Obituaries May 22, 1997

Surrey stalwarts

E W Swanton

Two batsmen associated with Surrey`s ascendancy in the 1950s, Bernie Constable and Geoffrey Whittaker, have died, aged respectively 76 and 80.

Constable was a little Cockney cocksparrow of a man, who between 1939 and 1964 made 1,000 runs 12 times in an aggregate of 18,849, with 27 hundreds at an average of 30.

It was the famous quartet of Alec Bedser, Peter Loader, Jim Laker and Tony Lock who, between 1952 and 1958, won seven titles in a row; but no one except Peter May, his captain, was a more consistent scorer in the middle order. May wrote of him that "he was a marvellous cover-point, a brilliant player of spin, very tidy in everything he did". Laker found him a shrewd observer of the weaknesses of batsmen. As the only survivor of pre-War days, he often led Surrey in his last season, 1964.

Whittaker, by contrast, was a fine, upstanding striker of the ball, who started in 1937 and was one of the unlucky ones who was coming good when war came. He made 1,439 runs in 1951, but survived only two years into the Stuart Surridge regime.