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A member of a famous family - brother Bill and cousin John played for England, and brothers Brian and Eric also played first-class cricket - Geoff Edrich played 322 matches for Lancashire between 1946 and 1958, scoring 15,600 runs in all at the respectable average of 34.82. That included 26 centuries, the highest an unbeaten 167 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 1954. He passed 1000 runs in a season eight times, and once went past 2000, with 2067 runs in 1952. He also took 331 catches, many at slip or leg slip, and claimed five wickets with his occasional medium-pacers.
That Edrich was able to play at all was a minor miracle - he was captured by the Japanese and incarcerated on the infamous "Railroad of Death" in Thailand during the Second World War. He emerged alive, but weighed only six stone.
Unlike his brother Bill, Geoff Edrich never quite managed to win an England cap, but he did play in three unofficial Tests in India in 1953-54 as part of a strong Commonwealth XI. He captained Lancashire occasionally, usually when Cyril Washbrook was away on England duty (playing or selecting). He never lost a match while in charge, and was captain in the amazing game against Leicestershire at Old Trafford in 1956, which Lancashire managed to win without losing a wicket, the first time that had happened in first-class cricket.
After a spell as Lancashire's 2nd XI captain and coach, Edrich moved to Cheltenham in 1962, where he became the groundsman at the College ground which stages a county festival week every year. He stayed there until his retirement.
He also played Minor Counties cricket for Cumberland (1960-62) after starting with his native Norfolk (1937-39). Edrich was a past president of the Lancashire Players Association, and was appointed a vice-president of the county in 2000.
Geoff Edrich died on January 2, aged 85. He joined Lancashire with his oldest brother Eric after the war during which he suffered in the cruel heat and under the merciless rule of the Japanese for over three years as a prisoner of the famous Railroad of Death in Thailand. He was released weighing six stone. A man of strong principles and incredible determination, he showed relentless courage when batting, scoring 1,000 runs in eight consecutive seasons and over 2,000 in 1952. His Lancashire team-mate Ken Grieves described Edrich as "the one man who would never quit no matter how high the odds were against him." In cricket and life he was a battler - out of the 30 comrades that were captured by the Japanese, he was one of only five to survive. Even on his release he was at risk - the boat he was on to Japan was shipwrecked when it was torpedoed. He managed to clamber aboard another boat that survived the attack. Chosen to tour with a strong Commonwealth team in 1953-54, Edrich played in three unofficial Tests in India, averaging 40.06 on the tour. He scored 15,600 runs in his first-class career, including 26 centuries, and took 332 catches as a superb slip fielder. He skippered Lancashire on occasions when Cyril Washbrook was on England duty and never lost a match in that role. In 1962 Edrich was appointed coach and head groundsman at the attractive Cheltenham ground where he stayed until his retirement. Twelve years ago he went through a course of radiotherapy for throat cancer and his indomitable fighting spirit brought him through. He hid the previous years of struggle and injustices behind a warm and friendly smile, gaining the highest respect from those who knew him.
Keith Hayhurst, The Wisden Cricketer, March 2004
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