Thompson, Roland George, died on May 16, 2003, aged 70. Although he first played for Warwickshire as a 16-year-old, and showed startling form as a teenage fast bowler, Roly Thompson never quite fulfilled his cricketing promise. He shared the new ball with Fred Trueman for the Combined Services against the 1952 Indians and went home on leave from the RAF to take nine for 65 for Warwickshire in Nottinghamshire's first innings at Edgbaston, surprising batsmen and team-mates alike with his pace off the pitch. Though he became a regular wicket-taker, there was strong competition for places and Thompson often found himself in the Second XI. In 1959, linking up with Ossie Wheatley, he took 97 wickets at 17.96 to finish sixth in the national averages and help Warwickshire climb from 16th to fourth in the Championship. But his place was soon threatened by younger bowlers. Increasingly injury-prone and disillusioned he turned down a contract after the 1961 season and went to work at the Lockheed factory in Leamington. According to his former captain, M. J. K. Smith, "Roly probably shortened his career by trying to bowl too fast." Jack Bannister thought that Warwickshire did him no favours by preferring short-term prospects like Keith Dollery and Ossie Wheatley "just at a time when an extended run in the first team would have benefited club and player". He finished with a very respectable record of 479 wickets at 22.77.
Thoms, George Ronald, died on August 29, 2003, aged 76. Thoms played only two full seasons of Sheffield Shield cricket and in the first, 1951-52, he and Colin McDonald, his Melbourne University team-mate, formed such a successful opening partnership for Victoria that both made their Test debut in the final match of the West Indies series, as did Richie Benaud. It was Thoms's ninth first-class game. His batting was painstaking, and his future was decided when he trod on his wicket for 28 in the second innings. While McDonald went on to 47 Tests, Thoms had ten more games for Victoria before becoming a gynaecological surgeon and laser-surgery pioneer. He would certainly have played more Shield cricket but for his concern that a hand injury could jeopardise his future as a surgeon.
Tinniswood, Peter, who died of cancer on January 9, 2003, aged 66, was a prolific and original comic writer with an eye for the minutiae of English life. His genre was initially abrasive northern surrealism, but in the 1980s he turned his attention to cricket and through one character, a crusty cricket obsessive known as the Brigadier, created Tales from a Long Room, a fantasy on "our summer game" riddled with puns, verbal abuse and whimsical name-play. It began as a radio monologue with Robin Bailey, who had played Uncle Mort in Tinniswood's television masterpiece I Didn't Know You Cared, as the Brigadier, recalling the MCC tour of the Belgian Congo in 1914: "There were at least two outbreaks of cannibalism among spectators... which I am convinced were responsible for the loss of our most promising young leg-spinner, M. M. Rudman-Stott. He was sent out to field at deep third man in the match against an Arab Slavers' Country Eleven, and all we found of him after the tea interval was the peak of his Harlequins cap and half an indelible pencil." In time, Tinniswood transported listeners to the snug hamlet of Witney Scrotum, introducing them to Granny Roebuck who ran the cake shop, Mr Bruce Woodcock of The Times, E. W. "Gloria" Swanton, Winston Place, the former Lancashire batsman and one of Tinniswood's real-life heroes, and the recurrent Mr H. D. "Dickie" Bird. There was also romance. "Into my view she glided; a tall, slim sylphlike figure in purest white. My heart missed a beat. The sap rose in my loins. Dear God, she was the spitting image of Herbert Sutcliffe. Call it the impetuosity of youth if you will, but remember I had been out of the country for many years, serving my King and country in some of the remotest and most primitive outposts of his Empire. I had not seen a first-class cricketer for seven years." The monologues spawned several books, a stage play with Willie Rushton as the Brigadier, recalling army times in the Far East and the massive earthworks at Botham's Gut, a column in The Cricketer, even a shortlived television version. Though seriously ill, and able to communicate only through an electronic voicebox, Tinniswood continued to write prodigiously and was Wisden's book reviewer in 2000.
