Hampshire Cricket History


Leo (Part Two)
October 12, 2016, 12:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

In 1946, the new Hampshire captain Desmond Eagar inherited an ageing group of players and he set about creating a new Hampshire side, not least from promising local cricketers. Leo Harrison was one of those although it took him some years and a good deal of patience to become a firm choice in the side. His 13 innings for Hampshire in 1946 brought just 100 runs but in the following year he doubled his average and passed 500 runs, including two half-centuries in the match v Essex at Bournemouth – despite which Hampshire lost by an innings – and a best of 61* in his final innings of the year against Yorkshire.

This was promising, but in 1948 despite 20 first-class matches he scored just 240 runs at an average below 10 each innings. Hampshire’s wicketkeeper Neil McCorkell was 36, approaching the latter years of his career, and appeared in just 13 matches, so Eagar gave a few games behind the stumps to the amateur Jack Andrews – brother of Somerset bowler Bill – and Leo. Wisden, despite the disappointment with his batting, recorded that “in the absence of McCorkell, Harrison proved a capable wicketkeeper”.

Hampshire remained one of the weaker county sides. They had finished a respectable 10th in 1946, but across 16 consecutive seasons from 1933-1954 they were always in the bottom half of the table. In 1949, only Leicestershire kept them from last place and Leo managed a highest innings of just 24* and played in fewer matches than another amateur wicketkeeper David Blake while McCorkell with 1,871 runs topped the batting averages. In addition, another young professional ‘keeper, Ralph Prouton made his debut.

In 1950, Leo kept wicket just once against the University side at Fenner’s, where he watched Dewes (101), Stevenson (109) and Peter May (227*) take the undergraduates to 467-3 declared – including a wicket for Neil McCorkell! In matches as a batsman, Leo averaged under 10 runs each innings with a best score of just 39 and having passed his 28th birthday, his future was uncertain, although he drew accolades for his ground fielding in the famous Saturday against the West Indians who had just beaten England at Lord’s. Some of the shots will have been by the young tourist Roy Marshall, with his first innings and first century at the county ground.

(TBC)

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