By Paul Hargreaves
Bacup Game Preview
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- 1292runs; 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.
Rawtenstall Game Preview
England in 1951 saw the end of the road for the post-war Labour government. Although the N.H.S. was created, it wasn’t an easy time to govern a near-bankrupt nation trying to recover from the war-time devastation. Many products were still rationed even though there had been six years since the armistice. Clement Attlee was the out-going P.M. famously described by Churchill (who returned as the country’s leader) as “a modest man with plenty to be modest about.” Attlee was from a class and generation who believed in helping others rather than lining their own pockets. Quite a contrast with a certain recent leader of the same political party. Famous births in 1951 include yet another Labour leader, Gordon Brown; footballer Kenny Dalgleish and cricketers Derek Randall and Andy Roberts. The model for “Citizen Kane” publisher William Randolph Hearst died in 1951, as did musician Ivor Novello. The Lancashire League of 1951 saw Roy Marshall in the first of his 2 year stint at the ‘House and George Tribe in the second of his 2 seasons at Rawtenstall. GEORGE TRIBE was born in a suburb of Melbourne in 1920. He came to England to play for Milnrow in 1947, where he stayed for 3 years. His slow-left arm chainman baffled local amateurs, and he took 136,148, and 150 wickets in his respective seasons in the Central Lancs before joining Rawtenstall in 1950. Any doubts that his skills wouldn’t be as effective in this new League were soon dispelled and he took 126 wickets during the 1950 season. In 1951 he only achieved 110 but his improving batting saw him score 800 runs. A brilliant all-round performance. Tribe was an engineer by trade and while working in Northampton he was offered terms with the County side. He became a big hit there and his first-class record was outstanding. He did the “double” 7 times and in 1955 set what remains the County record of 175 wickets in a season. His remarkable 15–31 against mighty Yorkshire is Northants best ever match bowling performance. When Tribe’s trundling was finally done he had taken 1378 wickets at 20. Add over 10000 runs to that and his great fielding at short leg and you have a real star of a player. ROY MARSHALL was born in Barbados in 1930. He made a quick name for himself as a young player in the 1950 West Indies team. He scored a superb century versus Hampshire and they obviously remembered it because they signed him in 1953, after his 2 ‘House seasons. Roy’ s 1951 season at Liverpool Rd saw him taking a surprisingly good 49 wickets but his primary skills were in batting and 426 runs at 20 was a mediocre return. Lowerhouse obviously saw enough in him to bring him back in ’52. This paid dividends and he scored well over 900 runs to set a new pro record. Marshall embarked on a long, successful County career with Hampshire. Like Barry Richards and Gordon Greenidge who followed him, Roy was an attacking and entertaining opener. His trademark shot was the cover drive but he wasn’t shy in taking on any fast bowlers who bounced him with his strong hook shot. He retired at Hants after 20 years, scoring 35,725 first class runs and making 68 hundreds. His part-time bowling skills nurtured at Lowerhouse saw him take 176 first class wickets. If he had a weakness it was in fielding; he was bespectacled and often looked clumsy. In the final placings of 1951 Rocky was third, behind champs East Lancs and Nelson, whereas the ‘House was twelfth, with only Rammy and Rishton below them. The head-to-heads between Tribe and Marshall occurred on April 28 and August 4. The first game at Bacup Rd was weather affected and a draw resulted. Rocky scored 158–3 with Tribe out for just 3 and ‘House’s brief reply saw Marshall out for one. The reverse fixture saw Rawtenstall bat first again making 145 all out. (Marshall 4–29) George Tribe scored 64 of that before he helped skittle Lowerhouse for 58. (Tribe 6–27 including the wicket of Marshall for a duck.) George Tribe and Roy Marshall had a common thread in their cricketing careers. Both had very brief unsuccessful Test stints before spending all their time in England, thus virtually disqualifying themselves from consideration and redemption on the international scene. Tribe, inexplicably, took just 2 Test wickets for 330 runs in his 2 matches and Marshall scored only 143 runs in 4 games. In those days England was the only country where a player could make a living out of the sport. The downside was other countries shunned these players when selecting their national teams and many potentially fine Test players competed in little or no Test cricket. Those great mates Cec Pepper and Bill Alley were prime examples. Roy Marshall retired to Taunton after his Hampshire career had ended. He died of cancer aged just 62 in 1992. George Tribe was the second oldest Aussie Test player when he died in 2009 aged 88.
Rishton Game Preview
In 1966 the Road Safety Act paved the way for the introduction of the breathalyser. The Soviets put the first satellite on the moon’s surface when Luna 9 touched down in this year. The main memory .though, from 1966 was the only time the country that invented football, won the World Cup. Whether it was England’s best ever team is open to doubt but home advantage and the benefit of a close line call were crucial. Two cricketing Phils were born in ’66, Tufnell and De Freitas. Stefan Edburg came into the world, as did footballers Tony Adams, Eric Cantona and David Platt. The latter played for Villa, Arsenal and Juventus and shouldn’t be confused with his namesake, the super brat on Corrie. In ’66 we lost the fine golfer Tony Lema; writer Evelyn Waugh; Walt Disney; and old ‘stone face’ himself, Buster Keaton. In the British pop charts Spencer Davis Group had 2 No 1 hits, as did more predictably, the Beatles. Some more old-fashioned songs reached the top such as ‘Distant Drums’ by Gentleman Jim Reeves and ‘Strangers in the Night’ by Frank Sinatra. Two songs with a real sixties feel that did well were the Kinks and’ Sunny Afternoon’ and ‘Pretty Flamengo’ by Manfred Mann. In the Lancashire League of 1966 Roy Collins was in the first of three consecutive seasons at Lowerhouse and Johnny Wardle was in the fourth of six with Rishton C.C. JOHNNY WARDLE was born in Ardsley. Yorkshire in 1923. He was a prickly, rather difficult man who certainly didn’t suffer fools gladly. Even his biographer said he didn’t have a chip on his shoulder, he had a bagful of them. He was also a fantastic bowler, who has never got the utmost respect his ability deserved. He was restricted in Test appearances because he and the Surrey player, Tony Lock, were competing for the same spot. Wardle played in 28 Tests, taking 102 wickets at just 20. He was a master bowler of both slow left-arm orthodox bowling and wrist-spin chainman. Over 150 bowlers have taken 100 plus Test victims and only 6 have a better average than the doughty Yorkshireman. All those with better averages were from a more bowler friendly era, like Bobby Peel and S.F. Barnes. In first class cricket he took 1846 wickets at under 19, which is remarkable for a spinner. It was no wonder that a younger player and teammate, Brian Close, entitled a chapter in his autobiography, on Wardle ‘Johnny Wardle: Nothing short of a Genius.’ Wardle’s totals in Tests and first class would have gone on rising but he was summarily sacked by Yorkshire. He was particularly unhappy about the County’s insistence of having an amateur as skipper, even if he wasn’t deserving of a place in the team. When Ronnie Burnett, a 40 year-old amateur, was made captain, Wardle was scathing in criticising it. The Yorkshire committee decided that Wardle had to go. Yorkshire and England’s loss turned out a gain for Minor County side Cambs and the Lancashire League, where Nelson were hot out of the blocks to sign him.(Although Nelson were successful, Wardle first saw action as a replacement for Alf Valentine at Rishton.) It probably wasn’t seen as a gain by those batsmen who had to face him! Johnny Wardle played 4 years at Nelson before joining Rishton in 1963. He died aged just 62 in 1985. ROY COLLINS was born in Clayton, Manchester in 1934. A string of fine performances for the Lancashire Federation side brought him to the attention of Old Trafford. He was a steady rather than a prolific player. His middle order, attacking batting brought him 3436 runs in 120 matches. He scored 2 centuries. His off-spin took 159 wicket at 30. He left Lancashire in 1963 and made his living as a league pro and also turning out for Cheshire in Minor Counties cricket. He died aged 75 in 2009. In 1966 Wardle scored 501 runs at 33 and, although well into his forties, led all Lancashire League bowlers with 110 wickets at just 8 runs. Roy Collins, not in the same class, scored 342 runs at 18 and took 45 wickets at 15. Rishton had a fine year with only East Lancs finishing higher. The ‘House finished joint eighth. The head to heads between the two teams took place on 28 May and 31 July. In the first game Rishton scored 151–8 with the obdurate Wardle holding the innings together with 74 not out. Jim Minhas, playing as an amateur, and a big reason for the quite respectable League placing that season, took 6–57. (Collins 1–59) At 7 p.m. Lowerhouse were clinging on for the draw at 104–9. Wardle had 4 wickets including Collins for 13 and Minhas for 26. In the reverse fixture, Rishton declared on 165–4 and ‘House fell to Wardle’s skills, as they were 86 all out. (Wardle 6–32) The late Barry Bromley, later associated with Burnley C.C., top scored with 32 of ‘House’s meagre total.
Colne Game Preview
Although in 1949, the Second World War had been over for 4 years, its aftermath still dominated the international scene. N.A.T.O. was created in this year and Germany was officially split between East and West. It would remain that way for over 40 years until the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Indonesia became independent of Dutch rule in ’49. Famous births this year were golfer Tom Watson; Arsene Wenger, bet his father didn’t see it; Geoff Capes, the shot putter; Ivana Trump, who married well; and David Mellor the ex-politician and ardent Chelsea fan. We lost comedian and film star Will Hay in 1949 and Malcolm Campbell died. He had held the world land speed record and his son, Donald would later perish going for the world water speed record, on Coniston Water. Britain’s top film of this year was the classic ‘The Third Man’. This was filmed on location in a post-War Vienna that was more a city of nightmares than dreams. The film created a mania for a musical instrument that was largely unheard of the year before. This was, of course, the zither and Anton Karas became a star. In the Lancashire League of 1949 Bill Alley was in the second of his 5 seasons at Colne C.C. and Manny Martindale was in his sixth League season, his third at Lowerhouse C.C. WILLIAM EDWARD ALLEY was born in Sydney in 1919. He was a fine, promising boxer before deciding to make his livelihood as a cricketer. He had expected to be in the famed 1948 Aussie touring party but was omitted for the little regarded Ron Hamence. Never one to suffer in silence he was unhappy with the decision and his attitude to his homeland was permanently affected. He spent most of the rest of his life in England starting at Colne in 1948. He was the first player to have 5 successive 1000 run seasons. Alley batted left-handed and was definitely unorthodox. He seemed to play across the line often as he used his immense strength to bludgeon the bowling. He bowled right-handed and relied on accuracy. Although only military medium he was a canny, successful performer. He left Colne for Blackpool in the Northern League and scored 19 hundreds for the Club. Whilst playing in a charity match, one of his opponents, Somerset skipper Harold Stephenson, invited him to play for the County. So, aged 38, he embarked on a 12 year stint in County Championship cricket. In all he played 400 first class games of which exactly 350 were for Somerset. He scored 19,622 runs and had 31 hundreds. He took 768 wickets at 23. In 1961 Alley scored over 3000 runs and made 10 centuries. This was the last time a player scored over 3000 runs in an English season. A year later he had his best all-round year and became a Wisden Cricketer of the Year. Even at 49 years of age he had to be nudged reluctantly into retirement and he went on the list of first class umpires. Briefly on the Test panel, Alley officiated in 10 Tests and 9 O.D.I.’s. He remained in the Taunton area and died there in 2004 aged 85. EMMANUEL ALFRED MARTINDALE was born in Barbados in 1909. Although less than 5ft 9ins he was a bowler of considerable pace. His Test career was limited by the fact that West Indies were an emerging Test nation with only a handful of fixtures. ‘Manny’ as he was known , played in just 10 Tests, beginning at Lords’ in 1933 and ending across the City at The Oval in 1939. He took 37 wickets at under 22. In all he played 59 first class matches taking 203 wickets. The 1933 tour of England was his only complete tour. On it he took over 100 victims. One match still well remembered was the Old Trafford Test of that year. In it Martindale and Learie Constantine bowled ‘leg theory’ which had caused uproar on that winter’s Bodyline tour. Ironically Douglas Jardine, soon to become a scapegoat to gutless cricket authorities, scored his only Test century in this game. Manny Martindale was a Lancashire League pro for 8 seasons. He was at Burnley pre-War from 1936–38, in which he took a total of 222 wickets. He joined the ‘House in 1947 and stayed for 4 years and completed his local cricket proing at Bacup in 1955, aged 46. Manny’s 2 sons Alfred and Colin were good amateurs and played over a decade of cricket, first at Lowerhouse, then at Burnley. When Manny returned home he carried on his involvement in the game by coaching. He was just 62 when he died in Barbados in 1972. In the Lancashire League of 1949 it was a golden summer and Pepper and Hazare both did the ‘double’ and became the first players to ever do sowing the League standings Colne were seventh and Lowerhouse ninth. The head-to-heads occurred on June 25 at the Horsfield and the Saturday after at Liverpool Rd. In the first game ‘House declared on 206–6. J.Shacklady top scored with 66 and Manny got 28. (Alley 1–58) Colne were skittled for 70 all out. Martindale took an impressive 5–25 and shared the spoils with Ernie Smith, who had 5–35. Alley got just 6. The ‘House continued their 1949 hold on Alley when he was out for a single in the reverse fixture. Colne did make 187–9 though. (H.Wilson 83 not out.) Lowerhouse got a comfortable draw finishing on 142–4.
