Full name Arthur Whitelock Austin
Born October 20, 1908, Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham
Died August 26, 2006, Darlington, Co Durham (aged 97 years 310 days)
Major teams Durham
Batting style Right-hand bat
Fielding position Wicketkeeper
Arthur Austin was such an integral part of Durham cricket that the club named a restaurant at the Riverside after him. Arthur, who was 97 when he died in late August, began his long association with Durham when he made his debut in 1936. He was a wicketkeeper and was considered one of Durham's best for the next 18 years. The Australian Lindsay Hassett described him as the best in England. In 60 appearances he made 129 dismissals (67 caught and 62 stumped) including twice making seven in a match. He was never flamboyant but those who saw him remembered him as a keeper who was always in the right place at the right time.
Like other players of his era he would have played more but for the war. His day job in the family dairy business, which he joined on leaving school, gave him the experience necessary for his war work - advising the government on cheese production. He played league cricket for Stockton and also played football for the club in the Northern League. Aged 38 he took up hockey and represented the county. In 1950 Arthur joined the Durham committee; in 1969 he became honorary secretary and in 1975 a much respected chairman. His period of office covered the application for admission to the County Championship in which Arthur played a crucial part. He was described by all who knew him as a gentleman and his shrewd, honest and open approach, and his willingness to listen to contrary views, ensured the bid was taken seriously. "He was a wonderful man who was a real inspiration when we went for first-class status," says Don Robson, who succeeded him as Durham chairman in 1992.
When Durham became a first-class county Arthur was made UK patron (Don Bradman was overseas patron) and continued to drive himself to board meetings until a couple of years ago. His memory never failed. No one who was there will forget him addressing the local branch of The Cricket Society and recalling games he played against Australia before the war as well as local club cricketers and their foibles. Fittingly the evening concluded at Austin's, the bar and restaurant named by the club in his honour. He is survived by his wife Molly.
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