Hampshire Cricket History

Not Quite A-Z
February 25, 2018, 11:17 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve been asked to help on a new project so, out-of-order here’s a single biography which I thought some of you might enjoy:

MARSHALL, Roy Edwin (328) born Barbados 25.4.1930, died Taunton, Somerset 27.10.1992. When Roy Marshall was appointed Hampshire’s captain at the start of the 1966 season he faced two particular challenges; succeeding the charismatic Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie who had led Hampshire to their first Championship title in 1961, while taking a leading role in the transition from that ageing side to a new generation of Hampshire cricketers. In the event, he played an important role in that process since among the men who made their Hampshire debuts under his leadership, Gordon Greenidge, Trevor Jesty, David Turner, Richard Lewis, Barry Richards, Bob Stephenson (from Derbyshire), and his successor Richard Gilliat, were key players when Hampshire won the title again in 1973 – the first time in 20 years without Marshall in the side.

He had first come to Hampshire’s notice at the county ground in Southampton in 1950, when he arrived with the West Indian tourists straight from their historic Test Match victory at Lord’s. Marshall was unable to break into the side that played “Cricket Lovely Cricket” but on that Saturday, in front of a packed crowd he scored 135, and shared a century partnership with Everton Weekes; in addition to the crowd the innings made a considerable impression on Hampshire’s captain/secretary Desmond Eagar and looking to strengthen the county’s often weak batting he persuaded Marshall to turn his back on Test hopes. In the 1950s overseas cricketers could join counties but they had to qualify by residence and give up all hopes of representing their country, so it was that Marshall spent two years in the Lancashire leagues with Worsley, two further years qualifying for Hampshire with the occasional non-Championship match, until, in 1955 he could play in all the county’s matches.

Hampshire begun 1955 with a record of having finished in the top half of the Championship table just once in the previous 22 seasons – and that just eighth in 1932, but they surprised everyone, including their own supporters, by winning more matches than ever before and reaching third place for the first time in their history. At the close they were behind the ‘Big Two’, Surrey (Champions) and Yorkshire, but they beat both, and while they were significant contributions from the 13 regular players, when the captain Desmond Eagar identified the reasons for this advance he began by acknowledging that “undoubtedly Roy Marshall had much to do with it”, through the number of his runs, the way he scored them “so attractively” and the “confidence” that he brought to the rest of the side.

This approach would continue throughout his career. In 18 seasons, he scored 60 centuries for Hampshire with a best of 228* v the Pakistanis at Bournemouth in 1962, and in exceeding 30,000 first class runs, is second only to the great Phil Mead in the list of Hampshire’s highest scorers. In four consecutive seasons 1958-1961, he exceeded 2,000 runs, and it is no coincidence that Hampshire were runners-up in 1958 and Champions in 1961. In only one season, 1969, did he fail to reach 1,000 runs, having dropped down the order, allowing Barry Richards to open, but his form returned in the final three years with over 4,000 runs. By this time county cricketers were playing in the Sunday League and Gillette Cup, in which Marshall scored 2,190 runs at 32.20, while captaining the county to the runners-up spot in the first season of the Sunday League. In addition, although he was often a reluctant bowler of off-breaks he took 99 wickets for Hampshire at 24.27, with a best of 6-36 v Surrey in 1956, following 6-44 v Yorkshire in a remarkable victory at Bradford in 1955.

English cricket abolished the distinction between amateurs and professionals from the 1963 season, but when Marshall became captain he was effectively the county’s first professional captain, and while he was always a thrilling batsman, he brought a certain pragmatism to the leadership role, and his somewhat cautious approach seemed at odds with his batting. It was a difficult time for county cricket as the authorities introduced various strategies to ‘brighten’ what was on offer, and arrest declining attendances. Limited-overs cricket undoubtedly worked in that respect but some – for example limiting Championship first innings to 65 overs – did not, and Marshall’s autobiography Test Outcast was typically intelligent and forthright about the game’s future. It also revealed a couple of occasions when he might have returned to the international scene with West Indies or England, but that was not to be.