Enfield Game Preview
Many of the important world events of 1979 centred on the always turbulent middle-east region. The Shah of Iran was ousted, and next door in Iraq, Saddam Hussein became the new ruler. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and on the domestic front Britain elected its first female Prime Minister. Surely I don’t need to name her! Famous births of this year include the recent major golf winner Graeme MacDowell; the actress Kate Hudson; pop star Pete Doherty; Kelly Brook, famous on more than one front; and David Dunn, a man more popular 12 miles from here. In 1979 we lost Sid Vicious, and an actor with a short career, Zeppo Marx, and one with a larger portfolio, John Wayne. Our opponents today lost their most famous son when Eddie Paynter died in Keighley. Blondie had 2 No 1’s in ‘79(Heart of Glass and Sunday Girl) The Police accomplished the same feat with ‘Walking on the Moon’ and ‘Message in a Bottle’. The Boomtown Rats stated what we already knew with ‘I don’t like Mondays’. In the Lancashire League of 1979 Nasim-ul Ghani had his only season at Lowerhouse and Madan Lal was in the third of his six with Enfield. MADAN LAL was born in Amritsar in 1951. He was a useful, nippy medium-pace bowler and a middle to lower order batsman, who often performed rescue acts for India. In his own domestic cricket he was capable of batting much higher and scored over 10,000 runs and 22 centuries. His Test career began in Manchester in 1974 and ended across the Pennines, at Leeds in 1986.His record was of a utility player rather than a star. In 39 Tests he took 71 wickets and just topped the 1000 mark, a 74 versus Pakistan, his highest score. Madan Lal was involved in significant World Cup moments. He bowled the opening ball of the 1975 competition to Dennis Amiss and took 3 valuable victims in the 1983 World Cup final. In this game India shocked the cricket world when overcoming the mighty West Indies. NASIM-UL GHANI was born in Delhi in 1941. He played his Test cricket for Pakistan and was the youngest Test cricketer ever at the time of his debut, against West Indies in 1958. His last Test match was in Sydney in 1973. He only played 29 Tests in that long period, and arguably his career didn’t match early expectations. His flighted slow left arm style took 52 wickets. He was a versatile batter and opened for his country, as well as being dropped down to the Johnny Russell position. He scored 747 runs and was most famous for his only century. This was against England at Lords in 1962, when he came in as a night-watchman. This was the first three figure Test score by a Pakistani on English soil. Enfield had been League champs in Madan Lal’s first season in 1977 but dropped down to fifth in ’79. The ‘House finished in ninth position. In 1979 Madan Lal had 683 runs and 64 wickets. Nasim had 72 dismissals but a more modest amount of runs, 427. The head-to heads took place on May 5 and August 25. The first match was a complete wash-out without even a toss taking place. In the second game at Enfield, ‘House were bowled out for 129. Nasim top scored with 43 and stalwart Brian Higgin got 39. Lowerhouse had been 73–1 but fans of a certain age won’t be shocked by the collapse. Madan Lal took 3–32. The ‘house made the Dill Hall Lane team dig deep and they had only 2 wickets in hand when victory was gained. Madan Lal scored just 14 and Nasim-ul Ghani took 4–60. The great feature of the pro situation at Enfield was continuity. There were only 2 seasons between 1967 and 1984 when either Madan Lal or the great Dick Abed weren’t pro at Enfield. At Lowerhouse, also it was a golden era. Nasim was hardly their best pro between 1977 and 1989, but in that era only Tom Hogan could be described as a disappointment. These two versatile cricketers have had various roles since finishing their playing days. Nasim-ul-Ghani has been assistant team manager to the Pakistan team; an I.C.C. development officer; a match referee and a national selector. Madan Lal is coach to the I.C.L. team Delhi Giants. In 2009 he stood as a political candidate for the Congress Party.
Church Game Preview
Politically 1962 will be remembered most for the Cuban Missile Crisis. An increasingly confident Soviet Union, who had sent cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin into space the year before, were trying to flex their superpower muscles, by putting nuclear bombs on the island of staunch ally Cuba. The Americans blockaded Cuba and insisted that they return to the U.S.S.R. A stand-off occurred and the world feared World War Three. In the event the ships did eventually turn round and catastrophe was averted. In the pre-Beatles pop charts, Elvis Presley predictably dominated with 4 No 1’s. “I remember you” was one of 2 No 1’s for Frank Ifield, but perhaps the most iconic chart topper was the instrumental hit “Telstar” by The Tornados. Pop singers Sheryl Crow and Jon Bon Jovi were born in ’62, as were actors Tom Cruise and Jim Carrey. Two very contrasting stars of movies died that year, the beautiful but wayward Marilyn Monroe and the great Charles Laughton. Down Church and Owsaltwistle way 1962 will be remembered sweetly because it was the last time the proud Blackburn Rd club won the Lancashire League.In 1962 Chester Watson was in the second of his six consecutive seasons at Church, while Basil Butcher was in his sole year at Lowerhouse. CHESTER WATSON was born in Jamaica in 1938. He played all 5 Tests in his debut season of 1959–60 against England.He took a promising 16 wickets and it would have been hard to believe that another 2 Tests would constitute his entire Test career.One of these was in Australia on the tied Test tour and the other versus India. The two main reasons for his demise was the thought that he could be expensive compared with the tough competition of Hall, Griffith and Sobers, and after he joined Church he rarely returned home.(How things have changed with pros often going back several times a season!) Watson’s career at Church began badly as a car crash meant he missed most of the 1961 season. If Church supporters were concerned, Chester completely dispelled them in 1962.He took a devastating 119 wickets at less than 8 and scored a useful 404 runs, including 93 not out against Burnley. Watson was considered only slightly slower than compatriot Wes Hall and his light-footed approach to the wicket foreshadowed the style of Michael Holding. His yorker was particularly devastating and embarrassed many a League player. When Chester Watson left Church in 1967 he had taken 546 wickets and scored nearly 2000 runs. These wickets included 4 in 4 balls versus Todmorden. He spent the English winters training as an accountant, a job which took him to various places around the world. When he did return home he spent some time as head of the Jamaican Board of Control. Born in Berbice, British Guyana in 1933, BASIL BUTCHER played at Lowerhouse in 1962 and Bacup in 1964. He was already an established Test star when he came to Lowerhouse. He had made his debut in Mumbai in 1958 and had a great first series, scoring 486 runs at 69. That immense promise wasn’t ever quite fulfilled although he was certainly good enough to be a first choice in the strong West Indian team of the ‘60’s. In 44 Tests Basil scored 3104 runs at 43 with a highest score of 209 not out. In all he scored 7 centuries, the most famous being at Lord’s in that great drawn match of 1963. He held the West Indian second innings together, scoring 133 out of 229. It was a remarkable piece of concentration as he went off at the tea interval to be told his wife back home had suffered a mis-carriage. Visibly shaken and upset he insisted on returning to the crease. Off course the game will be remembered for its incredible denouement, when with all 4 results possible, and England down to their last wicket, Colin Cowdrey came out to bat with his broken arm in plaster. In the event he didn’t face as a tense draw ensued. Basil Butcher will never be thought of as a bowler of any substance but he did take 5–34 against England at Port of Spain in 1968. Amazingly he didn’t take another wicket in his 43 other Tests! His final bowling average of 18 is better than Warne or Murali but figures can be deceiving as our rival at Rawtenstall, namely Andrew Payne as a better first class batting average than Lara or Tendulkar. Basil Butcher was a popular and successful pro at Lowerhouse. He set a new record mark for runs with 1065 at 53. These included 9 fifties and a century. His record lasted over 20 years until that great entertainer Kirti Azad just pipped it. Despite Butcher’s heroics ‘House finished only tenth in the 1962 League table. The head-to-heads between the two West Indians happened on May 5 and June 23. The first game at Liverpool Rd saw Church make 160–6 and ‘House fall to 94 all out in reply. Butcher top scored with 35 but Watson dominated proceedings with 6–31. The return game in Owsaltwistle was more equal. Church again batted first and scored 174–7. Lowerhouse were 149–6 when the clock struck 7 and a draw was declared. Basil Butcher top scored again with 63 and Watson was mostly tamed taking 3–72. Most people know from my articles that I’m as nostalgic as the next man but walking off the field when the game was so well poised was a rule rightly confined to the dustbin of history. At the time of writing Butcher and Watson are in their 70’s and still alive and well.
