Obituary

Dusty Rhodes

RHODES, ALBERT ENNION GROCOTT ( DUSTY), died at his home at Barlow, near Chesterfield, on October 18, 1983, aged 67. Born in Cheshire, he came into the Derbyshire side in 1937 and showed great promise as an all-rounder, scoring 363 runs with an average of 21.35 and taking 25 wickets at 27.72. Originally a leg-spinner, he was now bowling fast-medium out-swingers with a long run which put an undue strain on a slight physique. Indeed, his record throughout his career suggests that he was never sufficiently robust to be a genuine all-rounder: in the seasons in which he scored runs his bowling usually suffered and vice versa. Thus in 1938, while he made 916 runs at an average of 27.75, he took only eighteen wickets and in 1939, when his batting was disappointing his bowling was less expensive: in any case the county's bowling was then so strong that he was only used as a change.

By 1946 things were very different: most of the pre-war bowlers had gone and Rhodes was used freely both as an opener and a leg-spinner. Not surprisingly his bowling in this dual role was expensive, his 75 wickets being obtained at 29.90 and not surprisingly, too, he met with little success as a bat. Thereafter he concentrated on leg-breaks and googlies, but though he had considerable powers of spin and might at any time take valuable wickets, he never attained consistent accuracy. However, he performed the hat-trick five times, a number which only three bowlers have exceeded. By far his best season with the ball was 1950, when he took 130 wickets at 22.19.

In 1951 he was very expensive but none the less was selected for the MCC tour of India and Pakistan that winter. The opening matches showed that his spin, though costly, might be valuable and it was a blow to the side when he had to return home before the first Test for an operation. In 1952 he had a good season, taking 83 wickets at 24.95. This was almost the end of his career, though he played in a few matches in 1953 and 1954. Since the war he had been regarded largely as a bowler, but in 1949 he again showed what a good bat he could be, scoring 1,156 runs with an average of 25.68. Significantly that year his 66 wickets cost 38.62 each. In all he made in first-class cricket 7,363 runs with an average of 18.98, including four centuries, and took 661 wickets at 28.83.

A determined batsman, he had a sound defence but was also a powerful off-side player and could score fast. Against Nottinghamshire at Ilkeston in 1949 he made a hundred before lunch. His highest score was 127 against Somerset at Taunton in the same season. From 1959 to 1979 he was a first-class umpire and stood in eight Tests. He had also coached at both Oxford and Cambridge. He was father of Harold Rhodes, the England fast bowler.

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