Hampshire Cricket History

A Special Memory
October 31, 2016, 3:10 pm
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I never saw much of Vic but for my first five or six years supporting Hampshire this was one of my favourite sights – maybe 11.25 on a Saturday morning, Roy and Jimmy opening at Pompey in the sunshine, anticipating that an hour later we might be 60-0 with Marshall already past 40 …

Those boys are a bit older than me – I reckon this is about 1956/7 – but I was soon to join the queue!

Jimmy Gray
October 31, 2016, 3:01 pm
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Jimmy Gray who has died aged 90 was one of the finest of all Hampshire’s native cricketers. He was born in Southampton in 1926 and was educated at the city’s King Edward VI Grammar School, although evacuated to Poole during the war. While there, he took up football and after some local success was taken onto the staff at Arsenal along with other cricketers including his friend Arthur Milton, the Compton brothers and the Hampshire wicket-keeper Ralph Prouton.

He spent four years at Highbury without a first-team appearance and eventually played with Bedford and Salisbury before concentrating on cricket. He played for the leading Southampton club side Deanery and in 1948 Hampshire played two first-class non-Championship matches at Aldershot, giving debuts to Derek Shackleton and Jimmy Gray – choices that would pay significant dividends, not least in 1961.

Derek Shackleton enjoyed immediate and sustained success but the early years were tougher for Jimmy Gray. From 1948-1950 he managed just two half-centuries and an average under 20, but in 1951 he broke into the side with 1,332 runs at 34.15 and the award of his county cap. He then reached four figures in every season up to and including 1963 when he moved into school-teaching and played only part-time for a few years. In three particularly fine seasons, the gloriously sunny 1959, the title-winning 1961 and again in 1962 he passed 2,000 runs and in the first and last of those averaged above 40.

In 1955 he formed an opening partnership with West Indian Roy Marshall which was one foundation of Hampshire’s successes in 1955 (3rd), 1958 (2nd) and 1961 (Champions). Gray’s correct English style was the perfect foil to Marshall’s brilliance and Jimmy was also a highly intelligent if sometimes cautious thinker about the game.

Jimmy scored 30 centuries for Hampshire during a period when bowlers frequently dominated the county game. His best was 213* v Derbyshire at Portsmouth in 1962 and two years earlier he and Marshall set the Hampshire opening partnership record v Middlesex on the same ground. Jimmy’s career aggregate of 22,450 runs is the fourth highest for Hampshire, behind three Test players and the highest by a Hampshire-born player.

If this was not enough, he was a useful close-to-the-wicket fielder with 350 catches but even more significantly an effective medium-pace bowler. His 451 first-class wickets (at 30 each) is almost certainly more than any player will achieve in the future. In 1952 he took 7-56 against Nottinghamshire at Bournemouth and three years later 7-52 v Glamorgan at Swansea. He played in just six limited-overs matches but had he been ten years younger, his all-round abilities might have made him very effective in the shorter format.

Jimmy’s benefit realised £4,350. He taught at Stroud School, Romsey and became Deputy Headteacher – there was perhaps always something of that about him as a cricketer who was always immaculately turned out. After retiring from teaching, he and Peter Sainsbury took over the ‘Hampshire’ sports business of Holt & Haskell. Having been one of the finest Hampshire cricketers he returned to ‘duty’ in the 1990s on the Committee and as Chairman of the Cricket Committee, working alongside his good friend Neville Rogers.

Gray JR driving 1.jpg

Vic Cannings
October 31, 2016, 2:06 pm
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Vic was born in April 1919, in the Hampshire village of Bighton, which tended to confuse people in his early days as he was listed sometimes as a man of Sussex! In his teens he played club cricket in north Hampshire, but then served abroad in the Palestine police so did not play county cricket until after war.

Hampshire could not afford him initially, so he joined Warwickshire and made his debut in 1947. In that first season he took 63 wickets at just under 30 apiece but he played less regularly in the next two seasons. Hampshire’s veteran pace bowlers Herman and Heath had no obvious replacements and Hampshire, seeking a partner for the promising Derek Shackleton, approached Vic.

He came back to Hampshire in 1950 just after his 31st birthday and took 83 wickets at under 25 each in that first season. He and ‘Shack’ bowled together for the first time at Lord’s, dismissing Middlesex for 103 and Vic’s dismissal of Denis Compton was the first of a number of times, such that the great DCS Compton became known as Vic’s ‘rabbit’. In 1952, ‘Shack’ and Vic bowled unchanged in both innings in a victory at Southampton over their traditional Whitsun opponents Kent – in the first innings Vic also held three gully catches as Kent were dismissed for 32.