Ramsbottom Game Preview
1973 saw Britain, along with Denmark and the Irish Republic, join the E.E.C., or the Common Market as it was widely called. On the wider international front the United States had to come to terms with North Vietnam, thus saying goodbye to Saigon. In the film world ‘The Godfather’ just outdid ‘Cabaret’ at the Oscars and Roger Moore took over from Sean Connery as James Bond. In the British pop charts Slade had 3 No 1’s beating Wizard who’s ‘See my Baby Jive’ was one of 2 chart toppers. Teenyboppers liked Gary Glitter and we now know it was mutual admiration. The surprize smash hit was Simon Park’s Orchestra’s instrumental ‘Eye Level’. This was the theme tune to the T.V. series ‘Van der Valk’ in which Barry Foster played an Amsterdam detective. 1973 was a good year for the birth of sportsmen. ‘The Wall’ (Rahul Dravid) and Sean Pollock, footballers Ryan Giggs and Chris Sutton, and Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, came into the world in ’73. We did lose, though, Lyndon B.Johnson , the former U.S. President as well as some who went before their time; Betty Grable with her famous legs; martial arts star Bruce Lee; and that great barefoot marathon runner Abebe Bikila. In the Lancashire League of 1973 Clive Rice was in his only season as Ramsbottom’s pro, while Duncan Carter was in the last of his 4 seasons in the League, his second with the ‘House. CLIVE RICE was born in Johannesburg in 1949. Even more so than his very talented compatriots, Barry Richards and Mike Procter, Rice suffered greatly in international terms by the apartheid ban on his native South Africa. By the time the ban was lifted he was 42 years of age, and although he did play 3 O.D.I.’s, he was discarded as past his best. At that best he was a supreme all-round cricketer. His main club was Nottinghamshire C.C.C. where he scored most of his 26,000 first class runs including 48 hundreds. As a medium-fast bowler he took 930 wickets. Add to this his ability in one day cricket and his shrewd, often ruthless captaincy, and you have a player for the ages. Nott’s success was largely built on their opening bowlers, Sir Richard Hadlee, Rice and, briefly, Franklin Stephenson. They were County Champions in 1981 and 1987. DUNCAN CARTER was born in Barbados in 1939. It was unfortunate for him that the competition for places in his island side was so high. Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith and Keith Boyce headed the pecking order and limited Carter to just one first class game. This was in 1965 versus an International Cavaliers Eleven. His 3 victims were good ones though, Roy Marshall (for a duck) Colin Cowdrey and John Hampshire. Duncan was pro at Burnley in ’65 and ’66. The first year was his best in the Lancashire League taking 94 victims at 11. His yorker was particularly dangerous and he often softened batters up with a few short pitched deliveries. Carter would have got more acclaim at Turf Moor but his 2 seasons were bookended by a certain Charlie Griffith. Carter joined Lowerhouse in 1972 and took 65 wickets at 11. As a batsmen he was fairly correct rather than a slogger and looked, at least to my untutored eye, like he should score more heavily than he did. On a good day he got into the twenties and got out. Most of Duncan’s other years in this country were spent north of the border. When he died aged 68 in 2008, his last club, Dunfermline, credited him as revitalising cricket in the town, after joining them in 1978. It was while at Dunfermline that a knee injury ended his cricketing career in the summer of 1981. Like a fellow revitaliser, Stan Heaton, Carter became a police detective back home in Barbados. In 1973 Ramsbottom had a great year and finished second in the Lancashire League standings to East Lancs. Lowerhouse finished eleventh. Rice had 531 runs at 28 and 66 wickets at 13. Carter’s 79 wickets was the highest by any bowler that year. Some said there was a slight ridge on ‘House pitches and Carter was an ideal bowler to exploit it. The head-to-heads occurred on 19 May at Liverpool Rd and 7 July at Acre Bottom. In the first game ‘House were bowled out for 101. Tony Benneworth got 50 of those but was one of Rice’s 7 victims(for 45 runs). Rammy got home with 7 wickets in hand, Rice getting 50 not out. In the reverse fixture Lowerhouse did a little better reaching 125 all out. Rice wasn’t a big factor taking 1–39. Mick Swift top scored with 40. You can’t keep a good man down and Rice dominated Rammy’s reply with 74 not out in a 5 wicket victory. Looking at these 2 matches, the ‘House would have been glad that Clive Rice was having his first and his last season in the League. To sum up, although Rice was obviously the superior player, both of them could have achieved a great deal more if born in a different place and time. Carter getting far more games for Barbados and Rice being a big factor in international competition. C’est la vie!
