Hampshire Cricket History

Philander – the new ‘Shack’
July 8, 2017, 7:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

OK that’s enough excitement. Put those fireworks away and let’s get down to a serious conversation. Consider this photo:

Shackleton D 1948-1969

I wonder if that’s perfection?

I’ve watched and read quite a bit about the first two days of the Test Match. Quite a few former players as pundits remarked that Philander is not express pace but gets close to the stumps, bowls accurately and has a wrist that allows him to get a bit of movement here-and-there off the pitch. Sky showed stats of his Test bowling average and he’s in second place in international cricket since his debut.

Now ‘Shack’ didn’t make a success of Test cricket although he was very much in-and-out and had one fine morning at Lord’s. But he was arguably the greatest Championship bowler ever – and beyond argument surely, for Hampshire.

People wonder whether his record was a consequence of him bowling on uncovered pitches particularly in the 1950s which was the bowler-friendly decade (check the averages). I don’t think there’s much doubt that he was helped by those conditions and by matches on many outgrounds. I don’t suppose he bowled on many ‘shirt fronts’ like that at the Oval this week (a very bad pitch?).

So it was that in the soggy ‘summer’ of 1958, as Hampshire finished runners-up, he took 165 wickets at 15.44. But he didn’t always bowl on uncovered pitches in damp conditions. For a few years, from 1959 there was an experiment with covered pitches and ‘Shack’ really struggled! In the blazing hot summer of 1959 he managed just 148 wickets at 21.55, in 1960 130 wickets at 17.69 and in 1961 158 wickets at 19.09.

In other words, whatever the conditions he took wickets – in the end 2,857 at 18.65, before retiring in 1968, at the age of 44, with 109 wickets at 17.32 – although he was brought back for one match v Sussex the following year and took 5-58! He also bowled through that first season of the Sunday League.

People say he was slow, but it depends when you saw him. In that summer of 1959, he was the same age as Jimmy Anderson is now – and people keep wondering when Jimmy will retire. Shack had another ten years in him, which was the ten years when I saw him. It seems to me he had those same attributes that people are noting with Philander – and I’m very glad indeed that I was there to see it. Incidentally try holding that right arm position in the photo – it makes my forearm ache, but you can see there the ‘leggie’ turned pace bowler. Bless him!


9 Comments so far
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I forgot to mention that in 1973, approaching his 48th birthday, he played a first round Gillette Cup match for Dorset v Staffs. His team were stuffed, but coming in at number 11 ‘Shack’ was second top scorer with 18*, which followed his bowling figures of 12-8-11-4. Not bad for an ‘old un’?

Comment by pompeypop

I remember him pretty well. My Grandad and Dad used to take me to Northlands Road in the early 60’s. He was a great bowler but how do you compare him with say, Malcolm Marshall. Both had similar CC averages. Roberts has the best CC average with Abbott in 4th. They are the only 4 with a CC average under 20.

Comment by Tigger MIles

In the Championship I’d go beyond averages, although they are certainly indicative of value over long periods. Marshall was the finest bowler I’ve ever seen at Hampshire – possibly the finest anywhere – and a fine county man, but ‘Shack did it for 20 consecutive seasons which is why I said what I did. Roberts was perhaps the finest, most fearsome of them all, for that one season in 1974, but it was a short career with us that ended very badly. I’m also mindful that no one can now remember Kennedy who was obviously terrific.

All of this is however, no more than an opinion, which I’m not supposed to have any more, but if it elicits responses/discussions then that’s fine, so cheers Tigger.

Comment by pompeypop

Bob Cottam wasn’t far behind @ 20.71. He was a very fine all round bowler who learnt to bowl on spinners’ wickets, by bowling cutters. He was, of course, a contemporary of Shack and assumed his mantle when Shack finally left the scene. His average for Northants was 20.23. A largely forgotten bowler now, but I still remember him vividly. Incidentally, when Shack visited HCS with his biographer, David Matthews, I noticed he possessed abnormally long spindly fingers. Little wonder he was so good at controlling the ball and bending it to his will.

Comment by Alan Edwards

Cottam’s a very good nomination Alan. I’ve said frequently that Hampshire’s mid-60s pace attack was their finest ever – not just three England bowlers, but all three very different in styles.

Shackleton (8-71), White (6-19), & Cottam (6-47) dismissed Yorkshire at Middlesborough in 1965 for 121 & 23 – and Yorkshire had nine England cricketers, including the top seven. Yet for various reasons these were not particularly successful years for Hampshire.

Comment by pompeypop

Can remember seeing the three of them play in the first Sunday League game at DP in 1969, Shackleton economy rate 1.38.

Maybe opening bowlers should be judged within a pairing in which case post 1970 Herman/Mottram in 1973, even if their careers numbers were not so good and they were helped a lot by the catching.

Butch White I remember smoked a pipe and the tea interval was time for a puff. How different the different eras are!

Comment by stephenfh

Stephen makes a good point about pairings. Malcolm Marshall had one of the best first-change bowlers in our history to help him – Tim Tremlett – but apart from one year with Kevin Emery, he rarely had an effective opening partner. To a large extent, Cardigan Connor was at his best in Malcolm’s later years and after he had left. Abbott this year seems to me to have been terrific, although of course I’ve hardly seen him live.

Comment by pompeypop

Ah real cricket.

I have always thought Hampshire have had the best fast bowler of all time (Marshall) the best spin bowler of all time (Warne – I don’t count chuckers) and arguably the second best batsman of all time (Richards).

I think you could make a case for us having had the greatest Championship bowler of all time (Shack) and the greatest Championship batsman of all time (Mead) when you consider consistent top-class performances although the likes of Hobbs, Rhodes and Freeman would push them close.

Of all the cricketers I wish I had seen live Shack tops the list.

Comment by James

Good thoughts James. My thoughts about ‘Shack’ as the top Championship bowler were derived from an assumption that many greater bowlers bowled in the Championship (from Wilfred Rhodes to Malcolm Marshall etc) but they were international class and bowled less ‘exclusively’ in county cricket. My other argument would be that Rhodes, say, came into a supreme side and bowled as a member of such. Shack joined a very weak Hampshire side, barely a top half finish for twenty years, and he and Roy Marshall led the way as we became (1955-1961) the best side in our history and one of the best in the country. So context counts significantly for me.

But I might be wrong …

Comment by pompeypop

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