This section records the lives of those who died during 2003 and were:
Wisden would be pleased to hear of any notable omissions. Please write to: Obituaries, John Wisden & Co Ltd, 13 Old Aylesfield, Golden Pot, Alton, Hampshire GU34 4BY.
Abed, Gasant, died in April 2003, aged 72. One of four brothers who played
under the auspices of the South African Cricket Board of Control (SACBOC)
when opportunities for non-whites were restricted by the country's race laws,
"Tiny" Abed learned his cricket on matting pitches and unmown outfields. He
made his debut for Western Province Indians at 17 and, five years later, in 1953,
was in the Western Province Federation team that travelled by lorry to Port
Elizabeth and Durban to help pioneer the establishment of non-racial provincial
cricket. Well over six feet tall, Abed bowled fast off a long run, varying away
swing with a lively off-cutter, and was a forceful back-foot batsman. His inspiration
was Keith Miller and he brought something of Miller's cavalier spirit to the drab
grounds to which he was mostly confined. In South Africa's home-and-away series
against Kenya, he took four for nine at Durban in 1956 and had match figures of
eight for 80 at Nairobi in 1958. On the Kenyan tour - the first outside South
Africa by a non-white side - he was Basil D'Oliveira's vice-captain and Abed's
brother "Lobo" kept wicket. But whereas D'Oliveira went on to play in the
Lancashire leagues, as did Abed's younger brother, "Dik", Tiny remained in South
Africa, playing on in local cricket into his forties.
Adhikari, Lieutenant-Colonel Hemchandra Ramachandra, died on
October 25, 2003, aged 84. Hemu Adhikari played in 21 Tests for India, bringing
a military man's stay-at-your-post sense of duty to Indian cricket of the late 1940s
and 1950s when the national team was frequently on the brink of rout and flight.
His finest hour came in one of the darkest times of all, when India's batsmen were frightened by Wes Hall and Roy Gilchrist in the 1958-59 home series against West Indies and, at 39, he became the fourth captain in the five Tests. He was not even the obvious choice for this role - the selectors almost went for G. S. Ramchand - and Adhikari only accepted after prompting from his wife and his commanding officer. But he led by example with
innings of 63 and 40, took three
wickets with leg-breaks scarcely seen
in Test cricket, and secured a draw to
halt West Indies' three-match winning
sequence. Despite his success, he did
not make himself available for the 1959
tour of England which turned out even
more disastrously. Adhikari had played
only two Tests in the previous six years,
partly because of army commitments,
but his leadership qualities had been
much in evidence as he guided Services
to two successive Ranji Trophy finals.
In his early days, he had won three
Ranji Trophies with Baroda. At that stage he was renowned for his strokeplay,
but in Test cricket he usually had to concentrate on crisis management: his only
Test century came at Delhi in the maiden Test between India and West Indies in
1948-49 when his 114 not out just failed to save the follow-on; he again organised
the resistance in the second innings with a prolonged 29 not out against a
background chant of "Well played Ad-hi-ka-ri". He struggled as vice-captain in
England in 1952 but against Pakistan that winter he tasted his only two Test wins,
making 81 not out at Delhi in an 80-minute stand of 109 with Ghulam Ahmed,
still India's highest last-wicket partnership. After retiring from the army, Adhikari
became national coach and was manager of the triumphant 1971 tour of England.
His style involved strict discipline, an emphasis on fielding and, in the words of
Bapu Nadkarni, "not bothering about what anybody else thought". He was also
occasionally heard as a radio summariser in a style the Daily Telegraph described
as "somewhat Delphic".
Allen, Anthony William, died on December 21, 2003, a day before his
91st birthday. Tony Allen scored centuries in both the traditional Lord's showpiece
games in the 1930s: 112 for Eton against Harrow in 1931, the first century before
lunch in the fixture, and 115 for Cambridge against Oxford in 1934. On both
occasions he shared in double-century opening stands. Tall and a fluent driver,
Allen passed 1,000 runs that season, for Cambridge, MCC and Northamptonshire.
But he went to work in insurance and played only twice for Northamptonshire
after that, in 1936 when he was the first of their five captains in one season. He
turned down the captaincy in 1937, causing The Cricketer to mourn that his
"evanescent appearance only served to emphasise the recurrent loss of his beautiful
Allwork, Matthew Julian, was killed in a helicopter crash in Dubai on
March 26, 2003, aged 39, while filming a horse race. Allwork was an innovative
cameraman, credited with the invention of the stump-cam.
