Obituary

Charlie Parker

PARKER, CHARLES WARRINGTON LEONARD, who died on July 11, aged 74, was for many years one of the finest slow left-arm bowlers in first-class cricket. Recommended to Gloucestershire by Dr. W. G. Grace, he joined the county staff in 1903, but not until after the First World War did he achieve real prominence. Then in every summer from 1920 to 1935, when he retired, he took over 100 wickets. In five of these seasons his victims numbered more than 200, for in 1922 he dismissed 206 batsmen; in 1924, 204; in 1925, 222; in 1926, 213; and in 1931, 219. His full figures during a distinguished career were 3,278 wickets--a record surpassed only by W. Rhodes and A. P. Freeman--at a cost of 19.46 runs each; he hit 8,197 runs, average 10.33, and brought off 235 catches.

When pitches favoured him he could be well-nigh unplayable and by virtue of his command of spin and flight and, above all, his accuracy of length, he was rarely easy to hit. His bowling feats were too numerous to be chronicled in full, but they included six "hat-tricks," three of them in the 1924 season and two in the game with Middlesex at Bristol. He took all ten wickets for 79 runs in the first Somerset innings at Bristol in 1921 and on eight different occasions obtained nine wickets in an innings. One of his most remarkable performances was at Gloucester in 1925 when he played an outstanding part in the crushing defeat of Essex. He disposed of nine batsmen--A. C. Russell was run out--for 44 runs in the first innings and eight for 12 in 17 overs in the second, achieving a match analysis of seventeen wickets for 56 runs.

In his benefit match at Bristol in 1922 when, on rain-damaged turf in the first Yorkshire innings, he took nine wickets for 36 runs--eight without assistance from the field--he hit the stumps five times with consecutive deliveries, but the second was a no-hall. He took part in the historic "tie" match at Bristol between Gloucestershire and W. M. Woodfull's Australian side of 1930. When the touring team, set to make 118 to win, scored half the runs for the first wicket, they appeared assured of easy victory. Then Parker, erratic at first, exploited a worn spot with such success that the last nine wickets fell for 58. Parker came out with figures of seven wickets for 54 runs, a feat which doubtless afforded him the more satisfaction as in the previous Australian fixture, the fifth Test, he had attended at The Oval but was not included in the England eleven beaten by an innings and 39 runs. It was from Parker's bowling that W. R. Hammond held eight of the ten catches he brought off in the game with Surrey at Cheltenham in 1928.

Despite his consistently fine performances, Parker played only once for his country, against Australia at Old Trafford in 1921 when, in a weather-spoiled match, he earned an analysis of 28--16--32--2. He toured South Africa and the West Indies with teams led by the Hon. L. H. (later Lord) Tennyson. For two seasons after his retirement he served as a first-class umpire and for a time later as coach at Cranleigh School. Besides his cricketing skill, he was well known in the West Country for his prowess at golf.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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