Cyril Clairmonte Depeiaza
October 10, 1928, Mount Standfast, St James, Barbados
November 10, 1995, Manchester, Lancashire, England, (aged 67y 31d)
Right hand bat
Right arm bowler
Co-holder of the Test seventh-wicket record, Cyril Clairmonte Depeiaza died in November at the age of 67. When `Leaning Tower' Depeiaza joined his captain and fellow Barbadian Denis Atkinson at the crease in the fourth Test against Australia at Bridgetown in May 1955, West Indies were 147 for 6 in reply to Australia's massive 668. In an epic, matchsaving stand the pair, who came together towards the end of the third day of the six-day Test, batted throughout the fourth day. In all they added 347, breaking the previous-best for that wicket by three runs. Their partnership remains a record for Test cricket, but was surpassed at first-class level last winter when Bhupinder Singh junior and Pankaj Dharmani put on 460 for Punjab's seventh wicket in their Ranji Trophy semi-final at Delhi.
Depeiaza, appearing in only his second Test, was out in the first over of the fifth day for 122, scored in 330 minutes and including 16 fours. Atkinson answered critics of his captaincy with 219, to add to two marathon bowling spells in the match (48-14-108-2 and 36.2-16-56-1). It was the only Test century for both players. West Indies drew the Test - but lost a highscoring series 0-3, despite a record five centuries from Clyde Walcott.
Three matches in that 1954-55 series and two more in New Zealand in 1955-56 comprised Depeiaza's entire Test career, which he finished with 187 runs (31.16) seven catches and four stumpings (in his last Test, at Christchurch, he stumped Kiwi opener Bert Sutcliffe in both innings). At this distance he seems to have been unlucky not to have been capped more often. There was a suggestion that he was chosen for West Indies' 1957 tour of England but could not be found, but in fact he had signed as professional for Scottish club Forfarshire before the team was announced. Gerry Alexander and Rohan Kanhai shared the gloves on that tour. From then on Depeiaza's cricket was largely confined to professional engagements in Britain. He inspired Heywood to the Central Lancashire League title in 1960 and 1963, and in 1965 - his last year with them before moving to Haslingden - he took 100 wickets with his awkward, low-trajectory fast-medium deliveries. He ended his professional career with CLL club Crompton ( 1967-69).
Depeiaza's batting style during his epic Bridgetown innings was colourfully described by Pat Landsberg in his tour account The Kangaroo Conquers:`He has quite the most extraordinary forward stroke in the game, with left leg and bat coming forward at the same time and practically parallel with each other. It is a stroke which he makes with deliberation, and he remains for a few seconds after the ball has hit the bat in the deepest contemplation.'
An interview with Depeiaza, who lived in Manchester from 1960, appeared in the May 1988 edition of WCM. In it he corrected the spelling of his name (usually shown as ` Depeiza'), and stated that he was born in 1928, not 1927 as shown in most record books.
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