Eric Harry Edrich
March 27, 1914, Lingwood, Norfolk
July 09, 1993, Wistow, Cambridgeshire, (aged 79y 104d)
Right hand bat
Eldest of the Edrich brotherhood from Norfolk, Eric Harry Edrich, who died in July aged 79, played for his native county in 62 matches between 1935 and 1951, averaging 30.45, with 170 not out against Kent II at Lakenham in 1949 the highest of his four centuries. Behind the stumps, he took 114 catches and made 35 stumpings. Playing in 33 matches for Lancashire between 1946 and 1948, he scored 854 runs at 23.72, with two centuries, 121 in the Roses match at Headingley in May 1948 (almost five hours, 11 fours, two sixes: 150 for fourth wicket with Washbrook), having made 106 in the previous match, against Warwickshire at Old Trafford, in little more than half that time. For Lancashire he held 37 catches and completed 14 stumpings.
Born in Lingwood, Norfolk on March 27,1914, Eric had three brothers who played first-class cricket: W. J. (Bill), the England batsman, who played for Middlesex; G. A. (Geoff), who also played for Lancashire; and B. R. (Brian) of Kent and Glamorgan. All were sons of yeoman Norfolk farmer William Archer Edrich. J. H. (John) of Surrey and England is their cousin. The family could once field an entire XI of good cricketers. Eric left Bracondale School at 15 to work on the farm, and, after a couple of sea-sons in Yorkshire, where he played for York, he became a regular Norfolk player, becoming by chance, as often happens, a wicketkeeper. He was now 23, and looked a natural, with a convincing flourish about his work behind the wicket. In 1938 he made his first-class debut at Oxford for Minor Counties, as a batsman only.
He stayed with the farm during the war, but when Geoffrey returned, a much-changed man after the privations of imprisonment by the Japanese in Changi, they decided to apply for openings on the Lancashire staff and were both accepted. Eric spent time in the 2nd XI, but soon joined Geoff in the fists, making his debut against Derbyshire and showing his cut to advantage, gloving four catches too. Short, stocky and confident, like all the Edriches, he looked the part. He was chosen for North v South at Scarborough, and hit a half-century -- while brother Bill was in transit to Australia with the first post-war MCC team.
Competition from Tom Brierley and Alf Barlow for the wicketkeeping duties dampened Eric's prospects, but in 1948, chosen as a batsman, he surprised many with those back-to-back centuries for Lancashire, defending grimly one moment and attacking laughingly the next against Pritchard and Hollies in the first match and Coxon, Aspinall, Smailes, Wardle and Ellis Robinson. Soon he was keeping wicket against the Australians, and stumping Bradman at whimsical leisure to give 19-year-old Malcolm Hilton the great man's wicket for the second time in the match. 'If Rickie had taken the bails off straight away he'd have missed half the fun!' said brother Geoff. Next match, Eric stumped brother Bill for 11 in the county match at Lord's.
Lancashire then awarded him his county cap. But by the end of the season he had lost his place. For 1949 he was offered reduced terms and rejected them -- to his later regret. Back to Norfolk he went. He coached for a while at Stowe School, and emigrated to New Zealand on impulse, eventually settling back in England, in Wistow, to farm chickens. A few years ago he was named Britain's Champion Chicken-Grower.
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