Toshack, Ernest Raymond Herbert, died on May 11, 2003, aged 88. Ernie Toshack - "the Black Prince" - had the briefest career of Don Bradman's 1948 Australian Invincibles. He was almost 31 when he made his debut for New South Wales, in November 1945, and his career was ended by a knee injury barely four years later. But in the years in between, he was integral to Australia's formidable attack, containing opposition batsmen with his accuracy and stamina while Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller drew breath. Toshack was a 6ft 2in left-arm swing bowler, who made himself a specialist on rain-affected wickets by reducing his pace from fast to brisk medium and developing an armoury that included offcutters, in- and away-swingers, a quicker delivery and an orthodox left-arm spinner's leg-break to the right-hander. Bowling a leg-stump line from over the wicket to two short legs and a silly mid-on, he was almost impossible to get away in England in 1948. Bradman called him "unique in every way". Orphaned at six, Toshack had represented New South Wales Second XI before a ruptured appendix in 1938 left him in a wheelchair for months and kept him from active war service. After moving to Sydney, he made a slow but steady comeback and took six for 18, routing New Zealand in the March 1946 match at Wellington that was retrospectively elevated to Test status. In his first Test against England, on a Brisbane sticky in 1946-47, Toshack's line had been so leg-stump that Bradman took him out to the middle on the fifth morning to show him where he should be pitching the ball in such conditions. Without a wicket overnight, Toshack responded with nine that day as England followed on and were beaten by an innings. Two months later, in the heat of Adelaide, he bowled 66 eight-ball overs for match figures of five for 135. But later that year Toshack caught the Indians at Brisbane, wrapping up their first innings with five for two in 19 balls and taking six for 29 in the second. However, he was already having knee trouble, and he made the trip to England only on a 3-2 majority vote. By the time he broke down in the Fourth Test, Australia had retained the Ashes. In England's second innings at Lord's, with Miller unable to bowl, Toshack took five for 40. A born No. 11, he was the fifth Australian to average over 50 that series thanks to a series of notouts. Toshack's rugged looks and dry humour made him a great favourite with the crowds, as did his theatrical appealing and equally theatrical off-field props (bowler hat, furled umbrella and large cigars). But when he retired, he joined a firm of builders and dropped out of sight. When the Invincibles held a reunion fifty years on, Toshack - his hair by then as white as it had once been dark - had to be reintroduced to some of his team-mates.
Tuppin, Alfred George , who died on July 20, 2003, aged 91, was a solidly built medium-pacer who played 23 games for Sussex before the war.
Unwin, Lieutenant-Colonel Ernest James, died on November 23, 2003, aged 91. Better known as an England and 1938 British Lions rugby three-quarter, Unwin played most of his cricket for Army sides and had seven Championship games for Essex, bowling brisk medium, in the 1930s.
Urquhart, John Rankin, died on June 16, 2003, aged 82. A late selection by Cambridge for the 1948 University Match, Urquhart was a fast-medium swing bowler who pulled a back muscle in the nets on the second morning at Lord's and was unable to bowl in Oxford's only innings. He had earned his place with match figures of seven for 66 at Bristol, where he and Trevor Bailey bowled out Gloucestershire for 123.
