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June 18, 2007
Ben Brocklehurst, who briefly captained Somerset but went on to play a big role in the establishment of The Cricketer Cup and the National Village Knockout, as well as being a long-time proprietor of The Cricketer, has died at the age of 85.
He had a brief county career, an amateur drafted in to lead a Somerset side that had finished bottom of the Championship in 1952 and who was one of the last amateur captains. The move failed and Wisden noted that "inexperienced amateurs could not solve their problems". Somerset finished bottom by some way under his leadership in 1953 and 1954, losing 37 of the 56 games they played. Brocklehurst could lead by example either, struggling with the bat. "None tried harder than Brocklehurst," observed Wisden, "but the county really needed a more experienced and talented leader."
But his lasting legacy came off the field. In 1967, he helped to set up The Cricketer Cup, a competition for the leading 32 public schools, and in 1972 the National Village Knockout, for village sides the length and breadth of the country. Brocklehurst and his family were hands-on organisers, and both competitions still flourish today. The village final at Lord's every September is one of the highlights of the club-cricket season.
A farmer by trade, he moved into publishing and took over The Cricketer in 1970 at a time the magazine was on the verge of closing. Through sheer hard work he kept it going, merging with Playfair Cricket Monthly in 1973 and subsequently adding a travel arm to the business. In 2003 it was sold to the John Wisden Group and The Cricketer was merged with Wisden Cricket Monthly to form The Wisden Cricketer.
Brocklehurst's daughter Charmaine married Richard Hutton and their eldest son, Ben, currently plays for Middlesex.
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