Arthur Milton 1928-2007 April 25, 2007

Double international Arthur Milton dies

Cricinfo staff

Arthur Milton batting for his beloved Gloucestershire © The Cricketer
Arthur Milton, the last man to play both football and cricket for England, has died at his home in Bristol. He was 79.

Born and raised in the West Country, Milton was a stylish batsman who made his debut for Gloucestershire in 1948 and was an ever-present until he retired aged 46 at the end of 1974. He was a natural at any ball game: a fleet-footed winger who went off to Arsenal, he also played golf, tennis, even bet on the dogs better than his team-mates.

Blond and slight, was the last of a rare breed - the double cricket/football international. His one appearance for England at football was in a 2-2 draw with Austria in 1952. In his first Test, against New Zealand at Headingley in 1958 Milton - opening the innings with a rugby cap in Mike Smith - collected 104 not out. That won him a place on the following winter's tour of Australia, where the opposition was rather more ferocious than the outclassed New Zealanders, and Milton struggled, as did his fellow double international Willie Watson. Milton finished his six-Test career with 204 runs at 25.50.

He was happier batting for Gloucestershire, which he did until he was in his mid-forties. He finished with more than 32,000 runs and 56 hundreds in first-class cricket, most of them from the top of the order, while his tally of 758 catches emphasises his value in the field, where he was a star close in, especially at short leg. A Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1959, in retirement he became a postman in the Cotswolds.

Milton in Arsenal colours © The Cricketer
"There are so many reasons for the sadness we all feel," said John Light, the county's chairman. "Anyone who can play both cricket and football to international level has to be especially gifted and indeed Arthur was. He attributed his soccer success to the passing accuracy of his inside right partner at Arsenal, Jimmy Logie. There was no Logie however in the Aston Gate mud. Arthur came home from Arsenal and gave impetus to the Cities promotion drive. The extra dimension he brought ensured promotion.

"He made cricket seem so easy, playing largely off the back foot he always seemed to have so much time. Running between the wickets was his forte. Was there ever a better runner between the wickets? Cover fielders were exasperated as "roll and stroll" Arthur took single after single. 'I have never seen this man Milton take a difficult catch,' said a not-very-expert cricket-watcher. What he should have said was 'I have never seen Milton make a catch look difficult'. Such was his anticipation and sure handedness he was outstanding close to the wicket."