Austin, Wing Commander Sidney Peter, died on January 27, 2003, aged
89. A former RAF accountant who travelled the world to watch cricket, Peter
Austin was Warwickshire's first-team scorer from 1982 to 1993. In 1986-87 he
became the first county scorer to do the job on an England tour, and was reapponted
for the next two trips. He was a courteous, self-effacing tourist.
Baird, James George, died on November 4, 2003, aged 82. Jim Baird made
his Sheffield Shield debut in March 1949 in Sir Donald Bradman's last hurrah,
opening the bowling for Victoria against South Australia, and remained a regular
through 1949-50 when their Test bowlers were in South Africa. He took 30 wickets
for Victoria that season, second only to Jack Iverson's 46, with a mixture of swing
and lift. Baird was also an outstanding all-round Australian Rules footballer for
Carlton and briefly a professional runner, finishing third in the 1946 Stawell Gift
sprint, Australia's most famous race.
Banerjee, Tata, who died on September 5, 2003, played three Ranji Trophy
games for Bihar as a medium-pace all-rounder in the 1950s. His son, Subroto,
played one Test for India in 1991-92.
Biddulph, Kenneth David, died after a heart attack on January 7, 2003,
aged 70. Ken Biddulph was an Essex boy whose potential as a fast-medium bowler
was spotted at Alf Gover's indoor school in London and taken up by Somerset.
He had an awkward run-up, and never found the penetration to be a regular matchwinner,
but he was thoughtful in his work and willing to bowl all day if necessary.
Biddulph served a lengthy apprenticeship before winning a regular first-team place
in 1958, when his 40 wickets contributed to Somerset's climb to third place, and
he managed to take around double that in both the next two years. Then he moved
to become a club pro in the north-east and spent a decade playing Minor Counties
cricket for Durham. Biddulph eventually returned to the West Country to coach,
and his humorous anecdotes inspired Stephen Chalke to record the recollections
of 1950s county cricketers in Runs in the Memory. His own attitude to the past
was unusually reverent: in 1956, bowling for Somerset II at Trowbridge, Biddulph
slowed the over-rate down to prevent a Wiltshire win; more than 40 years later he
wrote to Wiltshire to apologise, saying it had been on his conscience all his life.
Birrell, Henry Benson, who died on September 18, 2003, aged 75, was
a South African who won an Oxford Blue at both cricket and rugby in 1953 and
1954. As an opening bat, Harry Birrell made centuries against Yorkshire and
Worcestershire in 1953 and the following year had an outstanding University
match: he made 27 and 64 and then, moving the ball both ways at medium-pace,
claimed five for 20 in 14 overs as Oxford just failed to secure victory. His batting
- elegant rather than forceful - and bowling were eclipsed by his athleticism in
the covers and outfield and his fast running between the wickets. Birrell later
played for Eastern Province and Rhodesia, where he worked as a teacher, and was
involved as a coach and selector for South African schools cricket. His son Adrian
and nephew Warne Rippon both played for Eastern Province.
Bishop, Edward Barry, died on May 24, 2003, aged 79. Ted Bishop was
a journalist and author whose main cricketing achievement was to "liberate" the
Singapore Cricket Club after Britain recaptured the colony in 1945. The club had
been used as the HQ of the Japanese secret police and Bishop found a bloodstained
cricket bat on the steps. He took six wickets in the club's first post-war match
and reportedly used the bat for several years thereafter.
Bolton, Alan, died on January 12, 2003, aged 63, after suffering from
Alzheimer's disease. Bolton played 40 times for Lancashire between 1957 and
1961 after making his debut against Cambridge as a 17-year-old. Though a game
and attractive batsman, he had limited opportunities and was regularly shifted up
and down the order. His finest hour came when he scored a decisive 96 to lead
a Lancashire recovery from 49 for six on a sporting Grace Road pitch in 1959.
Boys, Commander Cecil, died on March 27, 2003, aged 84. A career Naval
officer, educated at Dartmouth, Boys played seven first-class games for Combined
Services between 1947 and 1951, scoring a career-best 84 against Essex in 1950,
a performance which, along with ten wickets by Signalman Brian Close, almost
Brice, Gordon Harry Joseph, who died in April 2003, aged 78, had 25
games for Northamptonshire between 1948 and 1952. Brice had a golden week in
July 1951, when injuries gave him the chance to take the new ball, and he responded
by taking eight for 124 in the first innings against Surrey and followed up with
six for 84 in the next match against Nottinghamshire. However, he was unable to
sustain such form and his batting promised more than it delivered. He played league
football, mainly at centre-half, for several clubs including Wolves and Fulham.