Nelson Game Preview
The news in the Britain in 1982 was dominated by the Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands and the ‘Iron Lady’s’ response to it. Football fans of that era will remember Italy winning the World Cup, after overcoming what looked like an unstoppable Brazilian side on the way. For those sad people who thought the T.V. soap ‘Dallas’ was real life,1982 saw the end of patriarch Jock Ewing in an air crash. Real life? Fiddlesticks, it wasn’t as if it was Corrie you know. 1982 was a good year for the birth of elite footballers. Kaka, Essien, Arteta and Petr Cech all came into the world. So did Billie Piper and that great cyclist Alberto Contador. The cricketer Mohammed Asif was born in ’82. Bet you didn’t know that! An old actor departed the stage, in Henry Fonda, as did a young one, John Belushi. Other deaths were R.A.F. hero Douglas Bader and French mime artist Jacques Tati. To my own tastes 1982 wasn’t a vintage year at the top of the pop charts. Bucks Fizz and The Jam both had 2 No 1’s. Survivor had ‘Eye of a Tiger’ and Captain Sensible reprised ‘Happy Talk’ from ‘South Pacific’. In the Lancashire League of 1982, Evan Gray was in his only season at Lowerhouse and Neal Radford, his third Lancs League season, but his sole one with Nelson C.C. NEAL RADFORD was born in Luanshya, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1957.He was brought up in apartheid South Africa and travelled to England to improve his cricketing chances. He joined Lancashire but played mostly Second Eleven cricket as well as League proing engagements.(He played for Bacup C.C. in ’79 and ’80) At first class level his career seemed to be going nowhere until a remarkable transformation when he joined Worcestershire C.C.C. in 1985. He took 101 wickets and became a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in his first year in the West Midlands. He had taken just 6 short of the 1000 mark when he left for Herefordshire and Minor Counties cricket. Radford played in just 3 Tests after qualifying for England. His brisk fast-medium bowling was too bland on Test pitches. In 1986 his 2 appearances yielded figures of 3–219. A year later in Auckland, he was in the last chance saloon, and 1–132 spelled the death knell for Radford’s Test career. He was a fine 1-day player and his figures of 7–19, in the NatWest versus Bedfordshire, are still a Worcs County record. Radford was a handy rather than a cultured batsman. He scored 8 first class 50’s with 76 not out his highest total. Neal Radford’s brothers Glen and Wayne both played at first class level in South Africa. EVAN GRAY was born in Wellington in 1954. He wasn’t particularly well known when signing for the ‘House in 1982. He soon showed us, though, that he wasn’t out of place following that fine pro Jimmy Amarnath. This was one of Lowerhouse’s finest eras for pros. Azad, Dodemaide and Elahi were also successful for the Club. It was the year after when Gray made his Test debut at Lord’s. He went on to play 10 Tests and 10 O.D.I.’S, finishing his Test career at Bangalore in 1988. Evan Gray was a fine first class player taking 444 wickets at 28, with his orthodox slow left-arm, and scoring 6 hundreds as a right-handed batter. In truth, though, he just didn’t cut it at Test level. 17 wickets at 52 and 248 runs with a solitary fifty, were a let-down. He later did some umpiring work and still follows ‘House’s fortunes via the internet. The Lancashire League season of 1982 will always be remembered bittersweetly in our part of Burnley even as a what might have been moment, unaccustomed as we were to challenging for a League Championship. In the event ‘House fell just short and lost out by a single point to Rawtenstall. If only the final match (against Rawtenstall) had of been a genuine showdown. Lowerhouse won the game but the chasm of that single point was painful. Nelson finished sixth in ’82. Neal Radford took 94 wickets at 13 and scored 407 runs for the Seedhill club. Evan Gray scored 547 runs and his 69 wickets at 11 topped the bowling averages. He took a hat-trick in his first home game versus Hassy. Many thought then and in retrospect, that Gray was under-used as a bowler. Indeed he bowled 116 overs less than title rivals Rocky’s talisman, Franklin Stephenson, whose 99 wickets were crucial. Lowerhouse usually opened the bowling with skipper Holden and Roger Bromley, with that fine player Graham Bushell, often first change. We’ll never know if an earlier introduction of Gray would have made that vital difference but it was only one point! Both these players were fine first class players who failed to shine at the highest level. Lancashire League crowds from that era, though, will testify to both their ability and competitiveness.
East Lancs Preview
In 1978 the Camp David Summit between Israel and Eygpt ,with Jimmy Carter playing the honest broker, would lead to Nobel Peace prizes all round. It was a year when there were more technological breakthroughs. The first test-tube baby was born in ’78 and, in Japan, the Space Invaders game was invented. The home team Argentina won the World Cup. Scotland fans gloated that they had a strong team and that England hadn’t even made the trip, but ended up wanting their money back. Footballers Emile Heskey, Louis Saha and Rio Ferdinand were born in 1978. As were model Jodie Kidd, boxer Ricky Hatton and a lady making plenty of assets by using her assets, Katie Price a.k.a. Jordan. Deaths that year included Harold Abrahams of ‘Chariots of Fire’ fame; Joe Davis the snooker player; Pope Paul; Keith Moon of ‘The Who’ and boxer Gene Tunney went down for an even longer count. Ex-Haslingden pro Vinoo Mankad died. He held the record as the fastest Test player to the 100 wicket-1000 run double, until Ian Botham later beat it. The pop charts reflected the mania caused by ‘Saturday Night Fever’ and ‘Grease’. John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John spent many weeks at the No 1 spot. 10 cc had a chart topper with ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ in which was a line on which we all agree, “we don’t like cricket, and we love it”. In the Lancashire League of 1978 Mohinder Amarnath known as Jimmy was in the second of 4 seasons at Lowerhouse, while Allan Border was in his only year at East Lancashire C.C. ALLAN BORDER was born in Sydney in 1955. He had a storied Test career and the domination in recent history, of Australia in the cricketing world, was largely established by him. He played 156 Tests, scoring 11,174 runs at just over 50, with his dogged left-handed batting. Few players in history have been so reluctant to give their wicket away. His slow left-arm bowling was fairly ordinary but he did take 39 victims, with a remarkable best of 7–46. At the time of his retirement he had played more Tests than anyone; took part in more consecutive Tests than anyone; captained his country in more games and taken most Test catches. For all his brilliance as a player, Border will be remembered most as a strong leader, who took on the captaincy in dark days but finished in the Promised Land. His first Ashes series saw a defeat to David Gower’s England. I remember thinking at the time how uncomfortable Border looked with losing, as he had to put on a brave face in interviews with Peter West. Allan Border’s determination and force of personality soon led to a rebound in Aussie fortunes. They won the World Cup in 1987 and by 1989 the Ashes were back in safe keeping. The legacy he left Mark Taylor was far greater than when he himself had taken over. What greater compliment could Border have, than the annual prize to the Country’s top cricketer, is named ‘The Allan Border Medal’. After his international days were over, Border took great pride in helping Queensland win their first Sheffield Shield. He has at various times served as a selector for the Aussie Test squad. ‘JIMMY’ AMARNATH was born in Patiala in 1950. He was the son of an Indian Test skipper and his two brothers also played at first class level. One of those, Surinder, was Burnley pro opposite Jimmy at the ‘House, in 1977. Jimmy played 69 Tests scoring 4378 runs at over 42 with 11 centuries. He had a long span in Test cricket, beginning at Chennai in 1969 and finishing versus West Indies, in the same city in 1988. The fact that in that period he played only 69 times shows that he had a roller-coaster career. He was discarded many times, only to return from the wilderness. He had started as a player with a reputation of struggling against short-pitched bowling. Many players, such as Michael Bevan, have had Test careers blighted by this. Amarnath not only conquered the problem, he briefly got the reputation as the World’s best against pace bowling. This spell was in the 1982–83 period which was the zenith of his Test career. India played 11 consecutive away games to the mighty West Indies and hated rivals Pakistan. In those games he scored 1182 runs with 5 hundreds. His form was still on a high when he received back to back ‘Man of the Match’ awards, as India won the 1983 World Cup, with an against the odds victory versus West Indies at Lords’. To emphasise the up and down nature of his career, he followed this with one of the worst trots in all Test history. At home, again against the Windies, he scored just one run in six innings. He was christened ‘Mr Amarnought’ and dropped yet again. He later got another chance to show that was an aberration. Since his playing days, Jimmy has had spells as coach to Bangladesh and Morocco. His involvement nowadays is limited to some T.V. commentary work. In the Lancs League of 1978, East Lancs were sixth and ‘House down in tenth. Those moderate positions didn’t reflect the individual performances of Border and Amarnath. Allan set a Club batting record with 1137 runs at 54. He also took 55 wickets at 19. Jimmy scored 826 runs at 38 and impressed as a bowler, with 80 wickets at 13. Border needed more support from the team’s amateur bowling. This was shown in a week-end in June when Border scored 104 not out versus Burnley and 179 not out against Rawtenstall. Border finished on the losing side both days! The ‘House hadn’t enough amateur talent and Amarnath had too little support. When there were runs on the board, Amarnath and Alan Holden were capable of winning any game. I can still picture his relaxed, almost lazy looking run-up, and the accuracy of his bowling, which on a helpful track led to many ‘House triumphs.
