Eddie Leadbeater 1927-2011 April 18, 2011

Former England legspinner Eddie Leadbeater dies

Former Yorkshire and England legspinner Eddie Leadbeater has died in a nursing home in Huddersfield at the age of 83.

Leadbeater played twice for England, against India in 1951-52, early in a career which spanned a decade and was over by the time he was 31. His early promise, which led to his call up for the India tour, never really materialised and he only played one full season after that trip.

He played 81 matches in his seven seasons with Yorkshire, from 1949 to 1956, before joining Warwickshire for two years, where he played a further 37 matches before his retirement at the end of 1958.

His talent was spotted by Yorkshire as they sought to rebuild immediately after the war. In 1950, aged only 22, he had his best summer with the ball, taking 84 wickets at 26.80, and he followed that with 81 wickets in 1951, leading to his call-up for England.

On tour he was sparingly used and struggled to reproduce his domestic form on generally lifeless pitches - he managed two wickets in the two Tests he did play. His debut, at Bombay, was not one to remember. Fielding in the unfamiliar position of second slip he dropped two crucial catches on the first day, injuring his hand in the process, and then after taking his one wicket pulled a thigh muscle and was largely a passenger for the rest of the match.

When he returned to England he was not able to hold down a regular place in the Yorkshire side, and at the end of 1956, after only six appearances in the previous three years, he moved to Warwickshire.

After another lean summer, he was a regular in the side in 1958, and he bowed out of county cricket with his one and only first-class hundred to go with his 49 wickets. He continued to play, mainly in the Huddersfield league, where he took more than 1,000 wickets for Almondbury before finally retiring from the game at the age of 68.

"He was the most modest of men, passionate about cricket but always self-effacing about his achievements in the game," his nephew Marcus Turner told the Press Association. "He was a very popular figure and no-one had a bad word to say about him. His great friend in his early days with Yorkshire was Fred Trueman. The two of them were always joking around.

"In his young days, he was also pretty nifty on the football field - he was a great allrounder. Many years after his county cricket career was over, he said: 'I wish I was back as a 14-year-old. I'd do it all again'.''

In 118 first-class matches he took 289 wickets at 27.49 and scored 1548 runs at 15.17. He was one of a small number of those to have played for England and yet never to have received a county cap.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of ESPNcricinfo and managing editor of ESPN Digital Media in Europe, the Middle East and Africa