Briggs, Ronald Edward, died on October 10, 2003, aged 74. Brought in
to open New South Wales's batting in December 1952 when Arthur Morris was
playing for Australia, Ron Briggs hit a debut hundred at Perth in the second
innings and then scored fifties in his next five Shield games. Selected for the
Australian XI against MCC in 1954-55, he top-scored with a three-hour 48, but
a three-ball pair for New South Wales when he next met the tourists proved an
ignominious finale to his state cricket.
Chandler, Leonard Victor, died on September 2, 2003, aged 77, a
fortnight before Sussex's long-awaited Championship triumph. He was the Sussex
first-team scorer from 1982 to 2001, having previously worked in the building
industry. His funeral was delayed so that the county's players could attend.
Collin, Thomas, died on August 26, 2003, aged 92, a day after collapsing
while reading a biography of Eric Hollies, his team-mate at Warwickshire. Tom
Collin played the first of his 52 games for them as a left-handed batsman and
occasional slow left-armer in 1933, and was capped in 1934. If a little uncertain
in defence, he hit the ball hard, and his fielding was often spectacular. His squareleg
catch to dismiss South Africa's Cyril Vincent in 1935 was so good Vincent
dropped his bat and joined in the applause. Earlier that season, Collin made 105
not out against Gloucestershire at Edgbaston and, with Tom Dollery, put on 199
for the seventh wicket to save the game. This, however, was his only hundred and
he returned to Durham, his home county, in 1937 to become professional at
Durham School, a post he held, war service aside, until 1976.
Constantine, Elias, who died on May 22, 2003, his 91st birthday, was the
son of Lebrun Constantine, who toured England in 1900 and 1906, and the younger
brother by ten years of the great Learie, later Lord Constantine. Himself a talented
all-rounder, Elias played 21 times for Trinidad in the 1940s and, on account of his
brilliant fielding, was West Indies' twelfth man for the 1934-35 Trinidad Test against
England. In the preceding MCC tour match, the brothers had opened the bowling
together for the only time in first-class cricket, as well as adding 93 for the seventh
wicket after Trinidad were 42 for six. Elias did not bowl as furiously as his famous
brother, but he was so quick in the field that his team-mates reputedly congratulated
him when he dropped a catch on his Trinidad debut, because no one else could
have got close. His first-class career produced just 895 runs at 27.12, with one
memorable hundred, against British Guiana in 1943-44, when he hit five sixes and,
according to Wisden, pierced the field "with strokes reminiscent of his brother".
Cowman, Stanley Corbett, who died on February 2, 2003, aged 79, was
honorary curator of the New Zealand Cricket Museum at the Basin Reserve,
Wellington - from its inauguration in 1987 until his death. The museum was a
direct consequence of the public's interest in a display of cricketana that Cowman,
an avid collector, had set out in a Basin tearoom during the Australia Test of
February 1986. A Yorkshire-born dentist who emigrated to New Zealand in 1964,
he umpired two one-day internationals in 1982-83.
Cownley, John Michael, died on November 7, 1998, aged 69. Michael
Cownley was a left-handed batsman and right-arm bowler of varying pace who
played for Yorkshire against both universities in 1952 and was recruited by
Lancashire to play twice ten years later. He was a Sheffield University graduate
with a reputation as an amateur light-heavyweight boxer.
Crompton, Colin Neil, died on December 11, 2003, aged 66. Neil "Froggy"
Crompton was a burly Melbourne club left-hander promoted to open the batting
for Victoria in 1957-58, establishing himself with two centuries. He held his place,
mostly batting down the order, for five seasons. He was still not finished with the
MCG, however. Playing for Melbourne in front of 102,000 fans in the 1964
Australian Rules grand final, he kicked his first goal in eight seasons to bring
Melbourne victory over arch-rivals Collingwood.
