had a No 1 with ‘She Wears Red Feathers’, Frankie Laine had ‘I Believe’ and Lita Roza ‘(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window’.      In the Lancashire League of 1953 Khan Mohammed was in the first of 2 years he spent at Lowerhouse and Everton Weekes was in the middle year of 7 that he played at Bacup C.C.

EVERTON WEEKES was born in Barbados in 1925. He played 48 Tests over a 10 year period, scoring 4455 runs at 58, including 15 hundreds. He was, along with Clyde Walcott and Frank Worrell, one of the famous 3 w’s who dominated their Country’s middle order batting in the 1950’s. He had a tall reputation when he made his Test debut but it was an anti-climax and he was quickly dropped. His recall saw him score 141 at Kingston and ensure his place on the tour to India. This was the making of him. Although only a short man, he was quick on his feet and had a full range of attacking shots. In India he showed the locals all of these shots as he had a remarkable 5 successive Test centuries. It could have been 6 but he was given run-out controversially in Madras. There were spells in his career when it seemed impossible to get his wicket. One such spell was on a tour of New Zealand where he had 6 hundreds in just 10 innings. His tours in England were more modest. He did have a great overall tour in 1950 but was quieter than normal in the Tests. In 1957 he was ill for part of the tour and the highlight was a gutsy 90 at Lords’ when he soldiered on with a broken finger. A year later a persistent thigh injury persuaded him to call it a day although still in his early thirties. He spent time as a coach after retiring and became an international bridge player. He was knighted in 1995. At Bacup C.C. he was and still is a legend. When you see the weight and consistency of his run scoring you can understand why. In 1949 he scored 1470 runs; in 1951-1518 runs; 1952- 1292 runs ; 1953- 1322 runs;1954-1266 runs;1956- 1168 runs; and 1958-1033 runs. There were no replays in those days and that makes those figures doubly impressive. Weekes topped the batting averages in 5 out of 7 seasons and was second in the other two. He was also a handy bowler but it took until his final year to get an overall bowling strength around him which enabled Bacup to win the Championship. In that year Usher, Mitchell, Dunham and Rushton backed Weekes’s 50 wickets. In all a superb cricketer and Bacup will never see the like again.

KHAN MOHAMMED was born in Lahore in 1919. He played in 13 Tests and took a good total of 54 wickets at 24. He was a fast-medium bowler with a characteristic high stepping action. This pounding of the ground on his run-up probably led to some of the injuries which dogged his career. He played in Pakistan’s first ever Test and took their first ever wicket when he clean bowled Indian opener Pankaj Roy. This was fitting because he had the same bowling philosophy as Brian Statham, of bowling straight. His injury problems meant that he didn’t complete tours but when he did, such as in India in 1954-55, he was successful, taking 22 Test victims. His best ever figures were 6-21 versus New Zealand. His brother Maxie Mahmood came to Lowerhouse with him and was a good amateur batter up until he retired in 1966. Khan Mohammed lived in England after his playing days were over. He did, though have coaching spells in Canada and his native Pakistan. In the latter he discovered a tall, gangly lad with raw talent. His name was Wasim Akram. Khan Mohammed died aged 81 in 2009.      In the Lancs League in 1953, Weekes scored 1322 runs at 94 and took a useful 70 wickets at 16. Khan Mohammed missed some games but still took 56 wickets at 15 and scored 313 runs. Bacup were third in the final standings behind Haslingden and Church. Colne with only one win were bad enough to keep Lowerhouse, with two wins, off the bottom. The first head-to-head took place at Liverpool Rd on July 4. ‘House scored 203-7 with Khan Mohammed scoring his best score of 99. He was out caught Taylor bowled Connell.Weekes had 3-55. Bacup made light work of their chase. That fine amateur Stan Entwistle scored 61 not out but Everton dominated proceedings with 137 not out. The reverse fixture on August 22 was weather affected. Weekes and Entwistle got unbeaten 50’s ensuring the ‘House hadn’t captured a single Bacup wicket in ’53. Lowerhouse saw it out for the draw at 70-3. Rene Holdsworth made 38 and Len Drabble 28.