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Lives in Cricket

Reverend ES Carter: A Yorkshire Cricketing Cleric

by Anthony Bradbury

The Rev Edmund Carter introduced the great Lord Hawke to Yorkshire cricket. Although he played only a handful of first-class matches for Yorkshire, he played the game for Oxford University in the 1860s, in Victoria as a young man, and in West London, before the bulk of his life’s work as a clergyman in the shadow of York Minster.

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Tom Emmett: The Spirit of Yorkshire Cricket

by Jeremy Lonsdale

Lord Hawke called Tom Emmett ‘the greatest “character” who ever stepped onto the field’. In the 1860s, he once took 16 wickets for Yorkshire in an afternoon. In the 1870s, only one other player scored over 4,000 runs and took over 400 wickets in English cricket: WG Grace. Emmett had his best ever season with the ball in the 1880s, aged nearly 45. In all first-class cricket, he took over 1,500 wickets at under 14, bowling in an idiosyncratic style which included wides and balls ‘which no man had ever seen or dreamed of before’.

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Enid Bakewell: Coalminer's Daughter

by Simon Sweetman

Enid Bakewell, one of England’s most successful and distinguished women cricketers, was the first women player to have an article about her in Wisden, in 1970, after an outstanding tour of Australasia. She is now the first female subject in the ACS Lives in Cricket series.

Simon Sweetman takes us through Enid’s playing career as an all-rounder and off the field as teacher and coach; and daughter, wife and mother. Articulate, approachable and a woman with firm roots in Nottinghamshire who has made friends across the world, she and her generation were true pioneers: when playing for the first time at Lord’s, they didn’t know if women would be allowed into the changing rooms.

Will she manage to play until she’s 80? Do not bet against it.

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Brian Sellers: Yorkshire Tyrant

By Mark Rowe

Brian Sellers, the ‘most successful county captain of all time’ (Wisden 1940) led a great Yorkshire team: among those who played under him were Herbert Sutcliffe, Bill Bowes, Hedley Verity and later Leonard Hutton. Having established his authority, he urged his men to win matches. That led to six Championships in eight seasons to 1939, and the first post-war Championship in 1946. Sellers went on to serve in Yorkshire and MCC administration and helped make decisions – Yorkshire’s sacking of Johnny Wardle in 1958, the start of one-day county cricket in 1963. Did he turn dangerously tyrannical? The outcry after the sacking of Brian Close in 1970 – and the equally fateful choice of Geoffrey Boycott as captain – suggested he did. Sellers, feared and foul-mouthed, gave his life to Yorkshire cricket, and his body to Leeds Medical School.

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George Raikes: ‘Muscular Christianity?’

By Stephen Musk

Stephen Musk, the author of two previous ‘Lives in Cricket’ (Michael Falcon and Lionel Robinson) has made it a trio of Norfolk-related biographies. As in his earlier books, Stephen shows his mastery of the sources to link the man to his age and to reveal a man of many parts: Raikes kept goal for Oxford University and England at football before becoming a vicar and an early googly bowler. In his cricket career, Raikes captained his county to two pre-1914 Minor County Championships.

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Lionel Palairet: Stylist ‘Par Excellence’

By Darren Senior

Lionel Palairet made 15,777 career runs and was the first great batsman for Somerset, for whom he scored all of his 27 first-class centuries. His father, five times archery champion of England, was instrumental in Somerset becoming a first-class county. Lionel was well educated and a stylish batsman. This book shows a private family man, well-respected and a good organiser; whose contributions particularly to cricket and golf have gone unnoticed.

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Brief Candles 2: More One-Match Wonders

By Keith Walmsley

This second volume of Brief Candles once again looks at the lives, in and out of cricket, of a batch of players who flickered only briefly on the first-class scene.

Most earn their inclusion because of an unusual achievement that they recorded during their brief careers at that level. So you can read here about the five cricketers who played an innings in the 90s in their debut game, and the five who shared in century partnerships on debut when batting at No. 11 – and yet none of them was ever picked again.

Others are included because of something that happened to them during their one and only first-class match – like the three cricketers who were no-balled for throwing on their debuts, whereupon they disappeared from the first-class game altogether.