Todmorden Game Preview
It would be difficult to describe to some of our young players, like Jonny Whitehead and Joe Martin, who are used to rather ropey summers, how great and sustained the weather was in the long, hot summer of 1976. That year saw Concorde make its first commercial flight, although it failed to ever become very profitable. In 1976 America celebrated 200 years of independence and rubbed it in on its former colonial master, when the pound slipped below the 2 dollar mark for the first time in history. Four attractive women born that year were Reese Witherspoon, Anna Friel, Emma Bunton and Cat Deeley. The singer Paul Robeson, comedian Sid James, and film director Carol Reed, all died in 1976, as did a woman who had killed off many a character, Agatha Christie. Abba dominated the pop charts. Mama Mia, Fernando and Dancing Queen were all No 1’s. Pussycat sang Mississippi and Brotherhood of Man had save all Your Kisses for Me. I well remember being drunk down The Hop a few times and dancing to The Real Thing’s “You to me are everything.” What don’t you believe? The dancing or the drunkenness! In the Lancashire League of 1976 Colin Milburn was in his only year as ‘House pro and Mohsin Khan, the first of 5 years, 3 with Tod and 2 with Accy. MOHSIN KHAN was born in Karachi in 1955. He was a handsome, elegant man which reflected a pleasing and stylish approach to batting. He scored 2709 runs at 37 in his 48 Test appearances. He impressed in Australia when getting back to back Test centuries. 149 in Adelaide followed by 153 in Melbourne. In England he is best known for scoring a double hundred at Lords in 1978. This being the first double century at Headquarters since Kiwi Martin Donnelly in 1949. Mohsin’s cricket career came to an abrupt halt when he married an Indian actress and decided to try his own acting skills in Bollywood. COLIN MILBURN was born in Burnopfield.Co. Durham in 1941. Those were the days when Durham was a Minor County (when they could only dream about beating Lancashire) and Colin moved to Northants to earn his living. (He also spent a couple of winters in Western Australia.) Milburn stood out as a brilliant hard-hitting batsman and because of his roly-poly shape. (His weight fluctuated between 16 and 18 stone.) In 9 Tests he scored 654 runs at 46. He could never nail down a regular place because when he failed his ultra-attacking style was characterised as reckless. Nevertheless he did produce some gems. These included 94 and 126 not out versus West Indies,83 against Australia at Lords and 139 in Mohsin’s home town Karachi. On May 23, 1969 Colin Milburn’s world fell in on him. Many car crash injuries heel in time but the loss of an eye isn’t one of them. His comeback attempts to the big-time understandably failed and his final totals were 13000 first class runs and 99 wickets. He was a fine short-leg and took 43 catches in 1964 alone. In the 1976 Lancashire League ‘House finished second to bottom after flattering with a good start. Only Nelson kept them from the wooden spoon position. Todmorden finished fifth. Mohsin Khan scored 734 runs at 36 and took 39 wickets. (Not bad for a player without a first class victim.) Milburn had 50’s versus Burnley and Rishton but only 428 runs in total at 26. He took only 10 wickets. Like Corrie Jordaan, and even Kirti Azad, Colin divided opinion. Some felt sorry that a basically likeable big-hearted bloke couldn’t cope with Lowerhouse’s (and some others) dodgy pitches. Others deceived by the good start thought his hard-drinking, massive eating lifestyle not conducive with giving his best on the field. If tales of his legendary bingeing are correct, Colin made Roy Ewart’s eating intake look like that of an anorexic model. The head to heads between Milburn and Khan occurred on 29 May and 14 August. The first game at Centre Vale was abandoned without a ball being bowled. Those who think the weather is better in Yorkshire should note all the other games in Lancashire achieved results! At Liverpool Rd, Milburn made 39 out of ‘House’s 126–7(Khan 2–36) Tod easily won by 8 wickets. The highlight of their reply a 120 run partnership between Mohsin Khan 52 and ex-Burnley Grammar teacher Ian Smith 66 not out. The paths of these pros were very divergent. I remember seeing Mohsin Khan spectating at Tod in 1991 when he was a feted actor and renowned ex-pro. The previous year Colin Milburn’s fast lifestyle had caught up on him. He died of a heart-attack aged just 48. His greater epitaph, will not be as a cricketer, where he had significant but short-lived success, but as a human being, who befriended and entertained strangers and mates alike. It would be hard not to think that Colin had his share of inner demons and bitterness about May, 1969 but he didn’t inflict them on anybody else.
