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Full name Robert Wakefield Clarke
Born April 22, 1924, Finedon, Northamptonshire
Died August 3, 1981, Sherborne, Dorset (aged 57 years 103 days)
Major teams Northamptonshire
Batting style Left-hand bat
Bowling style Left-arm fast
CLARKE, ROBERT WAKEFIELD, died suddenly at Sherborne on August 3, 1981, aged 57. A fast left-armer, he did much useful work for Northamptonshire between 1947 and 1957, without ever quite fulfilling expectations. Coming into the side just as the great Nobby Clark, also a fast left-armer, was retiring, he must have seemed the answer to prayer, and when in his third season he took 88 wickets his prospects seemed good, even though they cost 28 runs each. Three disappointing seasons followed, but in 1953 he took 97 wickets at just under 25 runs each and hopes were revived. However, that was almost the end of his success: he became more and more expensive and finally dropped out in 1957.
His failure was certainly not due to want of trying: shortish and stocky, he was prepared to bowl all day and was indeed in temperament a complete contrast to the volatile Nobby. But, though he could at times unleash that beautiful ball which pitches on the leg stump and whips across to the off, the real genius was lacking. He was also handicapped by cartilage trouble. Despite some fine performances, thirteen for 190 against Surrey at Northampton in 1950 and eight for 26 against Hampshire at Peterborough in 1951, his career figures of 484 wickets at 34.60 runs apiece tell their own tale. Apart from his bowling he was a useful, if unorthodox, tail-end hitter and a good fielder near the wicket. Later he coached successively at the RNC, Dartmouth, Christ's Hospital and Sherborne.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
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