Davis, Richard Peter, who died on December 29, 2003, aged 37, had been
suffering from a brain tumour since 2001, the season he became the first cricketer
to play for five first-class counties. At 22, Dickie Davis, born in Margate, succeeded
Derek Underwood as Kent's left-arm spinner, daunting enough even without the
end of uncovered wickets, which made his task near-impossible. In 1992, he was
the leading slow bowler in the country, taking 74 wickets and finishing sixth in
the national averages. But that was the only year his average dipped below 30
and a year later the younger Min Patel was challenging for a place, so Davis,
turning down a one-year contract, signed for Warwickshire. He appeared in most
of their Championship matches in the county's miraculous 1994 season and played
an important role by solving what had been the team's great weakness. But he
quickly came under challenge from another young pretender, Ashley Giles, and
moved on to Gloucestershire. Retirement from first-class cricket in 1997 (to
become cricket development officer for Greater London) opened an even more
peripatetic chapter. Likeable and sympathetic, he showed increasing promise as a
coach, working with the England women's team, St Edmund's School, Canterbury
and, as player-coach, Berkshire. Davis also played a few one-day games for Sussex
in 1998 and in August 2001 relegation-rattled Leicestershire obtained a special
registration so he could strengthen their meagre spin bowling on a Northampton
dirt track; he repaid their confidence with a first-innings half-century and six for
73, his 17th five-for. Two weeks later he had a seizure and the tumour was
diagnosed. "He was a pro's pro," said his Kent team-mate, Matthew Fleming,
"unflashy, good in a crisis, a brilliant pair of hands, and a much better batsman
than might have been obvious - he was the best hooker we had." As a bowler,
however, he probably did not spin the ball enough to be truly effective in fourday
cricket. Despite his wanderings, he remained close to his first county - ten
days before he died, his wife's sister married the current captain David Fulton
and Davis said grace. He was buried in his Kent blazer.
Debnam, Alexander Frederick Henry, died in January 2003, aged 81.
Alec Debnam was a leg-spinning all-rounder who had four seasons of county
cricket for Kent and Hampshire after the war. In 1949, he accounted for five of
Gloucestershire's first six on a helpful pitch for Kent at Bristol, and Hampshire
tried him as an opener after he hit a career-best 64 against Cambridge at
Bournemouth. Then he went back into the RAF.
Dews, George, who died on January 29, 2003, aged 81, was a Yorkshireman
thwarted in his ambition to play for his own county, who instead became a
Worcestershire stalwart of the 1950s. He could not have had a more inauspicious
first-class debut, being bowled for a king pair by the Lancashire slow left-armer,
Eric Price (see below, page 1551), in an innings defeat at Old Trafford in May
1946. But he persevered and dug himself into the county middle order for the
entire 1950s, reaching his thousand runs 11 years out of 12, and if anything
improving with age - he passed 1,500 in his last three seasons before retirement,
aged 40, in 1961. Dews was strongest on the off side, but adaptable enough to
switch his game as the situation demanded, and in 1951 he was at the heart of a
batting performance that Wisden called "one of the most notable in the whole
history of cricket". Nottinghamshire left Worcestershire ten minutes, plus a possible
extra half-hour, to score 131 for victory. Don Kenyon promoted Dews to open
the innings with him. After the ten minutes (in which time five overs were bowled)
they had 54 on the board and went on to win by nine wickets with five minutes
to spare. Dews made 43 not out. He was also a goal-scoring inside-forward for
Middlesbrough, Plymouth Argyle and Walsall, and as a footballer earned the
nickname of "Gentleman George", which was adopted at Worcester too. "He was
a quiet, undemonstrative man, unfailingly courteous, with a gentle sense of humour
and fun," according to former club secretary Mike Vockins.
Dickinson, John Edward, died on March 24, 2003, aged 88. Ted Dickinson
was a left-handed batsman and slow bowler who played twice for Leicestershire
in the 1930s. His parallel career in football was ended by a broken leg. After the
war, Dickinson moved to Torquay, where he became a pillar of the town cricket
club, occasionally played for Devon, and was a driving force behind the Torquay
festival, which thrived in the 1950s as a rival to Scarborough and Hastings.
Divecha, Ramesh Vithaldas, died on February 19, 2003, aged 75, having
suffered from Alzheimer's disease. "Buck" Divecha played in India's first Test
victory, against England at Madras in 1951-52, and 11 different first-class sides
in all, but his golden days were spent at Oxford. He could swing the ball both
ways at a brisk but accurate medium-pace, which had been honed under Alf
Gover's tuition, and was an enthusiastic middle-order bat. Later, he added offbreaks
to his repertoire, and used both bowling methods to remarkable effect in
the 1950 and 1951 Varsity matches, culminating in 1951 when he took seven for
62 in the second innings and spun Oxford to a thrilling 21-run victory. Barely a
week later he was back at Lord's taking five for 81 (including Compton and
Hutton) for the Gentlemen against the Players. Divecha played four Tests against
England over the next 13 months to less effect, but he took a hat-trick on the
1952 tour in a surprising win over the ultimate champions Surrey, swiftly followed
by eight for 74 against Glamorgan. He was called up the following winter against
Pakistan at Madras, where he trapped 18-year-old Hanif Mohammad lbw.
Thereafter, his work as an oil company executive limited Divecha to a handful of
Ranji Trophy appearances. "He was a cheerful and amusing character who loved
to bowl," recalled his Oxford contemporary, Donald Carr.
Dowling, Dereck Frank, died on May 30, 2003, the day before his Natal
team-mate, Billy Wade. He was 90. Dowling was a stylish left-handed bat and
leg-spinner who played for Border and North-East Transvaal on either side of the
war before starting an eight-year run with Natal in 1946-47. During that time they
won the Currie Cup three times and Dowling was considered for tours of England
and Australia. He remained involved with Natal cricket and was their president
from 1974 till 1986. His father, Henry, and younger brother Justin also played
Currie Cup cricket.
Edwards, Sir George Robert OM, CBE, FRS, DL, who died on March 2,
2003, aged 94, was one of the foremost aeronautical designers and administrators
of the 20th century and chairman of the British Aircraft Corporation from 1963
to 1975. He was at the heart of almost every development in British aviation for
40 years from biplanes to Concorde. He was also a skilful leg-break bowler,
playing alongside the Bedser twins in club cricket, and married his two interests
by insisting on the importance of backspin in the design of Barnes Wallis's
bouncing bombs used in the Dambusters raids of 1943. He was president of Surrey
in 1980 and also an accomplished painter whose Cricket at Guildford was offered
by Wisden Cricket Monthly in 1989 to support Surrey's appeal to save The Oval.
Endean, William Russell, died on June 28, 2003, aged 79, having been suffering from Parkinson's disease. Like Jonty Rhodes in a later generation of South Africans, Russell Endean was an inspirational fielder, a dogged batsman, and a hockey international. Australians dubbed him "Endless Endean" for his long hours at the crease when Jack Cheetham's young side toured there in 1952-53 and, against every expectation, squared the series 2-2, largely due to Endean's chanceless seven-and-a-half-hour 162 not out that set up the first of South Africa's two wins at Melbourne. On arriving in Australia the South Africans practised fielding three to four hours a day, and Endean's brilliant catch in that first Test win at Melbourne was the embodiment of their commitment. Even as the crowd was rising to acclaim Keith Miller's six-bound blow over long-on, Endean was leaping in front of the MCG's iron boundary fence to clutch the ball one-handed. Endean had seen war service in Egypt and Italy when, still only 21, he announced himself with 95 opening for Transvaal at Bloemfontein in March 1946. Chosen as wicket-keeper/batsman for the 1951 tour of England, he struggled for runs in English conditions and played only when John Waite was injured at The Oval. But Endean's batting on harder pitches, where he could play square of the wicket with impunity, was sometimes devastating: playing for Transvaal at Ellis Park in 1954-55, he flayed Orange Free State for a world-record 197 not out before lunch, extraordinary, even allowing for a three-hour session. So he played in 27 more Tests without taking the gloves, and scored two more centuries, at Auckland in 1952-53 and at Headingley in 1955, though he continued his maddening form in England by following up with a pair in the decisive Oval Test. Endean was involved in two of the most bizarre dismissals in Test history: when he kept at The Oval in 1951, umpire Frank Chester ruled that Len Hutton, who instinctively flicked his bat when the ball ran off his arm and looked like dropping on his wicket, had impeded Endean's attempt to catch the ball and gave him out for obstruction. Against England at Cape Town in 1956-57, Endean himself became the first batsman out "handled the ball" in Test cricket when he tried to stop a top-edged paddle hitting his stumps. He said later: "I thought of heading it away, but that seemed too theatrical"; it might, however, have been legal. Endean represented Transvaal until 1960-61 then settled near London to work for BP as an accountant. He may not have liked the wickets, but his wife was English and he loved the opera and ballet. Endean played on for MCC in schools games and for many years captained Malden Wanderers in Surrey club cricket, making countless friends with his softly spoken, undemonstrative manner. "Whatever the passport is to be a gentleman," said John Waite, "Russell had that passport."