Accrington Game Preview
Because of George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ this was a famous year even before we’d arrived there. Two big international incidents happened in India. A gas leak at a Union Carbide plant killed 3800 at Bhopal and the P.M. of India, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated. Domestically the I.R.A. tried to do the same thing to Mrs Thatcher and her Cabinet, in a Brighton hotel, at the time of the Conservative Party Conference. On the sporting front, the Soviets played tit for tat with the United States. The latter didn’t turn up at the Olympics in Moscow, so the Soviet Union predictably boycotted the L.A. Olympic renewal. Singer Katie Melua was born in 1984, as was Kelly Osbourne. Cricketer Alistair Cook came into the world, as did one of the world’s richest sportsmen, basketballer LeBron James, and now of the Miami Heat, Singers Jackie Wilson and Marvin Gaye died in 1984. Other departures were comedian Tommy Cooper and film stars Richard Burton, Diana Dors, Flora Robson and the most famous of Tarzans, Johnny Weissmuller. In the 1984 pop charts Frankie Goes to Hollywood blitzed to our attention with 3 consecutive No 1’s. Lionel Ritchie said ‘Hello’ and Wham were at the height of their popularity. Popular films of 1984 were Ghostbusters, Beverley Hills Cop and the Karate Kid. In the Lancashire League of 1984 Kirti Azad was in the middle year of his 3 at Lowerhouse. At Accrington C.C. old boy David Lloyd had returned from Lancashire and was in the first of a 2 year stint as their pro. DAVID LLOYD was born in the town of Accrington in 1947. He had a long career at Old Trafford beginning in 1965 and lasting until 1983. He finished with almost 20,000 first class runs as a left-handed batsman who combined stylishness with an ability to graft when necessary. His slow left-arm bowling took a handy 237 wickets. He was capped by the County in 1968 and served as first team skipper from 1973 to 1977. His Test career was very concise, lasting 9 Tests and just over 7 months. In only his second match at Edgbaston in 1974, Lloyd scored 214 not out versus India. This was not only his best Test score but his highest in first class cricket. This encouraging start didn’t last and he was a victim of the unequal contest Down Under that winter. England were ambushed by Dennis Lillee and the new boy revelation that was Jeff Thomson. Whilst others survived the Aussie onslaught, Lloyd was seen as damaged goods and that was that for his Test career. He ended with 552 runs at over 42(a far better average than fellow Lancastrian Mike Atherton) His O.D.I. average was also over 40. His bowling in internationals was 4 overs in Tests and 2 overs in O.D.I.’s. In the latter he took his only international wicket for 3 runs. After David left Accy he has made occasional amateur appearances sometimes alongside his talented son Graham. The highlight was when Lloyd senior was at the crease when Accrington retained the League Championship in 2009. David Lloyd did a spell as an umpire. Latterly he has been England coach, a talented after dinner performer, and as found his most apt niche as a Sky cricket commentator. KIRTI AZAD was born in Purnea in 1959. His father was an important government minister. He scored 20 centuries at first class level with his entertaining, swashbuckling style and took 234 wickets with his fast off-spin. For all that, any of his admirers at Lowerhouse or at first class level, will be amazed at what a disaster his international career was. His Test debut was at Wellington in 1981 and it ended two years later versus West Indies at Ahmedabad. In 7 Tests he scored just 135 runs and didn’t get above 24. His bowling was equally dismal and 3 expensive wickets was his lot. He was only slightly more successful in O.D.I.’s of which he played 25. His only real bowling highlight was bowling Ian Botham in the 1983 World Cup semi-final. His batting highlight was a great cameo 39 not out which won an early day-night game against arch-rivals Pakistan. At the highest level Kirti’s Achilles heel was not being able to cope with really fast bowling. Although he could hit medium paced bowling and spin all day long, that disability was to cripple his international chances. Kirti Azad and his wife are both now involved in politics in Delhi. In 1984 Kirti Azad had easily his best year for the ‘House. He scored 1069 runs at 56 and took 72 wickets at 17. A great performance by any standards. The run total erased Basil Butcher’s 1962 total from the record books. A 38 year-old David Lloyd couldn’t compete with those numbers. He scored 673 at 28 and captured 37 wickets at 24. Lowerhouse finished fifth and Accy tenth. The head to heads occurred early in the season, on 29 April and 20 May. In the first game at Thorneyholme Rd, the ‘House scored 184–8 with Azad’s 38 top scoring. David Lloyd opened for Accy and had got to 41 when he was bowled by his fellow pro. ‘House won by 51 runs. At Liverpool Rd Accy batted first and were on 118–2 when rain caused an abandonment. (Lloyd 37) To conclude David Lloyd can feel disgruntled about his international chances. He was certainly found wanting in Australia but wasn’t the only one. Most of those got extra opportunities, Lloyd didn’t. For those of us who were enthralled by Kirti Azad’s ability, his debacle of an international career is hard to fathom. The likely reason as Mudasser Nazar once explained, an inability to cope with fast bowling. Nazar said Imran Khan started warming up as soon as Kirti came to the wicket. The Yorkshire batsman of the 1930’s Maurice Leyland famously said nobody liked fast bowling but some could handle it better than others. Kirti Azad just couldn’t handle it at all.
Haslingden Game Preview
In 1971 Idi Amin became a household name when he staged a political coup and became leader of Uganda. In this year East Pakistan became the independent state of Bangladesh. At home we were coming to terms with decimal currency. People’s understanding of the new-fangled money was usually in inverse proportion to their age. Older people struggled with the conversion tables especially my gran, who wanted to convert back to old money to test if she was being robbed. I’ m glad I don’t have to tell her that her favourite bilberry tarts from Oddie’s , are now 19 shillings. 1971 saw the birth of football stars Andrew Cole and Stan Collymore, as well as a cricketer still playing, in Dominic Cork. Perhaps the most eminent sports star to be born in ’71 was multi-Wimbledon winner Pete Sampras. Lord Reith, who more than anyone had helped fashion the B.B.C. died in 1971, as did Louis Armstrong and actor Pete Duel. The latter had just become famous in the hit T.V. series ‘Alias Smith and Jones’ but sadly took his own life. The saddest demise of ’71 in our part of Lancashire, particularly Nelson, was that of Sir Learie Constantine, perhaps the most influential of Lancashire League professionals. The pop charts reflected the country’s shock that the Beatles had split up. The year started with Clive Dunn’s No1 ‘Grandma’ and ended with Benny Hill’s milkman Ernie. Marc Bolan and his band T Rex emerged as group of the year, at least in the singles charts. Two of the biggest films of the year couldn’t have been more different. One was the violent, futuristic nihilism portrayed in ‘A Clockwork Orange’, the other the weepie ‘Love Story’. In the Lancashire League of 1971, the up and coming Dennis Lillee was in his only season at Bentgate, whereas Des Sparks was in his fourth year at Lowerhouse, the third as pro. DENNIS KEITH LILLEE was born in a suburb of Perth, Western Australia in 1949. It is impossible in a short space to do his career justice so pardon this summary. He had made his Test debut just 3 months before joining Haslingden for the 1971 season. He went on to play 70 Tests taking 355 wickets at under 24. He became the player