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June 20, 2008
Wells was one of the old school who regarded cricket as something to enjoy rather than a job. A man of wide girth and rolling gait, he had - in the words of Michael Parkinson - "a summer's day in his face and laughter in his soul". The son of a blacklisted trade unionist in Gloucester, he never changed from the happy-go-lucky club cricketer he had been when first summoned to play for the county. His batting was agricultural, his fielding leisurely and he bowled brisk offspin off a one-pace run that caught many batsmen unaware. The tales of him are legion: from his exchanges with his amateur captain to the mix-ups running between the wickets. "For God's sake, call," Sam Cook once begged him and back came the reply: "Heads."
"As a batsman he really had only one shot, a great agricultural mow over mid-wicket, but it was spectacular when it connected," wrote Stephen Chalke on the Gloucestershire website. "As a fielder he was even less like a modern cricketer. A leisurely figure on the boundary, he liked to chat to the nearby spectators, on one occasion contriving to hold a catch while juggling a cup of tea in his other hand."
He played 302 first-class matches between 1951 and 1965, finishing just short of 1000 wickets with 998 scalps at 24.26. His career-best 8 for 31 came in 1953 against Somerset and he finished his career with six years at Nottinghamshire, where there was less help for his bowling.
He attended the opening day of the recent Gloucester festival but had since become unwell.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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