Ernest Hayes: Brass in a Golden Age
Written by Keith Booth
When Ernest Hayes died in 1953 local papers cheerfully announced ‘HAYES OF HOBBS, ‘AYWARD AND ‘AYES’ IS DEAD’. Historians have been kinder to his famous contemporaries, Jack Hobbs and Tom Hayward, but Hayes was one of many intelligent, down-to-earth professionals who underpinned the carefree amateurism of cricket’s ‘Golden Age’.
He played first-class matches in four decades, taking part in well over 500 matches, scored a thousand runs in sixteen seasons and secured over 500 wickets. He was an outstanding slip fielder, many of his 607 catches coming off the speed merchants of his day. He won five Test caps and toured South Africa, Australia and the West Indies.
Hayes kept scrapbooks of his achievements. Using this remarkable material, award-winning author Keith Booth tells a tale which starts in the Old Kent Road and follows a man who became a commissioned officer in the Great War, who was wounded in action and was awarded an MBE. When his playing days were over, he became a respected coach at Leicester and played first-class cricket there when 49, before returning to coach at The Oval. A man of great energy, he was still ‘in harness’ at his South London pub when he was 77.