Tom Cartwright 1935-2007 April 30, 2007

England seamer Tom Cartwright dies

Tom Cartwright: almost unplayable on uncovered pitches © Playfair Cricket Monthly
Tom Cartwright, who played five Tests for England in the mid 1960s as a medium-pace seamer, has died at the age of 71. He had been seriously ill since suffering a massive heart attack in March.

Cartwright, a car worker's son, was one of the last of a line of bowlers who was able to exploit uncovered pitches to the full, although that reputation possibly cost him the chance of more than the five caps he did earn as many felt he would struggle on the more placid covered Test pitches.

Blessed with a high action and immaculate control - as well as the ability to swing and seam the ball both ways - Cartwright was particularly effective on green or crumbling surfaces. He made his debut for Warwickshire as a 17-year-old in 1952, playing as a specialist middle-order batsman, rather limited but quite effective. He did not command a regular place until 1956 and it was not until 1959 that he began to be taken seriously as a bowler.

In 1962 he took 106 wickets and made 1176 runs, the only time he achieved the double even though he took 100 wickets eight times and passed 1000 runs on three occasions.

His Test debut, against Australia, came in 1964, and he was unfortunate to make it on the deadest of Old Trafford pitches where the first innings were not completed until late on the fifth day. He took 2 for 118 and was retained for the Oval Test where he returned 3 for 110.

He visited South Africa that winter, doing well with both bat and ball in the tour matches but struggling in his one Test outing, and he added his final two England caps the following summer, taking his Test-best of 6 for 94 in his last appearance, against the South Africans.

He continued to reap rewards in county cricket, and in 1968 he was embroiled in a storm when chosen ahead of Basil D'Oliveira for that winter's tour of South Africa. He subsequently withdrew with an injury, leading to the MCC drafting in D'Oliveira, a move which ultimately led to the cancellation of the trip and the start of South Africa's international isolation. It seems unlikely that Cartwright would have gone anyway. In 1969 he turned down a coaching post in Rhodesia and in 1970 he told Somerset he would not play against South Africa (the tour was subsequently scrapped).

He quit Warwickshire for Taunton at the end of 1969, where he had been offered the job of coach at Millfield School, although the switch was contested by the Edgbaston authorities. He continued playing for them until 1976, and as coach between 1974 and 1976 he was widely credited with being instrumental in the progress of the young Ian Botham.

In 1977 he walked out on Somerset after a heated row with the county chairman of his fitness and became Glamorgan's cricket manager, playing a handful of times for them in 1977, staying at Cardiff until 1983. In later years he was director of coaching for the Welsh Cricket Association.

Ian Botham, who Cartwright coached as a youngster, said that he "didn't look up to many people when I was a callow youngster, but I looked up to Tom." He added: "Until I came across him at Somerset, just about every coach I had come across was sure my bowling wasn't worth the time and effort because county cricket was already full of fast-medium seamers. Tom Cartwright gave me the belief I could cut the mustard as a bowler and taught me the art of swing. He was a real diamond, a lovely man."

In all, Cartwright scored 13,710 runs at 21.32, including seven hundreds, and took 1536 wickets at 19.11 with a best of 8 for 59. He was less effective as a batsman in one-day cricket, but unsurprisingly he was a most useful bowler. In his five Tests he took 15 wickets at 36.26. He was awarded the MBE in 2000.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo