Peter Sainsbury 1934 - 2014 July 13, 2014

Hampshire's only double title winner

Ryan Bailey

Peter Sainsbury, the Hampshire allrounder who has died aged 80, was one of the finest players never to have played for England, in the estimation of John Arlott. Sainsbury is the only player in Hampshire's history to win two County Championship titles. His 22-year playing career coincided with the club's most prosperous period and he was named a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1974.

Arlott named Sainsbury in the England XI that never was and Sir Ian Botham was the first to pay tribute to him, tweeting: "Very sad news...Peter Sainsbury passed away last night! A great servant to Hampshire!" before posting a picture of himself alongside Sainsbury after Botham had his teeth knocked out by Andy Roberts.

Only two players - Phil Mead and Alec Kennedy - have played more than his 618 first-class games for Hampshire and as a left-arm slow bowler he took 1316 wickets at 24.14 apiece. By his own admission, the lack of turn he generated contributed to being continually overlooked by England.

Although he used flight expertly, he faced stiff competition from Tony Lock, Fred Titmus, Ray Illingworth and Derek Underwood all ahead of him in the pecking order and Sainsbury was limited to twelfth man duties, largely down to his brilliance in the field - as one of the best short legs of his, or any other, era, he held 617 catches.

Peter James Sainsbury was born on June 13, 1934, just a couple of miles outside Southampton. Sainsbury's talents were conspicuous from an early age as he shone under the tutelage of Walter Prevett, appearing for Southampton schools, Hampshire schools and as twelfth man for the South during his time at Bitterne Park Secondary Modern.

It wasn't long before Salisbury broke into the Hampshire side and during his first full season in 1955, he took 102 wickets and scored 586 runs. His endeavors with the bat usually came down the order, typically batting at No. 6, and gave the side balance and solidity. He passed 1000 runs in a season six times and in 1971, he came within fifty runs of the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets.

Although naturally a left-hander, he batted right-handed, and a prerequisite of his batting was a sound defence which provided the springboard for a variety of "nudges, squirts, pushes, dabs and flicks", as described by Wisden. His tenacity and sense of responsibility often saw him open the batting when required but was often the stable presence in the middle-order when he shored up many a collapse.

Having been awarded his county cap after his first season, Sainsbury toured Pakistan with the MCC A team but by his own admission his dismissal of Len Hutton, not once but twice, on his 21st birthday was one of the highlights of an illustrious career. As one-day cricket developed, Sainsbury was one of the first spinners to adapt to the limited-overs format and in 1965 he became the first player to take seven wickets in the Gillette Cup.

As well as a playing career which spanned two decades, Salisbury moved into coaching and he guided Hampshire to Championship titles in 1978 and again in 1986 as well as being in charge of their first Lord's final in 1988.

Hampshire announced they will wear black armbands during their Championship game against Essex starting on Sunday.

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  • Dummy4 on July 13, 2014, 18:35 GMT

    RIP To a truly great servant of my club and a lovely man.Just to add though we didn't win titles in 1978 and 1986 check we won the league only twice and Peter was a huge part of both

  • mohammed on July 13, 2014, 13:47 GMT

    Sad news indeed, a great player for Hampshire who played in an era when the national team was blessed with plenty of spin options. Would have have played many times for England otherwise. A true gentleman cricketer in the classic English mold. Remember him from many matches at Northlands Road and on his day even kept international batsman in check with his guile.

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