to better Lance Gibbs’s Test bowling record. The year after, sometimes appearing a little wild and wayward at Hassy, he returned to our shores and took 31 Test wickets in a drawn Test series. England’s grasp on the Ashes was emphatically ended in 1974–75. Lillee combined with Jeff Thomson to destroy the English order. They were backed up by the under-rated Max Walker. Dennis Lillee had a fine copybook action and an intimidatory stare as he flicked the sweat from beneath his ever present headband. He and that aggressive wicket-keeper Rodney Marsh, combined for 95 dismissals in Tests. Dennis could have got even more wickets but a serious back injury in 1973, and then later, his time off with Kerry Packer’s cricket circus, curtailed his final number of Test matches. His return in the early 80’s saw him bowl at a reduced pace but he was wilier than ever and his wickets per Test was hardly affected. For our younger players too young to have seen Lillee, it would be his duel with England’s Derek Randall, in the 1977 Centennary Test in Melbourne, that I’d recommend watching, to show what this legendary player was all about. JOHN DESMOND SPARKS was born in Bethlehem, Orange Free State in 1944.His father Henry and Uncle Dudley had both been first class cricketers. Sparks was just a club cricketer when he and his friend, Graham Pedley, travelled to England in 1967. They both got jobs in the area and thus had a qualification to play for Lowerhouse. Both players impressed, particularly Sparks with a bowling tally of 50 wickets at just 14. In 1969 Sparks was engaged as ‘House’s pro and had his best year taking 78 victims with his fast medium bowling. His next 2 seasons saw him take 64 and 69 wickets respectively. His batting skills were definitely lacking. Between 1969 and 1973 Lowerhouse employed pros , who had at the time of their engagement played only one first class game between them With an amateur pool of players below League average, a fight for honours was nearly impossible. When Sparks returned to South Africa in 1972, he did make his first class debut following in his family footsteps. In total he played 16 games for Northerns, taking a respectable 56 wickets at 27 and having five 5 wicket hauls. In the Lancs League that season, a youthful Lillee was only on par with Sparks in wickets but did outshine him with the bat. It wasn’t a vintage season for either club. Haslingden finished eleventh whereas only a dismal season at Nelson kept ‘House off the bottom. Under the quirks of the League’s fixtures, the two sides didn’t meet until Sept. 4 at Liverpool Rd. In this game Lowerhouse were skittled for 62. Although Lillee took 4–24 he wasn’t as impressive as veteran Rupert Jackman, who had 6–27. Hassy won by 7 wickets. A week later the two teams met again at Bentgate to close out their seasons. Haslingden made 178–7 with Lillee making 46 before being run out. Sparks took 2–73. Lowerhouse refused to fold and were 161–8 when a draw was declared. (Lillee 4–72) I wonder how many present at the 1971 season finale would have predicted that one pro would be the talk of the cricketing world and a legend of the game, while the other would be forgotten except in a small Lancashire village!
Burnley Game Preview
2011 sees the silver anniversary of the year of 1986. (How quickly time passes.) Both the old superpowers had problems in this year. The Challenger Space Shuttle exploded, killing 7 astronauts and 1986 was the year of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, Soviet Union. Football fans will always remember “the hand of God” whereby a stronger than average English World Cup challenge was ended. Fans of the Boston Red Sox also felt cheated as they came agonisingly close to ending a 68 year World Series drought. 1986 saw the Marcos family, including Imelda’s vast shoe collection, thrown out of the Philippines. Actresses Megan Fox and Lindsay Lohan were born in this year. Notable departures included Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy; Gordon MacRae of Carousel; Wallis Simpson of the 1930’s abdication crisis; Pat Phoenix of Corrie; Cary Grant, the suave Bristol-born actor and Harold MacMillan, who had recently warned his old party about selling the family silver. Is it really 25 years since the Pet Shop Boys (West End Girls) Chris de Burgh (Lady in Red) Berlin (Take My Breath Away) and Madonna (True Blue) all topped the singles charts. In the Lancashire League of 1986 Tony Dodemaide was in his only season at Lowerhouse and Mudasser Nazar, in his sixth of the nine seasons, he spent at Turf Moor. MUDASSER NAZAR was born in Lahore, Pakistan in 1956. His father had played Test cricket and he, himself, went on to play in 76 Tests, starting in Adelaide in 1976 and finishing in Auckland in 1989. He scored over 4000 runs including 10 centuries. The first and most famous, was in his home city, on England’s tour to Pakistan in 1978. It was the slowest hundred ever in Tests and it is surprising now that Test cricket is less fashionable, that crowds rolling up to watch the local hero’s snore-inducing innings , topped 50,000. Mud, as he became known in League circles, also played 122 O.D.I.’s, but never scored a hundred in that form. Playing Lancashire League certainly helped improve Mudasser’s bowling. He took 66 Test wickets (once famously going through an embarrassed English order) and 111 wickets in O.D.I.’s. For Burnley Mud was a model of consistency and an all-round model pro. His bowling was more than useful but his trademark was his consistent batting. He never believed in putting the ball in the air unnecessarily or throwing his wicket away. At Lowerhouse we celebrated wildly if we got him before he’d settled in, such as when Roger Bromley got him with a perfectly pitched out-swinger one afternoon. In all Mud got over 7000 runs and 400 wickets for the Turfites. His best year for both batting and bowling was 1984. (1160 runs and 70 wickets.) No wonder they kept signing the bugger! TONY DODEMAIDE was born in Melbourne in 1963. He played for Lowerhouse in ’86, and disappointed some of his friends at the ‘House, such as Brian Holmes, by signing for arch-rivals East Lancs in 1992. His international career started brightly but petered out earlier than most expected. He played 10 Tests, taking 34 wickets at 28.He took 6–58 on his Test debut versus New Zealand. Tony played 24 O.D.I.’s and was the first bowler in this form of the game to take 5 wickets on debut. This was against Sri Lanka. Uniquely Dodemaide’s first 4 Tests were all against different countries. He later had 3 successful seasons at Sussex C.C.C. For the ‘House, Dodemaide is high up on my list of favourite past pros. Unlike some of his countrymen, he was a polite and modest person. He was a real trier of a fast bowler taking 94 wickets for Lowerhouse in 1986. Only John Maguire at Church and Winston Davies at Rishton had more wickets that season. He didn’t shirk a high workload and a fair description of his attitude was that he was a pro equivalent of Jez Hope. He wasn’t the most natural batsman but fought his way to 570 League runs in ’86. Dodemaide’s good final total of nearly 6000 first class runs owed a little to his education in batting as a Lancashire League pro. At the end of the 1986 League campaign Burnley finished fourth and Lowerhouse a respectable seventh. Both Mudasser Nazar and Tony Dodemaide have continued an involvement in cricket after their playing days were over. Mud had 2 spells as coach to the Pakistani Test squad and has also coached the national team of Kenya. He still lives in Bolton. Dodemaide is back home in Melbourne as Chief Executive of Cricket Victoria. Previously he had worked for the M.C.C. at Lords, and spent 3 years as the supremo of cricket in Perth, Western Australia. To sum up, two great ambassadors of the sport and two fantastic Lancashire League professionals and gentlemen.