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Biographies of players

Lives in Cricket

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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Frank and George Mann: Brewing, Batting and Captaincy

By Brian Rendell

Father and son Frank and George Mann both captained Middlesex to the County Championship and led successful England sides on tours of South Africa. Until the takeover frenzy of the 1970s, the family’s highly successful brewery, based in East London, was a leading player in the social fabric of southern England. Mann’s Brown Ale can still be found on supermarket shelves today.

Both men served in Britain’s armed forces outside its shores. Both filled middle-order batting positions for county and country; they took catches, often painfully, at mid-off; and every so often they sent down a few deliveries to help bring a match to its conclusion. Frank’s mighty hitting emptied beer tents, sometimes to the detriment of sales of his brewery’s products. George’s management skills were brought to bear on the administration of English cricket.

Using material from a wide range of sources, Brian Rendell here brings together a story far larger than the 19,585 first-class runs they scored between them.

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Norman Yardley: Yorkshire's Gentleman Player

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?

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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Lionel Robinson: Cricket at Old Buckenham

By Stephen Musk

Lionel ‘Robby’ Robinson, Australian financier made good, settled at Old Buckenham Hall in the Norfolk countryside. There he hosted the 1912 South African tourists, the 1919 Australian Imperial Forces team, and most famously and intriguingly Warwick Armstrong’s 1921 Australians.

Former England captain Archie MacLaren ran Robinson’s cricket affairs. The ‘country house’ hospitality drew many of the notable players of the era, such as Michael Falcon, the subject of Lives in Cricket No.15. As in that book, Stephen Musk roots his story in Norfolk, and the wider world of cricket, and traces links to MacLaren’s famous win over the 1921 Australian tourists at Eastbourne.

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William Clarke: The Old General

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By Peter Wynne-Thomas

Born in Nottingham in 1798, William Clarke was an effective slow bowler of his time, hanging onto his old under-arm ways well after round-arm styles had been developed. His skill was such – he took nearly 800 wickets in first-class matches – that pamphlets were published on how to counter his wiles.

In the spring of 1846 his second marriage broke down. He left Trent Bridge and set up the All-England Eleven as a commercial enterprise, hiring the best players of the day. For ten summers his team travelled around Britain like a circus, often on the newly built railways, to play fixtures (arranged through the new Penny Post) against eighteens and twenty-twos in industrial cities and old county towns. Crowds came, and moreover paid, to watch local players take on the big names of the game.

Of course there were disputes along the way – and there can be little doubt that Clarke liked a good argument. The established elites didn’t like it, and rival Elevens grew up. He may have failed to make the fortune often alleged, but by the time he died, aged 57, cricket had become the most popular ball-game in Britain to play, watch and read about.

Peter Wynne-Thomas tells the tale of a man who, like Kerry Packer, single-handedly changed the face of the known cricket world.

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Donald Carr: Derbyshire's Corinthian

By John Shawcroft

This is the story of a man who captained Repton, Oxford University, Derbyshire and England before becoming MCC Assistant Secretary, tour manager, TCCB Secretary and an international referee. Donald Carr spent his life involved in cricket at all levels as both player and administrator.

Born into an army family stationed in Wiesbaden, Germany, he first sprang to prominence when selected for the third Victory Test in 1945. After Oxford, which he captained in 1950, he threw in his lot with Derbyshire, where he was a highly effective batsman, slow left-arm bowler and member of the renowned Derbyshire leg trap of the 1950s, as well as being captain from 1955 to 1962. He toured India in 1951/52, playing in two Tests and captaining his country when India gained their first Test victory. He was captain of the MCC A team which went to Pakistan in 1955/56, a tour which is mainly remembered for the soaking given to the Pakistani umpire, Idris Begh.

Carr was a soccer player, winning two Blues at Oxford, before becoming a member of the renowned Pegasus team which won the FA Amateur Cup in 1950/51 and 1952/53.

His career as an administrator with Derbyshire, MCC and the TCCB encompassed some of the game’s more controversial moments such as Basil D’Oliveira’s selection for England in 1968, Tony Greig’s run-out dismissal of Alvin Kallicharran, and the Packer Affair.

Using a variety of sources, John Shawcroft traces a first-class career which lasted from 1945 to 1968, during which Donald Carr scored 19,257 runs, captured 328 wickets and took 500 catches.

