Obituary

Nobby Clark

CLARK, EDWARD WINCHESTER, inevitably known as "Nobby", who died on April 28, 1982, near King's Lynn, aged 79, possessed every qualification of a great bowler except temperament. With a lovely loose left arm, which almost brushed his ear as it came over, he had a classic action, his right shoulder pointing straight at the batsman. He was at his best really fast and, though he was well capable of bowling, like Voce, to a leg-side field, was probably most effective round the wicket when the ball, swinging in and breaking away, would produce catches in the slips if the batsman was good enough to touch it. But he was a perfectionist and anything outside his control which interfered with that perfection - a dropped catch, an insecure foothold, a tactless word from his captain or one of his companions - was quite sufficient to put him off.

It was his misfortune that his county, Northamptonshire, was throughout his career one of the weakest sides that has ever played in the Championship: not only did he have to do more than his fair share of bowling, but perhaps no fast bowler since Buckenham of Essex had so many chances dropped off him. A further annoyance to him was the rate at which his vis-à-vis, that splendid bowler Albert Thomas, got through his overs, an undue proportion of which were maidens, thus robbing Clark of what he considered as a rightful rest. His cricket began and ended with his bowling: neither batting nor fielding did he regard as any business of his.

Though he was born near Peterborough, it was success in league cricket in Yorkshire, where he was an engineering apprentice, that brought him to the notice of the Northamptonshire authorities and he made a promising start in 1922, heading the averages with twenty wickets at 17.10. There followed two or three seasons of varying fortune, but in 1925 he came right to the front with 84 wickets at 17.79 and began to be talked of as a Test match prospect. He played in the Test trials in 1927, but in 1928, handicapped by injury, he had a poor season and he had to wait till 1929 for his first Test, against South Africa at The Oval, where he was criticised for overdoing leg-theory.

A row with Northamptonshire, whom he left temporarily for league cricket, spoiled his chances of playing against the Australians in 1930. However, he returned to the county in 1932, and in 1933 he played at The Oval and Old Trafford against West Indies, bowling well without spectacular success. That winter he had a successful tour in India under D. R. Jardine and in 1934 was picked at Old Trafford and again at The Oval against Australia.

At Old Trafford he bowled well without any luck, but in the second innings at The Oval he took five for 98, his victims being Ponsford, Brown, McCabe, Kippax and Chipperfield, while he twice failed by only the narrowest margin to bowl Bradman. This was his last Test, but he continued to bowl with success until 1936. In 1937, handicapped by injury, he had a poor season and dropped out of the county side, but he returned in 1946 to bowl with at least some trace of his former greatness. A few matches in 1947 concluded his career. In all first-class cricket he took 1,203 wickets at 21 runs each.

© John Wisden & Co