Hampshire Cricket History

Frank Parr RIP
May 16, 2012, 11:48 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This site is about HAMPSHIRE Cricket but just occasionally something from over the border warrants a mention.

Top picture is Frank Parr, trombonist with the Mick Mulligan Band (+ George Melly). Below that Lancashire CCC 1953 with the same Frank Parr 3rd from left back row.

Frank has just died – almost 84. I was too young to see him play cricket or 1950s jazz although I know people from cricket who knew him. Nonetheless he always seemd to me to be just about perfect – not merely because he played jazz and cricket but because of who he was.

When he kept wicket in that team above he was reckoned to be a very fine player indeed – The Times tipped him to play for England. In 1952/3, his captain Nigel Howard (centre front) was easy-going and picked him. But when the sergeant-major Cyril Washbrook (seated second left) took over everything changed and Parr lost his place. Why? Because he was one of the very few (only?) ‘bohemians’ in county cricket and Washbrook hated his scruffy appearance and laid-back manner. He played three matches against Hampshire, in Portsmouth (1952), Manchester (1953) and Liverpool (1954).

At that time he played trombone in Liverpool with the Merseysippi Jazz band but after five games with Lancashire in 1954 Washbrook dropped him. Worcestershire were interested in signing him but Washbrook went so far as to write to them warning that Parr “can be a grave social risk” and that was the end for him as a cricketer. Instead he moved to London and found like-minded individuals in the Mulligan band – the story of that band told brilliantly by Melly in Owning Up. 

He remained a bohemian to the end and God bless him for it! RIP Frank.

2 Comments so far
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Brilliant obituary in The Independent today by Stephen Chalke in much the same vein, with the addition of some funny stories.

Comment by Peter Jeffs

Understandably, there’s a lot of criticism of Washbrook’s attitude and the fact that he stimied Parr’s transfer to Worcestershire. But I can’t regret this, as a Worcs follower, because we got Roy Booth instead.

Comment by Graham Llewellyn

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