Obituaries index: A-E

This section records the lives of those who died during 2003 and were:

  • Test cricketers
  • first-class cricketers from Great Britain and Ireland
  • Other personalities of interest from around the world

    A-E - F-J - K-O - P-S - T-Z

    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 batting".

    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 secured victory.

    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."

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