Norman Riches

RICHES, NORMAN VAUGHAN HURRY, died in hospital on November 6 at the age of 92. He was a batsman who, had he in his prime played for a first-class county and been able to devote his time to the game, must have been a candidate for Test Matches. He had the natural ability, the technique and the temperament. He first played for Glamorgan in 1901 and in the next nineteen years scored heavily in the Minor Counties Championship (in 1911 he made 1015 runs with an average of 92), but it was only on their promotion in 1921 when he was 38 that his first-class career really began.

Even then 1921 was his only full season. He managed to play a number of times each year till 1929 and, as he grew older, there were those who suggested that he was deliberately picking his matches in order to avoid the stronger bowling sides and particularly the sides which possessed really fast bowlers. These insinuations must have been silenced when in 1928 at the age of 45 he picked the Lancashire match at Old Trafford. That year Lancashire were Champions for the third time running: McDonald was still a great fast bowler and he and Dick Tyldesley were perhaps the most formidable combination in the country. Riches's answer was a superb second innings of 140. After 1929 he played little, though his final appearance was not till 1934.

It will be seen that he was seldom in full practice. Moreover he was usually the only batsman of real class in a very weak side. In the circumstances his record over these thirteen years of 4419 runs with an average of 33.99 is remarkable and gives some idea of what he might have accomplished twenty years earlier. He combined an impenetrable defence on the worst of wickets with intense powers of concentration and yet at the same time was by no means a slow scorer--certainly a far quicker one than the average spectator realised. At the beginning of his innings his runs came mainly in ones and twos on the leg side, but he had in fact a full range of strokes, was very quick on his feet and fast between the wickets and was always looking for a chance to score. He was a master of the tactical single designed to bring about a rearrangement of the field, and, having achieved this object, took particular pleasure in putting the next ball into the gap created.

Another stroke, characteristic also of Arthur Shrewsbury and Harry Altham, was to lift the ball over the heads of the in-fieldsmen with just sufficient strength to clear them and secure two runs. The opposition thus found it extremely difficult to peg him down and it is small wonder that at times he would reduce bowlers to impotent fury. Indeed he regarded it as his duty to establish his ascendancy over them. He was a thorough cricketer, a beautiful field whether in the covers or the deep and a competent wicket-keeper, thought, being a dentist he was reluctant to keep except in an emergency for fear of damaging his hands. He captained Glamorgan in 1921 and in 1929 shared the captaincy with J. C. Clay. Later he was for sixteen years the county's Vice-Chairman.

© John Wisden & Co