Cecil Harry Parkin
February 18, 1886, Eaglescliffe, Co Durham
June 15, 1943, Cheetham Hill, Manchester, Lancashire, (aged 57y 117d)
Right hand Bat
Right arm Offbreak
Ciss Parkin was by any reckoning something of an oddball. The livewire of the dressing-room, his comic talents and conjuring tricks kept team-mates - and often the spectators - amused. But had a knack of upsetting people as well by expressing his outspoken views. His England career was nipped in the bud when he criticised Arthur Gilligan, the captain, in a newspaper article. Two years later his county career finished in equally acrimonious circumstances with a public - and bitter- falling out with the Lancashire committee. But on the field he was a devastating offspinner, always ready to experiment with speed, flight and guile. This led to regular spats with captains who struggled to set fields to Parkin's requirements. He played once for Yorkshire in 1906 before it was discovered he had been born 20 yards outside the county, and spent the next eight seasons in league and minor county cricket. In 1914, aged 28, he made his Lancashire debut, taking 14 Leicestershire wickets, but his second coming was nipped in the bud by the Great War. It was not until he was almost 35, in 1921, that he became a fulltime cricketer, and in that year he topped the averages against the all-conquering Australians. After leaving Lancashire he returned to league cricket with inevitable success.
Cecil Harry Parkin, who died on June 15 in a Manchester hospital, earned the description cricket's chief comedian. Of medium height and rather slim, eccentric in character and in action, he brought every known device besides his own special jugglery into his right-arm bowling. For variations of pace and spin he ranked with the cleverest of attackers, his high-pitched very slow ball being specially deceptive. He chiefly used the off-break, but overdid experiments, so that the most experienced captain found it difficult to place a field able to check run-getting when punishing batsmen faced Parkin. Yet a well-known amateur said in Oval pavilion that he would like Parkin on his side because he took wickets quickly and left his batsmen plenty of time in which to get runs.
League cricket occupied much of Parkin's time before he started for Lancashire by taking 14 Leicestershire wickets at Liverpool in 1914, and after the last war his Saturdays were engaged similarly; but in 1919 at Old Trafford he helped materially in the defeat of Yorkshire by taking 14 wickets at exactly 10 runs apiece, the margin, curiously enough, being 140 runs--precisely the number hit off Parkin in 60 overs. Chosen for The Players at the Oval and Lord's, he did nothing exceptional, but next season at the Oval he dismissed nine Gentlemen, six clean bowled, in the first innings for 85 runs, a performance which influenced his choice for the team which visited Australia that winter. Except at Adelaide, where five wickets fell to him for 60 runs in the first innings, Parkin, like other England bowlers during that ill-fated tour, suffered severely in the Tests; but he took most wickets, and 73 at 21 runs apiece during the whole campaign. Next summer he again proved the most effective bowler when appearing in four of the five Tests, but England were still far below their best, and altogether Parkin was on the losing side eight times without knowing the satisfaction of victory when playing for his country against Australia.
Of the drawn match at Old Trafford, where he took five wickets for 38 runs, he told a story well suited to his own character. H. L. Collins, the Australian, batted seven hours for 40 runs. A spectator shouted to our skipper, Lord Tennyson, `Eh, Tennyson, read him one of your poems!'--and with the very next ball I got Collins l. b. w. when England batted a second time, 187 runs ahead, Parkin went in first, and so could claim the proud privilege of being one of the few men who have opened both the bowling and batting for England.
He was in the eleven which beat South Africa by an innings and 18 runs at Edgbaston in 1924. Arthur Gilligan, six wickets for 7 runs, and Maurice Tate, four for 12, dismissed the visitors for 30--the lowest Test match total--and again shared the honours when South Africa following-on, scored 390.
Parkin was at his best about that time, being the most effective Lancashire bowler both in 1923 and the following season, with records of 209 wickets at 16.94 runs apiece, and 200 at the low cost of 13.67 each. His deadliness declined in 1925, when his analysis showed 121 wickets at 20.79 each. E. A. MacDonald and Richard Tyldesley were then his superiors in the powerful Lancashire attack. His benefit match with Middlesex that season realised £1,880. In 1926 he played in eleven county matches, taking 36 wickets at 15.13 apiece, and so shared in Lancashire gaining the championship for the first time since 1904; but his finish in important cricket in his 40th year was regrettable--due to a breach with the Lancashire authorities. Altogether in first-class cricket Parkin was credited with 1,060 wickets at an average cost of 17.49.
As a batsman he was useful at times and showed good style, but his average of 11.47 denotes uncertainty to a high degree. Parkin told his early cricket life in a very vivacious book and, in conformity with his cricket gestures, was a conjurer of no mean ability.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Batting & Fielding