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Full name Harold Harry Ian Haywood Gibbons
Born October 8, 1904, Devonport, Devon
Died February 16, 1973, Worcester (aged 68 years 131 days)
Major teams Worcestershire
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm bowler
Harold `Doc' Gibbons, scorer of 44 centuries in first-class cricket (212 not out against Northants in 1939 the highest) died at Worcester on February 16, aged 68. Lord Cobham, who, as the Hon. CJ Lyttelton, captained Worcestershire from 1936 to 1939, has written the following tribute:
`Doc' Gibbons was a small, compact cricketer with quick feet and supple wrists, who scored 21,000 runs for Worcestershire between the wars. In the early 'thirties he opened the innings with C. F. Walters, and these two proved themselves to be a most prolific' and attractive opening pair. He reached 1000 runs on nine occasions and 2000 runs on three, his best year being 1934, when he scored 2654 runs with an average of 54. He was also a fine deep-fieldsman, with a good arm and safe hands. Gibbons was predominantly an off side player, with a markedly sideways-on stance. A glance through Wisden soon disposes of the oft-repeated charge that he was ineffective against fast bowling; he scored many centuries against the fastest bowlers of his day. It is true that he seldom attempted to hook `bouncers' but he was quick-footed enough to skip backwards and carve them away to the off side. This method, though profitable, displeased the purists, and one imagines that it was for this reason that he was never chosen for an overseas tour.
He was, however, a superb player of spin and, as Cyril Walters remarked after his funeral, `The MCC could have done with "Doc' in India this winter!'
CF Walters writes: `Doc' first played for Worcestershire in County Championship games in 1928, when the club's fortunes were at a low ebb, for the best amateurs and most of the professionals were ready to retire. Worcestershire supporters were quick to realise that the newcomer to their side had ability far above the average and they welcomed him with open arms. With a good backlift he developed a graceful, compact and precise style of batting and scored most of his boundaries with well-timed shots rather than by hitting the ball hard. He was at his best against slow bowling, when he used his feet to great advantage and was able to score all round the wicket. Although he started his career at number 4 it was as an opening batsman that he made his name, and he became known as one of the most consistent and prolific run-scoters in the country. He scored centuries against all counties with the exception of Somerset. Looking at his record it is difficult to understand why he did not get an England cap. His only reward was to play for the Players at The Oval.
He will be remembered for many a day by countless admirers who were fortunate enough to see him make his centuries in the lovely setting of the county ground at Worcester.
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