Hampshire Cricket History

A True Champion
December 19, 2018, 10:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am VERY sorry to report the death of one of Hampshire Cricket’s finest men, Mike Barnard, who passed away last night. Here’s my piece from the A-Z.

RIP Mike

Barnard, Henry Michael (‘Mike’) (324) born Portsmouth 18.7.1933. Mike Barnard was a right-hand batsman, superb slip fielder and early in his career an occasionally effective medium-pace bowler. He played professional football and has one possibly unique claim – that in the top division he played 100+ matches for his home city side, plus 200+ first-class cricket matches for his home county, and in both cases without ever playing for another football league or Championship side. To some extent, this spilt career probably inhibited his progress in both sports, but he was a natural athlete – as a schoolboy he represented Hampshire under-19s at rugby union. He showed promise as a cricketer in 1949, when he averaged over 60 for Hampshire Schools, and in the following seasons he played for England Schools and Hampshire’s Club & Ground and 2nd XIs. In 1951, he signed professional forms in both sports, although almost immediately National Service called him away.

He made his Hampshire debut in 1952, on his 19th birthday but with little success and in 1953, there was another unsuccessful game in Portsmouth, while at Christmas he made his football league debut. The 1954 cricket season was his breakthrough, beginning with a last-minute call-up v Middlesex at Southampton, when, batting at number 10, he came in with Hampshire 48-8 and top-scored with 39. Hampshire lost but he followed this with 24* in the second innings. One week later, he came home to Portsmouth v the Pakistanis, scoring just two as Hampshire took a small lead in a low-scoring game. They then lost Rogers and Marshall (his only ‘pair’) and were effectively 29-2, before Eagar and Horton added 64. Barnard arrived at 71-3 and stood firm as he and Gerry Hill added 91* for the seventh wicket, Eagar declaring when Barnard reached his first century (101*). The Pakistan target was 261 but after Barnard dismissed both openers, they made no effort, closing on 86-4 in 53 overs, Barnard 10-3-18-2. He would only take another 14 wickets in his first-class career, but to Hanif Mohammad he added victims like Tom Graveney, Don Kenyon and Ted Dexter. There were two further half-centuries that season, but 1955 was a real breakthrough for him as a batsman – and also notable for both his teams. In 1954/5, he played 30 matches for ‘Pompey’ who finished 3rd in the First Division, then passed 900 runs with another century (116 v Leicestershire at Bournemouth) as one of the 13 regulars who took Hampshire to third place for the first time. It was a thrilling season, with his unfashionable county led only by the two heavyweights, Yorkshire and Champions Surrey. Over the next few seasons Barnard would compete with Rayment, Pitman, Flood, Baldry and Livingstone for the batting places below the very fine top three of Marshall, Gray and Horton. Whenever there was a doubt, his slip catching could be decisive, and he finished his Hampshire career with 312 catches in 276 matches.

He scored a century v MCC in 1956 and another v the Indians in 1959, while with 123 v Australians in 1964, three of his six first-class centuries were against the tourists, and only two came in the Championship. After a modest 1960 season, and having left football, he began 1961 in the side, but lost his place to Dennis Baldry, as Hampshire sought their first title. Apart from one game deputising for his injured captain v Sussex at Portsmouth, he was not recalled until Derby on 12 August, and then embarked on the finest and most important few weeks of his county career. There, his 45 helped Horton add 91 in a victory, after which at Southampton, he made his second Championship century, helping Hampshire to full points v Warwickshire. Returning to Portsmouth he had a half-century in an easy victory v Leicestershire, then 77 in defeating Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. After an oddly unimportant meeting with the Australians, Hampshire went to Bournemouth knowing that victory would bring the first title. After Derbyshire took first innings points, Hampshire needed quick and substantial runs, and Roy Marshall obliged of course, but on the third morning it was the stroke-play and swift running of Sainsbury and Barnard, adding 99 in just over an hour, that enabled Ingleby-Mackenzie to declare and Shackleton to weave his magic. Shortly after 4pm on 1 September 1961 Hampshire had won county cricket’s greatest prize – and a rather delightful curiosity was that in the match that clinched the 1961 title, Mike Barnard scored 19 & 61.

His average of 28.73 that season was the best of his career, and in the next few seasons his aggregates were 1,114 runs in 1962 then 980, 814 and 958. By this time, he was often opening with Roy Marshall in the Championship, but in 1966, there were fewer matches, no half-centuries, an average below 15, and Mike retired, taking a testimonial and embarking on a coaching and teaching career. Before that, he had also taken part in the earliest limited-overs, knock-out cup matches, starting with a heroic 98 in Hampshire’s first match, a narrow defeat v Derbyshire in 1963, overall, he scored 315 runs, at an average barely below 40, and in his Hampshire days, he outscored Roy Marshall in the Gillette Cup. As his new career took shape he prepared to take over Hampshire’s 2nd XI in 1969, but just before the season began, a serious coach crash robbed him of much mobility. After he recovered somewhat, he coached at the School of Navigation in Warsash, was a regular commentator with BBC Radio Solent, and for the Southampton Hospitals. He also took up bowls, worked on drug testing with the Sports Council, organised the reunions of Pompey’s footballers and Hampshire’s cricketers, and bore his injuries with incredible fortitude and cheerfulness. His career never reached the heights it promised, but he will be forever one of Hampshire’s very few ‘Champions’, and for his outlook on life, one of their bravest and best of men.

12 Comments so far
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‪RIP Mike Barnard. Hampshire CCC Championship side 1961. Portsmouth FC legend. My boyhood hero and a brave true gentleman. It was an honour to know you.‬

Comment by Terence

I remember vividly the tension on the 3rd morning of the Derbyshire game, 1st September 1961, as Hampshire needed quick runs, prior to a hopeful declaration. Probably Mike Barnard’s finest HCCC moment. His slip fielding also stays in the memory. RIP.

Comment by Ian Laidlaw

Thank you for the fine tribute to a fine sportsman. He will be sorely missed by Hampshire and Portsmouth supporters of a certain age.

Comment by Stuart T

Sad news

Comment by Bloggy McBlogface

Very sad news, Mike was a truly brave and good spirited person who had so many facets the best being that he was a lovely human being.

Comment by Paul Williams

Very sad news indeed. A most courageous man who always preferred to talk about others rather than dwell on himself. Dave, your final sentence captured him perfectly.

Comment by Alan Edwards

I never had the pleasure of meeting Mike or seeing him play but I feel I did through Dave’s excellent blog.

RIP Mike.

Comment by James

I remember Mike’s courtesy and cheerfulness after finishing his commentary stints coming down the steps from the Solent box at Northlands Road.


Comment by stephenfh

Very sad news. Mike was a true gentleman and a real ‘Pompey man’. I was privileged to see him play both cricket and football back in the 1950s. For Pompey he played in a star studded forward line including Jackie Henderson, Johnny Gordon, Peter Harris and Ray Crawford. For Hampshire, he was a useful batsman and a brilliant slip fielder – one of the best I’ve seen.

It was always a pleasure to chat to him at the cricket, such a nice man and modest to the core. I shall miss seeing him at ‘The Bowl’. RIP Mike.

Comment by Dave Wilson

Thought you might be interested in this wonderful tribute by Mike Vimpany:

Comment by James

Only 3 left from the 1961 Championship side by my reckoning: Dennis Baldry, Malcolm Heath, and Alan Wassell?

Comment by Ian Laidlaw

Bryan Timms

Comment by Dave Allen

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