1962: A trip down Lowerhouse Lane

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 Oswaldtwistle 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 Oswaldtwistle 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.


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