Hampshire Cricket History


Leo (Part Four)
October 13, 2016, 7:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

In 1955 Hampshire used just 13 players with the exception of one appearance by Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie. He kept wicket against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in mid-July but this was not another display of uncertainty about Hampshire’s preferred ‘keeper, it was because Leo was appearing for the Players v Gentlemen at Lord’s – in those days, a prestigious event.

Otherwise Leo, now batting in the lower middle order contributed 480 runs plus 43 catches and 10 stumpings. Meanwhile Hampshire, with Roy Marshall scoring 1,890 runs and 21-year-old Peter Sainsbury taking 102 wickets finished in third place for the first time in their history. This may not seem like a major achievement in these days when supporters seem to demand success but it was almost unimaginable then and the whole of Hampshire celebrated as they finished below only the two great sides, Surrey and Yorkshire – and having beaten both during the year. It was a triumph for Eagar as he saw his twin dream of a fine fielding side built around Hampshire-born players pay dividends.

Hampshire dropped back slightly in the following ‘Ashes’ summer – Laker’s year – although at any other time, their sixth place would too have been considered a significant achievement. Leo was firmly established now although batting in the lower middle-order would never again come close to 1,000 runs and only once would manage an average above 20. These figures must be seen however in the context of the 1950s, the decade of the bowler when some of England’s finest fast-medium and slow bowlers exploited the conditions of uncovered wicket and a wide variety of outgrounds. The averages of leading bowlers and batsmen bear merit comparison with today to show the transformation of English first-class cricket over the past fifty years.

1957 was a season of significant change at Hampshire as Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie gradually took over the captaincy from Desmond Eagar who moved permanently into the club’s offices as their secretary at the season’s end. Leo had managed 14 stumpings in 1956 but that reduced to just four in 1957, reflecting the dominance of the three quicker bowlers, Shackleton, Cannings and Heath, who with Jimmy Gray’s medium pace took over 300 wickets. Hampshire slipped to 13th but the arrival of the new captain would have an immediate impact in his first full season in charge.

In 1955 the young Hampshire side were thrilled to finish third. In 1958, maturing and approaching their peak, they were disappointed to be runners-up to Surrey who clinched the title for the third time. With Roy Marshall leading the batting, Shackleton again taking more than 150 wickets and Malcolm Heath enjoying his great year with 126 wickets, Hampshire found themselves in pole position in early August but won just one of their last eight matches. The nadir was at Burton-on-Trent on the kind of pitch that would be outlawed today. Malcolm Heath took 13-87 in the match as Derbyshire were dismissed for 74 & 107, yet they won by 103 runs; Hampshire, all out 23 & 55 (Leo 2* and nought)

1958 was a very wet summer; 1959 by contrast was glorious. Hampshire challenged throughout but after two consecutive victories were unable to win any of their last four games and finished eighth – nonetheless again in the top half of the table. Leo excelled himself, setting a Hampshire wicket-keeping record with 76 catches and seven stumpings and he passed 500 runs and his 37th birthday.

(Final part to follow later today)

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/37643634 – I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but I don’t think Rod follows your blog!

Comment by HedgeEndHero

Dave, many thanks for your biography of Leo which was very interesting to me as someone who was too young to remember his playing days.

With regard to your comment about Leo’s Cricket Archive page it now seems to have re-appeared.
http://cricketarchive.com/Players/6/6646/6646.html

(Perhaps it temporarily disappeared due to other linked records being updated to record his passing?).

Comment by James1414

Thanks James – glad you liked it (up to date now). I found it again this morning and you’re probably right – I’d like to think it crashed from people checking; he was a fabulous fellow!

Comment by pompeypop




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