Hampshire Cricket History

Happy Anniversary!
July 30, 2016, 7:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Today marks a double sporting celebration from this precise day 50 years ago. Firstly, it was the day on which cricket commentaries were launched by Southampton Hospital Broadcasting Association and they have continued to this day (well last night to be precise) covering all Hampshire’s home matches ball-by-ball.

On that first Saturday afternoon at Southampton, 30 July 1966, the crowd wasn’t huge – I’m told there was an alternative attraction on TV featuring an Essex cricketer – but something rather interesting happened. It actually started a few weeks earlier in a match v Worcestershire at Portsmouth when Hampshire arrived without Shackleton who was injured. I’m not making this up, young ‘Shack’, approaching his 42nd birthday, wasn’t fit to play and Hampshire were playing on the quickest pitch in the country at Portsmouth against a strong Worcestershire side. What to do?

Leo Harrison had been looking after the 2nd XI that year including Alan Castell who had shown so much promise a few years earlier as a leg-spinner but had rather lost his way. He hadn’t played in any of the first team’s games all season but Leo suggested he could bowl seam up. Alan recalls that they checked him out in the nets – even producing a new ball – and he was in the side on the morning of Saturday 2 July. ‘Butch’ White (1-72), Bob Cottam (0-58) and Jimmy Gray (0-13) all had a ‘go’ before Alan, while Horton & Fearnley took Worcs to 86 before he struck; Fearnley c Wheatley b Castell 40. This was his chance, and when Worcs declared on 283-8 Alan Castell, seam bowler, had figures of 27-4-69-6 – and what’s more, he was the catcher for the two other wickets. Hampshire struggled in a rain-affected game but held on for a draw with nine wickets down, just 61 runs ahead.

Over the next few weeks, Castell held his place with a few wickets here-and-there (3-79 at Edgbaston, 3-53 at Kettering) then came today’s anniversary and a meeting with Derbyshire at Southampton. The visitors batted, perhaps hoping some at least could watch TV that afternoon, and it was perhaps appropriate that their top-scorer was footballer Ian Hall (62) but the star of the day was Castell again, first-change now and taking 6-49 in his 27 overs. On day two he scored a useful 24 as Hampshire sneaked ahead by one run but again rain won the day. Nonetheless, Hampshire had unearthed a new pace bowler from an unexpected source. He finished the season with 36 wickets at 22.55 and the only sad aspect is that after more than a decade and more than 100 first-class matches, Alan Castell left Hampshire without ever receiving his county cap. He’ll be back next week for the annual reunion.

Castell A z




6 Comments so far
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I well remember watching Alan Castell at Dean Park in I think 1962 take a lot of wickets in his youthful leg-spinning days. 10 wickets + in the match from memory. I thought, we all thought, that Hampshire had uncovered a future champion. But the 60s were very unkind to leg-spinners.

Comment by Ian Laidlaw

I remember Alan Castell, but did not know about his change of action. Thanks Dave.

Comment by Dave Pople

I hope you guys will forgive me – I’ve used a version of this in next week’s Round Up as a way of welcoming the former players to their reunion on Friday. Alan has had a bit of a tough year and I thought he could do with cheering up, as we do send Round Ups to the reunion (in the Warne stand I think)

Comment by pompeypop

Alan Castell was a wonderful character. I remember from my teenage days at Dean Park in the 60s one incident when Hampshire were batting in poor light – appeals against the light (does anyone remember them?) had been dismissed by the umpires. Alan came out to bat in the middle of a collapse, carrying a torch and pretending to have difficulty finding the wicket! There was much laughter all round – in the event, if I remember correctly, it rained shortly afterwards. He also had a party trick, while fielding or even running in to bowl, of instantaneously falling to the ground and lying motionless if a car backfired nearby – not an uncommon event in those days. (On another occasion, less happily, I remember he had his car stolen from outside Dean Park during a game. I don’t know if he ever got it back). Cricket is a serious business now but it is always nice if players show a bit of humour from time to time.

Comment by Tim Driscoll

An early memory at DP was a brilliant partnership between Alan Castell and Roy Marshall in a match v Surrey (1970 the cricket archive informs), which Hampshire nearly rescued. Three day cricket at its best.

Comment by StephenFH

So if things don’t work out for young Mason there is an alternative career path for him. Mind you he will need to eat some extra Shredded Wheat for his breakfast!

Comment by James

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