Full name Michael Moore Walford
Born November 27, 1915, Norton-on-Tees, Co Durham
Died January 16, 2002, Sherborne, Dorset (aged 86 years 50 days)
Major teams Oxford University, Somerset
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Slow left-arm orthodox
Education Rugby School; Oxford University
|First-class span||1935 - 1953|
Walford, Michael Moore, died in Sherborne on January 16, aged 86. Somerset's cast of strolling players was legion in the days when amateurs regularly came in for the occasional game at the professionals' expense. But few matched the impact Micky Walford made when he turned up in mid-season after a year's schoolmastering at Sherborne. The runs rattled effortlessly from his bat: in 52 games for Somerset between 1946 and 1953 he scored 3,395 at an average of 40.90. He impressed on his first appearance at Taunton, going in at No. 7 against the Indian tourists and contributing an unbeaten 141 to Somerset's innings victory. Promotion to No. 3 was immediate, 139 against Surrey at Weston-super-Mare followed several matches later and, with 472 runs at 52.44 in seven games, he finished fifth in the national averages behind Wally Hammond, Cyril Washbrook, Denis Compton and Martin Donnelly. Not that the cognoscenti were surprised. At 30 Walford had form going back to his schooldays at Rugby, where he was four years in the XI and played for the Public Schools at Lord's in 1934. After going up to Oxford that year, he won cricket Blues in 1936 and 1938, as well as rugby and hockey Blues in three years. As a centrethreequarter - his Oxford wing in 1935 and 1936 was the flying Prince Obolensky - he twice made the final England rugby trials, was a travelling reserve and played in wartime internationals; as a hockey wing-half he won 17 England caps, often as captain, and played all five games for Great Britain in the silver-medal side that lost the Olympic final to India in London in 1948. Walford's maiden century, 201 not out in two and a half hours for the University against MCC at Lord's in 1938, was the 12th-fastest double-hundred at the time. His second, 114 out of 177 while he was at the wicket, had a curiosity value in that the match at The Oval was of two days' duration, so Oxford's players could rest ahead of the Varsity Match, yet retained its first-class status. Somerset obtained a special registration for Walford after he wrote from Germany, where he was with the Royal Corps of Signals, to enquire about playing during school holidays. In contrast to his expansive though nonetheless orthodox strokeplay and his colourful Harlequin cap, he was taciturn by nature, individualistic, and played cricket more for its intellectual challenges than its camaraderie. Whatever the easy-going Somerset professionals made of this latest privateer, however, they couldn't begrudge him his runs or his athletic cover fielding. Opening with Harold Gimblett in 1947, he put together a sequence of 96 and 52 at Trent Bridge, 90 and 101 against Glamorgan at Weston and, as his seaside pièce de résistance, a career-best 264 against Hampshire, hitting 40 fours before falling 28 short of L. C. H. Palairet's 1896 record for Somerset. The Olympics restricted him to three games in 1948, though his brief season was not without incident. At Eastbourne he put on 180 with Gimblett, then saw him progress to a triple-century. Next game, back at Taunton, he was the cause of Len Hutton's bizarre dismissal, adjudged run out after leaving the crease to avoid impeding the wicket-keeper as he took a return throw. When the ball bounced out of the keeper's gloves and rebounded off Hutton's pads on to the stumps, Walford alone appealed. The umpire upheld the appeal, and as England's premier batsman went on his way, an embarrassed silence followed him. "It was something done in the heat of the moment," Walford told David Foot some 40 years later, confessing that the appeal stayed on his conscience for a long time. Johnny Lawrence, born in Leeds, added injury to insult by taking Yorkshire's last four wickets in five balls, including a hat-trick. Walford's arrival in 1949, and his 763 runs in nine games, turned round a ten-game losing streak, while his first four games in 1950 produced four half-centuries and then another hundred at Weston, something of a favourite watering-hole - six of his nine first-class hundreds were made there. Going with MCC to Canada, where he took a century off Alberta, accounted for his 1951 vacation, after which there were just two more summers before he learnt that Somerset would be using his special registration to acquire someone else. In 97 first-class games, which included a few end-of-season festival matches, he made 5,327 runs at 33.71, took eight wickets at 31.12 with his occasional left-arm slows and held 50 catches. From 1954 to 1962 he played for Dorset - he had played for his native Durham in 1937 - and in 1955, at the age of 39, he became the first minor-county batsman since 1911 to score 1,000 runs. Sherborne boys, meanwhile, continued to benefit from his cricket, rugby and hockey coaching; in due course he was the school's second master.
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