The two formed a fine opening partnership through the 1950s, as Hampshire finished 3rd (1955) and 2nd (1958) for the first time ever. He took 100 wickets in four consecutive seasons, 1951-1954 and his 94 wickets in the wonderful 1955 season cost just 17.64 each and an economy rate barely above two runs per over. His batting was less remarkable with a career average of around 10 and one half-century (for Warwickshire) but in 1950 he and Charlie Knott steered Hampshire from 131-9 to 152 all out and a tie with Kent. Extraordinarily in 1955 at Eastbourne, Vic and Peter Sainsbury came together at 84-8 with Hampshire chasing 140 for victory. The ninth wicket pair brought the scores level, at which point Sussex took two wickets without addition and Hampshire recorded the third (of four) ties in their history with Vic’s dismissal twice enabling that result.

In 1953 he had the odd record of being the only bowler to dismiss the Australian’s Bill Johnston. Vic was fond of last-minute thrills. In 1955 he had Kent’s Doug Wright lbw from the last ball to win the match, and against Oxford University one year later, Hampshire won by one run when Vic took two wickets with the last two balls of the match.

Vic was capped very soon on returning to Hampshire and having been similarly rewarded by Warwickshire, he added a third later with Buckinghamshire in Minor Counties cricket. In all he took 834 first-class wickets for Hampshire in ten seasons at an average of 21.68 – all after his 30th birthday.

He took his benefit in 1959 (£3,787) then retired and coached at Eton for many years (John Barclay has written of being coached by him). At 97 he was the second oldest living Hampshire cricketer (after centurion John Manners).


Vic bowls v Northants at Portsmouth. The non-striker is Frank Tyson


Jimmy Gray RIP
October 31, 2016, 1:26 pm
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One of the saddest days in Hampshire’s cricketing history – Jimmy, another of the Champions has also died. Again, a full obituary will follow

Vic Cannings RIP
October 31, 2016, 11:00 am
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I am very sorry to report the death of Vic Cannings – I’ve just heard from Terry Crump. He took 5-57 on the first day’s cricket I ever saw (v Surrey at Portsmouth) in his final season of 1959, including Ken Barrington and Tony Lock both ct Harrison b Cannings.

I’m about to go out, but will produce a full obituary later.


Lovely plus +++
October 30, 2016, 9:17 am
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This Test Match is fabulous! They might not be the best 22 players in the world and the pitch is a bit dodgy, but stick all that into the mix and Hah!! It’s almost as exciting as Bake Off. I wonder how many millions are watching?

PS I posted this as Cook survived a review at 109-2. It’s now 132-5 so …. Can there be another twist or are Bangladesh poised to make history?

PPS A little while later, we have the answers: no there can’t, and yes they are.

In the post-match ceremony, Mr Graves took his place alongside the beaming home ‘bosses’. He’s well-named really; ‘In affectionate remembrance of English spin-bowling and batsmen who can’t play it’ – still not to worry Colin, there’s Brass along with the Muck in the White Ball stuff.

October 29, 2016, 7:52 am
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Why I love first-class cricket – England who were 144-8 now lead Bangladesh who were 171-1. Enthralling and absolutely no idea who might win

I fancy a tie!

Friday on my mind
October 28, 2016, 10:28 am
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There is a story in today’s Times that the early season Championship matches will begin on Fridays. This is clearly a good idea since it prevents supporters becoming complacent about the season’s fixtures

I’m thinking about writing a book about county cricket called Forever Changes. What do you think?

Meanwhile overseas, England fought back amazingly well today with the ball, but Ballance has just gone and once again the specialist batsmen fail against  spin. Duckett was out for seven in just five balls which might be a record for a Test opener! It feels like the spirit of Milburn – except he doesn’t get scores (yet?).

David Turner
October 28, 2016, 8:02 am
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Left-handed batsman David Turner was with Hampshire for 24 consecutive seasons, the longest by any post-war cricketer and – if you include the break for war in the careers of Phil Mead and contemporaries – the longest ‘unbroken’ in our history.

He was a promising schoolboy cricketer in his native Wiltshire, and pursued by a few counties chose Hampshire. He made his debut at Bournemouth in 1966 when just 17 although it took him some years to establish himself.

Turner DR sig.JPG

In late 1969 at the Oval he hit Surrey for 181* and still only 20, had a promising future. In 1972 he hit a marvellous century against the Australians who thought he would play for England and as a fine outfielder he was invited to be 12th man in a Test v West Indies in 1973. He suffered an eye injury however in a match v Gloucs and his career never quite reached the heights necessary to compete with a generally strong England batting line-up.

Nonetheless, through the years he contributed to a number of Hampshire’s successes and he is the only man to have won a County Championship, Sunday League and Lord’s Final with the county. As his career approached its conclusion, it was fitting perhaps that he was with his captain at the wicket when Hampshire won that first Final in 1988. In the previous year, at 38, he had averaged almost 50 in first-class cricket including 184* v Gloucs.

After retiring, he went home to Wiltshire and took over from his father in the family business, repairing shoes. He often attends our reunions.

Not very pretty
October 28, 2016, 7:45 am
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Thanks to Paul for spotting this. Whatever you think about the decision, it suggests that the decision-making process and its communication was less than ‘perfect’