Van Geloven, Jack, who died on August 21, 2003, aged 69, was the last Yorkshireman to do the 1,000 runs-100 wickets double, a fact that is a staple of the more specialised type of cricket quiz since he was playing for Leicestershire at the time. Van Geloven achieved the feat in 1962 by taking his 100th wicket against Yorkshire, who were battling for yet another Championship, after plugging away for 52 overs in the match. Son of a Dutch professional footballer, young Jackie served apprenticeships with Yorkshire and Leeds United before choosing cricket over football, making his county debut in 1955 and a year later joining Leicestershire on a special registration. What he brought them were big in-swingers bowled from wide of the crease - he had opened the bowling in his three games for Yorkshire - and stolid concentration at the top of the order. He played on until 1966, by which time Grace Road was starting to favour spin, and then spent eight seasons with Northumberland. But from 1977 to 1983 he reappeared in the game as an umpire, and achieved a new kind of celebrity on the circuit. Van Geloven was not unlike Dickie Bird (though a much better player and a much inferior umpire), especially in the way in which he became the centrepiece of numerous anecdotes in which his role was always that a put-upon victim, usually in terror of being found out by Lord's. Though a brilliant, deadpan raconteur himself, especially over a pint or several, van Geloven never quite saw the humour in these situations, all of them well-attested though hard to pin down in place and time. On one occasion, Ray East - given out caught the ball before tea - insisted to Jack it was a bump ball and, with everyone else in on the joke, reappeared at the crease after the interval, loomed up to the umpire and said "You were joking, weren't you?" "Gerroff!" screamed a horrified Jack, "you'll get us all shot!" On a rainy day at Acklam Park, Middlesbrough, he was playfully pushed into the communal bath by a bored Graham Stevenson. Word got round, and van Geloven sought reassurance it would not get in the papers. Terry Brindle of the Yorkshire Post wound him up even more by saying he had already sent a paragraph but told him: "It's all right, Jack. I added the line `Drink was in no way involved.'" Once at Bradford he declined to give David Bairstow stumped off a wide until a small boy ran on with a scorebook containing the Laws and pointed to the relevant passage. Van Geloven later spent 12 years as head groundsman and coach at Fettes College, where he was regarded with great affection, and the school helped him through a difficult last illness, when he suffered several heart attacks.
Waddington, Alfred, who died on December 10, 2002, aged 87, was a left-arm seamer and the older brother of the more famous Jack. Either side of World War II, Alfred played alongside him in all but three of his 22 games for Griqualand West. Against Rhodesia at Kimberley in 1946-47 they took 18 of the 20 wickets, with Alfred returning a career-best five for 52 in the first innings.
Wade, Walter Wareham, died on May 31, 2003, aged 88, in the Durban house where he was born and had lived all his life. His 1932 Natal Schools teammate and lifelong friend, Dereck Dowling, had died the day before. "Billy" Wade began and ended his first-class career as a wicket-keeper/batsman against Australian touring sides, making his provincial debut in 1935-36 alongside his older brother Herbie, then South Africa's captain. By the time MCC toured in 1938-39, however, he was playing purely as a batsman, with team-mate Bob Williams reckoned to be South Africa's premier wicket-keeper. But the selectors sprang a surprise by giving Wade the gloves, and his Test debut, to strengthen South Africa's batting. "In the event," he wrote, "although I kept pretty well in the First and Second Tests and most of the Third, I made no runs to speak of... Being the third man in Tom Goddard's hat-trick [in the First Test at Johannesburg] didn't help my confidence." Nor did it help that, being a naturally gifted, freescoring batsman with time to play his strokes, he took Test match batting a shade conservatively. Conceding no byes as England compiled 559 for nine in just over two days at Cape Town confirmed his own assessment of his glove-work, but in the first of the two Durban Tests he failed to stump Eddie Paynter soon after he reached his half-century. Paynter went on to make 243 and Wade was dropped. It would be ten years before he next played Test cricket although, after being captured at Tobruk in 1942, he did captain South Africa in PoW "Tests" against Australia at Stalag 344, Lamsdorff. He opted out of cricket until late 1947 to concentrate on building up his accountancy practice, but once re-established as Natal's keeper, Wade hit form again, and kept in all five Tests against England in 1948-49. When the Australians toured a year later, the runs dried up, and after three Tests he was dropped and soon retired, although he returned as an umpire between 1966 and 1974. When he stood in the First Test at Cape Town in 1969- 70 Wade became the first South African to play and umpire at this level.
Weekes, Donald Rudolph, died on November 29, 2003, aged 63. This Bajan blaster was never a first-class cricketer but a yarn-spinner of international calibre who was the subject of a lengthy profile in The Cricketer in 1975, headlined "The best batsman never to have played Test cricket?" Among various implausibilities, the description of his century "for Barbados against Trinidad" as "one of the most brilliant" seen on the Bridgetown ground omits the detail that it was for Barbados B. Tony Cozier, who worked with Weekes on the Daily News sports desk in Bridgetown in the mid-1960s, remembers him holding listeners spellbound with "descriptions of fantastic innings in far-flung places, a first-hand assessment of Muhammad Ali's cross [he claimed he had sparred with Ali in Tokyo] and analysis of the young Viv Richards." "I see a lot of Don Weekes in that boy," he would say. Certainly, they were similar in build, method and power. But Weekes's cavalier batting was given fullest expression outside the Caribbean. Living in California, he captained the United States against Canada in 1969 and 1970, and in 1972 hit their first hundred in the series since 1898. Wisden also records him making double-hundreds for American clubs touring British Columbia and England in 1970. But neither Wisden, nor any other source, authenticates his claims to have scored 700 not out in an innings in India, totalled 2,879 runs for Blackpool in his first English season, or played Othello in Moscow.
