Hampshire Cricket History

Leo (Part Three)
October 12, 2016, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The next bit will follow tomorrow

At the start of the 1951 season, Leo’s career batting average was just 13.24 although writing in the Hampshire Handbook, Eagar described his ground fielding and that of Alan Rayment as “outstanding”. Having acknowledged the problems with his eyesight, Leo began playing in glasses. Blake (8) and Prouton (5) played a few matches, but Leo in 30 appearances passed 1,000 runs for the first time, including his first two centuries and an average of 30.48. It was McCorkell’s last season and with Jimmy Gray also passing 1,000 runs and Derek Shackleton taking 123 wickets, a team was taking shape that 10 years later would bring the greatest glory to the county. Leo was awarded his county cap.

He passed 1,000 runs again in 1952 with three more centuries including what would be his highest first-class score of 153 v Nottinghamshire at Bournemouth. Ralph Prouton had a long run in the side as wicketkeeper and David Blake replaced him occasionally when free from his work as a Portsmouth Dentist. There was an odd period in August when in four consecutive matches Hampshire’s wicketkeeper was respectively Blake, Prouton, Harrison and Prouton – with the young Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie also in the side. After this Prouton played regularly again and he retained the gloves again in 1953, with the occasional appearance by Blake until late July when Leo took over in a narrow win against Nottinghamshire at Bournemouth. He stayed there for most of the remaining games until Blake ‘kept’ in the last three matches. It seemed that Eagar was still not certain who should replace McCorkell.

But then we came to the key season of 1954. Blake played four times but Prouton not at all, while Roy Marshall spent his last season qualifying to play in the Championship and Horton, Barnard, Sainsbury, Burden and Malcolm Heath all began to establish themselves alongside Gray, Shackleton and the – at last – regular wicketkeeper Leo Harrison. The core of the title-winning side was emerging and in 1955 they would reach the highest position in the club’s history.


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