Another two earn their appearance because of a pair of unhappy coincidences: though unrelated they shared the same unusual surname, and both met their deaths in the most tragic of circumstances.

And finally there’s the clergyman who played his only first-class match when just six months short of his 60th birthday.

Brief Candles 2 explores the lives of these and some others who deserve to be better remembered for their unusual, if very short, contributions to the history of the first-class game.

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John Jackson: The Nottinghamshire Foghorn

By Gerald Hudd

John Jackson was noticed at an early age by William Clarke after moving from his native Suffolk to Wellow in Nottinghamshire. He soon became an integral part of the Nottinghamshire and All-England Elevens. Bowling fast round-arm – his pace was described as ‘fearful’ – he took wickets by the dozen all over the country as well as on tours of North America in 1859 and Australia and New Zealand in 1863/64.

Injury brought his career to a gradual close during the late 1860s. Having no qualifications of any kind, Jackson had nothing to fall back on after his playing
days had finished. The once great fast bowler ended his days in a Liverpool workhouse in 1901.

Gerald Hudd charts the life of this great bowler who in a later era would undoubtedly have had a highly successful career in Test cricket and who might have had a more dignified old age.

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Norman Yardley: Yorkshire's Gentleman Player

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By Martin Howe

In today’s world, when cricket is driven by commercial considerations and the true spirit of the game is easily lost in a win at all costs attitude, it is refreshing to have a biography of a man who respected cricket’s traditions and played the game for the joy of it. Such a man was Norman Yardley, a fine all-round cricketer who scored over 18,000 runs, took almost 300 wickets in his first-class career, and, as an amateur, was a natural choice to captain England and Yorkshire after the War.

A knowledgeable and astute captain, nevertheless some Yardley lacked the ruthlessness of a Bradman and was not hard enough on some of the rebellious characters in the Yorkshire dressing room. But if his record as captain was disappointing, this was more to do with the strength of the opponents than any shortcomings of his own.

Martin Howe’s biography covers not just Yardley’s cricket career but also his life in business, journalism and broadcasting and his committee work for Yorkshire CCC. No one had an unkind word to say about Norman Yardley. His personal qualities shone through in all he did on and off the cricket field. He was indeed Yorkshire’s gentleman cricketer.

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Alec Watson: Chucker?

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By Duncan McLeish

There have been doubts raised about certain features of Alec Watson’s life story. Firstly, about the date and place of his birth; investigation into the former confirmed the date generally accepted, but enquiries into the latter threw up a number of problems. The author’s investigations suggest a place of birth not even mentioned before.

Secondly, there were certainly doubts about the legality of Watson’s bowling action: was he a ‘chucker’? The author considers the arguments and sources on this, and suggests what he hopes is a fair conclusion.

There were no doubts about Watson’s success; the facts and figures contained herein speak for themselves. Nor is there any doubt about his successful career on the fringes of cricket: as groundsman at Old Trafford; as a cricket coach to clubs and schools; and as a progressive sports outfitter with three shops in central Manchester, and a big house on its outskirts.

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Tom Richardson: A Bowler Pure and Simple

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By Keith Booth

Tom Richardson’s life began in a gypsy caravan and was ended by his own hand. So runs the popular mythology on the man who was probably the greatest fast bowler of his own generation and possibly of any. The research of Keith and Jennifer Booth has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that neither myth is true and casts new light on the circumstances of his death.

Although there have been a number of profiles and copious mentions of Richardson in cricket literature and his statistical achievements have been well documented, there has not until now been a full-scale biography.

Most sources mention his early – and indeed life-long – association with Mitcham Cricket Club. None refers to his significant involvement, after his marriage, with Surrey’s other main ‘feeder’ club, Thames Ditton.

Additionally, not so well known is the number of Richardson’s – albeit indirect – descendants who have played first-class cricket and distinguished themselves in other sporting areas.

His diary of the 1897-98 tour of Australia records a number of otherwise unreported opinions and his will provides some insight into the ‘domestic trouble’ hinted at by the press at the end of his life.

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