As captain, he was able to enjoy briefly what was probably the best pace attack in the county’s history, Shackleton, White and Cottam, but until Richards arrived the batting was less reliable. Hampshire nonetheless finished fifth in 1968 and 1969, and never lower than twelfth, before with obvious reluctance, Marshall handed control to Gilliat in 1971, playing on for two more years. He enjoyed a benefit in 1961, one of the first professionals to be so honoured after fewer than ten years with his ‘cap’, and a testimonial in 1971. He moved to Somerset and was for a time the Chairman of their Cricket Committee, but for a certain generation he will be remembered always, as one of the most entertaining of Hampshire’s batsman – and the first such in the postwar era.

6 Comments so far
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Lovely. I saw some of that 228*. The excitement when ‘Marsh’ walked out to open was wondering when we would first see that flashing square cut, and hoping it wouldn’t be a thin edge to the keeper. I was told he had an ambition to hit a six over point, not sure if he ever did. It sounds a more likely occurrence now that 20/20 has changed attitudes (and bats and boundaries), but in those days it would have been something.
Maybe not the best Hampshire batsman, but one for whom the word ‘cavalier’ fitted like a glove.

Comment by Dave Pople

John Arlott wrote of him (in 1960) that he had “only to walk to the wicket anywhere in the world for the crowd to lean forward in happy anticipation”, and that’s certainly my memory of him, having watched him first in 1960 when he scored 70 of 191 all out against the Champions Yorkshire (including ‘Fred’). For what it’s worth I suppose the two finest Hampshire batsmen were Barry Richards (who I saw lots) and Phil Mead (who I did not see), followed closely by Greenidge and Robin Smith. They all averaged in the 40s and 50s, whereas Marshall averaged 36.03, but we must always note that Marshall played mostly in the bowlers’ years – outgrounds, uncovered wickets, wet summers (1960s the worst decade of the century) etc.

For example, only two Hampshire bowlers have averaged under 20 – Malcolm Marshall, surely the finest of the lot, and ‘Shack’ – whereas James Tomlinson, a fine county bowler in the modern game, averaged 31.9.

And if you compare (Roy) Marshall’s Hampshire average with his most regular team-mates you find, Horton 33.5, Rogers & Jesty 31.8, Turner 30.9, Gray 30.8, Gilliat 30.1, Livingstone 27.9, Sainsbury 27.0, Baldry 24.8, Ingleby 24.6, and Barnard 22.1. I reckon you could easily add at least five runs to those averages to have a sense of comparison with the contemporary game. And all of that is without considering the impact of his approach, at a time of often dour county cricket – so I’d say that for sure he was a great Hampshire batsman..

Comment by pompeypop

Incidentally in my consideration of the ‘best’ I excluded those who did not play regularly, or have full careers (eg John Crawley, CB Fry or David Gower).

Comment by pompeypop

No Hampshire cricketer has ever meant more to me than Roy Marshall. In my first decade of watching (1958-), he almost alone was the entertainment of the batting. Only ACD offered something as well, but on a much more agricultural level. Many is the time I have arrived at Dean Park, perhaps 10 minutes late, with only one thing on my mind: is Roy still batting. A great county batsman for sure. And most, if not all, of his runs were scored on uncovered wickets. Which makes comparisons to later greats who batted on covered wickets slightly tricky. I never remember seeing him bowl, but his figures suggest he was very useful.

Comment by Ian Laidlaw

It’s funny Ian that bowling (I don’t recall seeing him bowl either). Peter Sainsbury used to say that Barry Richards was Hampshire’s best spinner in the 1970s, but he wouldn’t bowl either, despite a best of 7-63 (which you might have seen, at Bournemouth v Rest of World?)

Comment by pompeypop

Dave, Marshall played for Lowerhouse in the Lancashire League and played for Deanery before moving to Somerset. I was too young to see him in his “heady” days. My memory is of a middle order batsman towards the end of his career who possessed the most massive technique I’ve ever seen. And I’m including Boycott in that assessment. He was all but unbowlable but could still score his runs at a faster rate than most.

Comment by Alan Edwards

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