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May 22, 2012
Former Lancashire wicketkeeper Frank Parr has died in a London hospice at the age of 83.
Parr played 48 matches for the county between 1951 and 1954 and was considered a more than useful keeper and lower-order batsman, winning his county cap in his first full season in 1953.
But when Cyril Washbrook took over as Lancashire captain the following summer it was apparent Parr's face did not fit. The new skipper wanted smartness and focus from his players and took exception to Parr's general attitude as well as his other great love, jazz music.
Washbrook did not think his wicketkeeper playing the trombone in the Merseysippi Jazz Band in Liverpool was suitable and so he was not offered a new contract at the end of the season.
His his book Opening Up, jazz legend George Melly explained. "The reason had nothing to do with Frank's wicket-keeping, but it had a lot to do with Frank. The professional cricketer is not just a man who plays cricket for money. He has a social role. He is expected to behave within certain defined limits. He can be a 'rough diamond', even 'a bit of a character', but he must know his place. If he smells of sweat, it must be fresh sweat. He must dress neatly and acceptably. His drinking must be under control. He must know when to say 'sir'.
"Frank, we were soon to discover, had none of these qualifications. He was an extreme social risk, a complicated rebel whose world swarmed with demons. He concealed a formidable and well-read intelligence behind a stylised oafishness. He used every weapon to alienate acceptance. Even within the jazz world, that natural refuge for the anti-social, Frank stood out as an exception. We never knew the reason for his quarrel with the captain of Lancashire, but after a month or two in his company we realised it must have been inevitable."
After a final summer playing in Lancashire, Parr moved to London where he became a full time musician before going on to manage Acker Bilk, eventually turning to band agency work and a career in advertising.
© ESPN EMEA Ltd.
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