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Frank Mitchell: Imperial Cricketer

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By Anthony Bradbury

Frank Mitchell in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras was a shining sporting
star who dazzled all too briefly. Whilst showing great potential at cricket as a
mature undergraduate, he reached the ultimate position in rugby when still at
Cambridge in becoming captain of the England XV.

Cricket, though, was a more abiding interest. Mitchell achieved some
notoriety through his actions as captain of Cambridge in the Varsity match
of 1896, when he sought to avoid the Oxford XI having to follow-on by
instructing his bowler to bowl no balls and wides. His earlier attacking style
had already brought him, as a Yorkshireman, to the attention of Lord Hawke,
with much of his limited first-class cricket then being played for Yorkshire.
Hawke gave him a place on his tour to South Africa in 1898/99, which made
Mitchell, retrospectively, an English Test cricketer. He served with the army
during part of the Boer War and, after a wonderful season back with Yorkshire
in 1901, he emigrated to South Africa.

Working for Abe Bailey, the South African entrepreneur, led Mitchell to captain
the South African team to England in 1904 which, though playing no official
Tests, had a successful tour. Thereafter he worked as a stockbroker, but a
surprise recall as captain of the South African team for the Triangular Tour of
1912 caused more controversy.

Without much personal income, Mitchell struggled with the requirements
of amateurism, but he again joined the army in 1914, rising to the rank of
Lieutenant-Colonel. Later he made a living from the precarious tin industry
in Nigeria and from writing frequent columns for The Cricketer. Some of the
aspirations expressed in his articles would remain welcome today. Frank
Mitchell was a man of many parts, whose contributions to English and South
African sport made him for short periods a notable hero.

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Eric Rowan: The Toughest Springbok

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By Rick Smith

One of South Africa’s finest batsmen in the first half of the 20th century, Eric Rowan will always be remembered for his cocky and fiercely combative approach to every match in which he played. A highly courageous player, he was prepared to take on Lindwall and Miller at their fastest without the benefit of either gloves or box. To him the very thought of a helmet and other modern protective gear would have been anathema.

No stranger to conflict, he sat down on the pitch when a Lancashire crowd barracked him for slow scoring, was controversially omitted from South Africa’s 1947 tour of England and had his Test career ended by the South African Cricket Association for non-cricketing reasons.

Using a variety of sources and photographs from the Brian Bassano Collection, Rick Smith describes the career of this South African whose approach to cricket would have been very much at home in the modern era.

In a Test career lasting from 1935 to 1951, Eric Rowan scored 1,965 runs at an average of 43.66. In 1951, aged 42, he made 236 against England at Leeds, which was then South Africa’s highest individual score in a Test match. He is still the oldest cricketer to score a Test double-century. Durable to the end, Eric’s career ended in the 1953/54 season when he was not far short of his 45th birthday.

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A.N.Hornby: The Boss

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By Stuart Brodkin

Albert Neilson Hornby was a sporting legend, captaining England and Lancashire at cricket and England at Rugby Union. He was also a useful footballer, appearing for Blackburn Rovers, and a keen boxer and hurdler. He regularly rode to hounds and was a decent shot.

The man known as ‘Monkey’ for his diminutive size as a youngster and his hyper-active demeanour carved out one of the most durable careers in the game. For five decades he ruled the roost at Lancashire as player, captain, chairman and president. In his heyday it was said that only W.G.Grace was his superior as a batsman, and his captaincy was admired even by the Australians! He was also a brilliant fielder.

Hornby will be remembered as the captain who lost the famous Oval Test of 1882 to the Australians, a defeat which gave birth to the Ashes, and also went down in cricketing folklore as one of the central figures in Francis Thompson’s poem ‘At Lord’s’.

As a captain, he demanded the utmost loyalty from those who played under him and, in return, defended his players to the hilt, most notably when a number of Lancashire bowlers were accused of throwing. He was one of the central figures when a disputed umpiring decision led to the Sydney riot of 1879, and there were other occasions when he was not afraid to wade into a crowd of unruly spectators.

Had he been alive today, Hornby would have been the darling of the tabloids. In his lifetime, during the Golden Age of cricket, he was never far away from controversy and confrontation.

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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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