Weir, Gordon Lindsay, died on October 31, 2003, having been, at 95 years 151 days, considered the oldest surviving Test cricketer. That distinction passed to M. J. Gopalan of India (very briefly, see page 1543). Known as "Dad" for most of his adult life because, as his Auckland and New Zealand team-mate Merv Wallace put it, "his hair thinned out very quickly and he looked older than the rest of us", Weir played the first of his 11 Tests at 21 against England in 1929- 30. He had made his Auckland debut two years earlier as a lower-order mediumpace all-rounder, but by the time he left for England with the 1931 New Zealanders he was arguably their leading right-hand batsman. As well as three half-centuries against the MCC tourists, he had hit four hundreds in his previous five Plunket Shield games. His defence was sound, he had a good selection of shots and, when he failed to score as freely as he expected on arriving in England, his tenacity helped him adjust to the different environment. But in an often overmatched team, he was only a modest run-getter, and the gritty unbeaten 74 he scored as New Zealand went down by an innings at Christchurch against South Africa remained his best score. He did poorly in England in 1937. But Weir was a useful, adaptable cricketer, capable of opening the batting or bowling as required. He played on for Auckland and remained involved in his career as a schoolmaster, spending many years as selector-coach of Auckland's Under-20 teams for the national Brabin Cup tournament. In the early 1930s he also played rugby for Auckland.
West, Peter Anthony, who died on September 2, 2003, aged 83, was the beaming and unflustered front man for BBC's televised cricket coverage for nearly 20 years until his retirement in 1986. The smile was genuine: Peter West was a charming and courteous man with a boyish enthusiasm for sport that never left him. But he had an acute sense of the need to marry sport and commerce, and his most lasting contribution may well be as a pioneer of sporting sponsorship. At Cranbrook School he won colours at five games and was captain of cricket for three years: post-war employment as a sports reporter for the Exchange Telegraph agency seemed the perfect job. His break came in 1947 while covering cricket at Taunton. C. B. Fry's telephonist failed to materialise and West offered to phone his copy through. In return Fry, liking the clarity of the young man's voice, promised a recommendation to the BBC, with West wisely not letting on that he had already failed a newsreading audition. By August he was commentating on the South African tour and a year later was covering the London Olympics. He was in the commentary team when the BBC first televised Test cricket nationally in 1952 - he had been doing rugby since 1950 - and soon made his debut at Wimbledon. Aside from sport he hosted light entertainment programmes, and from 1957 to 1972, much to the amusement of the rugby fraternity, West was the dinnerjacketed compère of Come Dancing. There was even a stint presenting Miss World. He also set up the Playfair cricket and rugby annuals, editing the former until 1953, wrote books on the 1953 and 1956 Ashes, covered cricket for The Times, and was their rugby correspondent for 11 years. In 1970 he set up the sports marketing agency West Nally, which married the entrepreneurial vision of Patrick Nally with West's reputation and ambassadorial skills. The company were involved with the Benson and Hedges Cup from its start in 1972 and, five years later, managed Cornhill Insurance's ground-breaking sponsorship of Test matches in England. After retiring from television, West was offered the chance to cover the 1986-87 Ashes tour for the Daily Telegraph. He leapt at the chance to fill in one of the last gaps in his sporting CV, understandably imagining that the Telegraph expected him to cover the cricket in his own Corinthian and by then rather oldfashioned way. Instead, a tragi-comic few months ensued, with the Telegraph, which was in a confused period, sending increasingly testy messages demanding that West match the latest revelations or speculations in the tabloids. The experience did produce one last cricket book, Clean Sweep, to sit alongside his engaging memoir, Flannelled Fool and Muddied Oaf. West then headed for a happy retirement in the West Country, cultivating his garden.
