1944

Yorkshire captain's tribute

My association with Hedley began during my first game for Yorkshire second eleven at Middlesbrough in June 1930. Being new to that type of cricket, I kept a careful eye on what was going on and the fellows with whom I was playing. Our skipper, Brigadier R. C. Chichester-Constable, D.S.O., duly introduced me to all the team, and my first impressions of Hedley were that he was a very quiet type of man who did not say very much but had a great sense of humour.

At that time he played for the first eleven when Rhodes was not available, and at the end of the season he topped the English bowling averages. There was nothing in his conversation to lead anyone into thinking that he had ever played for the first team. However, as the game progressed I kept my eye on him and found him to be quite casual about everything he did. There was no fuss; he just got on with the game. An occasional appeal to the umpire; if it was refused he made no signs whatsoever as to what he thought about it.

I came away from that game thinking that there was a man who would not be driven by anyone into doing anything that he did not want to do, and how true that turned out to be. When I became skipper of the first eleven I found that Hedley would work hard all day and every day in his own little way, no fuss or hurry or rush. If you studied his bowling action closely, that gave you an insight to his character--steady, even, coupled with determination.

I look back upon my cricketing days with Hedley and find that he never really changed from the Hedley I first met at Middlesbrough on that June day. His advice was sound and good. He was prepared to sit and talk with anyone on most subjects, and of course, like most of us, would talk cricket all day and all night. His bowling always improved, and, as we all know, he played for England so often that he became an automatic choice like Hobbs and Sutcliffe in their day.

His character and disposition never changed amidst all his many triumphs; he just remained Hedley Verity. On many occasions, in order to win a match, I turned to him and said, Well Hedley, everything depends on you. That was sufficient; although he might be very tired indeed, his determination to help the side win was something to wonder at. If I had given him a direct order, a lot of that determination would not have come to the fore. It was not his nature to be ordered about, although he never gave any outward sign of resentment. His answer was to keep going along in his own sweet way. He knew what he could do and what he could not do.

Hedley lost his life playing a game of war, and I can guarantee that as he lay wounded on the battlefield in Sicily the grim determination to go forward prevailed more that ever before. His death draws a line under his name and the finish to a remarkable cricket career. England and Yorkshire lose a great player and I a great friend. I feel honoured to have met and played with him.

© John Wisden & Co