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April 1, 2005
Charles Palmer, who served cricket as a player and administrator for more than half a century, has died at the age of 85.
A diminutive man with poor eyesight (he played in spectacles), Palmer was a fine batsman with beautiful balance and nifty footwork who timed the ball delightfully and drove with conviction. He was also a capable right-arm medium-pacer who, on occasion, also unveiled some rather eccentric lobbed offbreaks.
He made his debut for Worcestershire in 1938 and, although teaching limited his post-war appearances, in 1950 he packed that in and moved to Leicestershire as captain and secretary. It was a successful move. As a batsman he passed 1000 runs in all eight full seasons with the county, and as a captain he led them with flair, good humour and some success. Wisden remarked that "his out-to-win policy led to a spate of close finishes."
In 1953-54 he was named as player-manager of Len Hutton's side which toured the Caribbean. Although he made his only Test appearance while there, it was an unhappy trip and Palmer's selection was described by EW Swanton as "just about the worst decision ever to come out of Lord's". Palmer's good nature and tolerance was not what was needed during an often fractious series.
In 1955 Palmer produced one of first-class cricket's most remarkable spells against Surrey, the champions. Coming on to allow his main bowlers to change ends, he took 8 for 7 - at one stage his figures were 12-12-0-8 and but for a dropped catch would have been even more remarkable. Peter May, one of his victims, wryly remembered Palmer popping his face round their dressing-room door and exclaiming with a cherubic grin, "Sorry, gentlemen!"
Palmer retired in 1957 to pursue business opportunities, making the occasional appearances in the next two summers. But he continued his involvement in the game as chairman of Leicestershire, an MCC committee member, MCC President in 1978-79 and chairman of the TCCB between 1983 and 1985.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Plays of the Day from the second ODI between England and India, in Cardiff
Plays of the day from the third ODI between England and India at Trent Bridge
Plays of the day from the tri-series match between Zimbabwe and South Africa