Obituary, 2009

Tommy Greenhough


Tommy Greenhough at The Oval after his Test appearance against India where he took five wickets, August 13, 1959
Tommy Greenhough had two memorable seasons for Lancashire - 1959 and 1960 - taking more than 100 wickets in both and earning all four of his England caps. © Getty Images
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GREENHOUGH, THOMAS, died on September 15, 2009, aged 77. An accurate, big- spinning leg-break bowler with a longish run-up, a distinctive whirling action and a well- disguised googly, Tommy Greenhough had two memorable seasons for Lancashire - 1959 and 1960 - taking more than 100 wickets in both and earning all four of his England caps.

He was lucky still to be playing, as in 1950 he had badly injured both feet after falling 30 feet in an accident while working at a cotton mill. Lancashire, cautious about his fitness, re-engaged him on a weekly basis (he had first signed for them at 16 in 1948), but eventually he rejoined the staff full-time. However, OldTrafford was well endowedwith slowbowlers - off-spinner Roy Tattersall and left-armer Malcolm Hilton had both played for England - and he made little headway (and kept breaking fingers) until 1956, when his 62 wickets included six for 64 against Derbyshire and 11 in the match at Bournemouth. After a poor season in 1958, he seriously considered giving up. He was persuaded to carry on by his captain, Cyril Washbrook, and it paid off the next season - a much drier summer - when Greenhough took 122 wickets at 22, and played for England for the first time.

In his second Test, at Lord's, he took five Indian wickets for 12 runs in 31 balls, and might have had more had Godfrey Evans not missed four stumpings in two overs - errors which ended Evans's own Test career after 91 matches. However, in The Times, John Woodcock made the point that India's batting was "lamentable". Problems with following through down the pitch drove Greenhough out of first-class cricket for a few weeks, but he was back for the Oval Test and took four more wickets. In the West Indies that winter, Greenhough could not force his way past spinners who were better batsmen, but he played once more for England, back at The Oval the following summer against South Africa, finishing with 16 Test wickets at the fine average of 22.31 - and the remarkable economy-rate, for a leg-spinner, of 1.89 an over. Greenhough's 121 wickets at 18.91 that summer helped Lancashire finish second in the Championship, but injuries began to impinge more and more afterwards, and he never again managed a full season. The England selectors, never terribly trusting of leg-spin, looked elsewhere too; Greenhough slipped quietly away and finished his county career in 1966, by which time his always low-slung action had dipped so much that Ray Illingworth told him "I don't know if you realise, but you're bowling on your knees."

© Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
 
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