Paul Gibb

GIBB, PAUL ANTHONY, who died suddenly at Guildford on December 7 at the age of 64, was a cricketer who should be judged by the figures he achieved. It would have needed a shrewd critic to discern, when watching him play a long innings, that he was more than a determined and solid University and County batsman. Never did one catch a glimpse of that spark of genius which normally marks the Test player. The figures tell a very different story. In his first innings for Yorkshire he made 157 not out. For his four University matches he averaged 54, making a century in his last year and in the previous year being stupidly run out for 87. His average for his eight Tests was 44.69. In his first, against South Africa, he scored 93 and 106; in the final Test of that series 120. In the first Test after the War, against India, he made 60 and helped Hardstaff to add 182 badly needed runs for the fifth wicket. In his early days a tendency to overdo the hook was often fatal, but once he had conquered this it was indeed a problem to get him out. He was quite happy to rely on his immensely strong back play and to let the runs come at their own rate: his patience seemed inexhaustible. Two Gibbs on a side could have been difficult and three intolerable: one often invaluable.

With his wicket-keeping it was different: not even his best friends would have claimed that he was anywhere near the best of his day. Yet after playing purely as a batsman for Cambridge in his first year while S. C. Griffith, a far better performer, kept and keeping himself in his second year when Griffith was injured, in his third year he was given the preference completely and Griffith did not play at all. This aroused considerable criticism, but not as much as when in the next season, Ames being injured, Gibb was selected for the third and fourth Tests over the heads of a number of better keepers including Arthur Wood, who was almost always preferred to him by Yorkshire. In fact the third Test was completely washed out by rain and by the fourth Gibb was injured and so had to wait for the South African tour that winter before actually taking the field for England.

On that tour he was second-string to Ames, but in 1946 he kept in the first two Tests against India and the following winter in the First Test in Australia, before on each occasion making way for Evans.

To summarise his career, he was in the XI at St Edward's, Oxford, played for Cambridge from 1935 to 1938 and for Yorkshire from 1935 to 1946. After returning that winter from Australia, he was seen no more in first-class cricket until 1951 when he appeared for Essex as a professional, the first cricket blue ever to turn professional. Though now no longer a candidate for Tests, playing for Essex for six seasons he made a thousand runs in four of them, besides proving a serviceable keeper. He dropped out of the Essex side in 1956 and from 1957 to 1966 was a first-class umpire. At the time of his death he had for some years been a bus-driver in Guildford.

© John Wisden & Co