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Chris Oldnall chooses his cult heroes from Worcestershire
Roly Jenkins was never stumped for words: he adored the game and a brief chat could easily last an hour if you met him during his retirement, when he enjoyed nothing more than a pipepuffi ng stroll round his beloved New Road. He was a great entertainer but also an immaculate, hard-ripping legspin and googly bowler. "Spin for Roly," he would tell the ball. One year in Glasgow, recalled the historian Stephen Chalke, he beat the Rev Jim Aitchison repeatedly but without success, before coming down the wicket. "They say you're a vicar. Well, with your luck, you'll be the Archbishop of Canterbury." Roly took 1,309 fi rstclass wickets (32 in Tests) but always remembered his fi rst, at Bradford against Yorkshire in 1938. The batsman was the legendary Maurice Leyland and Jenkins clean bowled him. Instead of heading back to the pavilion, Leyland strode down the wicket and said simply: "Very well bowled, sonny".
John Inchmore was a bowler that his Worcestershire team-mates could rely on. A burly, determined seamer, he had unquestionable commitment and it was hardly surprising that after his move south from Ashington in Northumberland (home of Steve Harmison) he quickly became a favourite with the New Road regulars. `Inchers' learnt his trade properly, with his north country thoroughness, common sense and workmanlike approach serving him well. Always the type of player who made things happen when he pounded in, he kept himself in tip-top condition until the end. And like any tailender he always fancied his chances with the bat. He got his big break in 1974 against Essex, when he was promoted to No. 5 as nightwatchman and hit his only fi rst-class century. A less fortunate break came in a charity game after his fi rst-class retirement, when he delivered a short ball that was belted towards the guitarist Eric Clapton; in attempting a catch, Clapton broke his hand and almost missed an exceptionally lucrative tour of Japan.
Probably the only first-class cricketer born in Aberfeldy, Perthshire, Peter Jackson spent 16 seasons at Worcestershire either side of the Second World War. A modest man, he was believed by many to be capable of playing in Tests, although England's loss was Worcestershire's gain. Baptised Percy Frederick but known as Peter, Jackson was mainly an offspinner, although with his broad shoulders he was also at home taking the new ball to bowl his medium-paced outswingers. In 1948 he earned praise from Don Bradman after taking the Don's wicket but Jackson himself was a man of few words about his bowling, although his collection of 1,159 fi rst-class victims at 26.31 said plenty. In 549 fi rst-class innings he never scored more than 40 runs, and that was on a shirtfront; "I was chiselled out," he joked later. "A most genial and gentle man," said the county's offi cial history, "he was never as confi dent of his own ability as others were."
After three years on Leicestershire's books, the likeable Humphries became a big hit behind the stumps for Worcestershire, who rapidly took the Shropshire lad to their heart. He played for them for nine seasons during which time he snapped up 286 fi rst-class catches, made 59 stumpings and scored four centuries. Affectionately known as `Humpty', the pugnacious left-hander always had a battle to keep his weight under control, although his bulky frame never prevented him from pulling off a blinding catch or electric stumping. The power he put behind his shots often contributed to an entertaining innings until he eventually lost his fi rst-team place to another of Worcestershire's wicketkeeping wonders: Steve Rhodes. Chris Oldnall is a former cricket correspondent of the Worcester News
Chris Oldnall is a former cricket correspondent of the Worcester News
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