White, Brigadier William Michael Eastwood CBE, died on February 15, 2003, aged 89. Mike White was a medium-pace bowler who played occasionally for Cambridge in 1937 without winning a Blue. But he bowled well enough for Combined Services against Northamptonshire in 1947 to be asked to play for the county when available, and he removed three Somerset batsmen in six balls in both innings on his debut at Weston. He appeared in only four more county games, but achieved a footnote in cricket history by scoring two separate hundreds in a day, in a non-first-class game for Aldershot Services against MCC in 1949. He had bowled 41 overs unchanged the previous day. Brigadier White was aide-decamp to the Queen from 1963 to 1969.
Wilenkin, Boris Charles Gregory, died on March 18, 2003, aged 69. Harrow's opening bat in his three years in the XI, Wilenkin played for Cambridge in the 1956 University match, making seven and 20. He played 16 first-class matches for Cambridge and Free Foresters.
Willatt, Guy Longfield, who died on June 11, 2003, aged 85, was one of Derbyshire's most successful captains when he was allowed the summer term off from teaching at Repton to lead them from 1951 to 1954. Willatt played some first-class cricket either side of the war for Cambridge, Nottinghamshire and Scotland, and in 1946 gained a soccer Blue as a no-nonsense wing-half. A similar philosophy was evident both in his left-handed batting, with his crouching stance, determined defence, strong driving and cutting, and in his captaincy. From 1952 to 1954, when he left Repton to become headmaster at Heversham Grammar School in Westmorland, he hit a thousand Championship runs each season and Derbyshire finished fourth, sixth and third in the table. His leadership was distinguished by his willingness to press for victory and fixed on what he termed "method cricket" that was "gritty, purposive, combative, intensely competitive", without compromising his belief in fair play. Abolishing separate dressing-rooms for amateurs and professionals gained him the players' respect, as did winning the toss in 13 of their 15 home games in 1952. In 1969, aged 51 and headmaster of Pocklington School in Yorkshire, he opened the batting and scored 40 for their old boys' side, Pocklington Pixies, in the first-ever National Club Championship final against Hampstead. Guy Willatt returned to live near Repton in retirement, and was chairman of Derbyshire's cricket committee from 1985 to 1990, becoming a sagacious ally and mentor for their young captain, Kim Barnett, and later club president. One of his sons, Jonathan, was a Cambridge Blue in 1989.
Wishart, Brian Charles, was killed in a car crash in Harare on July 26, 2003, aged 55. He was the father of the Zimbabwean Test batsman, Craig Wishart, and had himself represented the country at various levels when it was Rhodesia.
Woodhouse, Anthony, died on January 17, 2003, aged 71. Tony Woodhouse was one of the most dedicated of all cricket followers. Until a serious road accident in 1992, he had attended every Yorkshire game at Headingley bar one since 1945, and had not missed a Yorkshire home game anywhere since 1957. He also had a cricket library with more than 12,000 titles along with a collection of cricket and football cards said to exceed 35,000. He represented Leeds district on the Yorkshire committee for 15 years from 1978, sat on its cricket committee and became a vice-president, as well as being curator and honorary librarian at Headingley. He wrote The History of Yorkshire County Cricket Club (1989) and A Who's Who of Yorkshire County Cricket Club (1992), contributed to The Cricketer on the Yorkshire leagues, and was a commonsense chairman of the Association of Cricket Statisticians from 1981 to 1993.
Wright, Geoffrey Thomas, died on April 2, 2003, aged 74. Geoff Wright, father of New Zealand captain John Wright, was a batsman who played one game for Canterbury in 1955-56. His twin, Allan, was manager of the New Zealand team to England in 1983.
Zulfiqar Ali, who died of cancer on May 10, 2003, aged 33, opened the bowling for Pakistan against Australia in the final of the 1988 World Youth Cup at Adelaide. He later played for Multan and PIA.