Laurence Barnard Fishlock
January 02, 1907, Battersea, London
June 25, 1986, Sutton, Surrey, (aged 79y 174d)
Left hand bat
Slow left arm orthodox
Laurie Fishlock died peacefully in hospital after an operation on June 26, 1986, aged 79. For years he was one of the mainstays of the Surrey side; the first left-hand batsman of any prominence they had had since the early 1870s. Season after season he topped their averages, usually with more than 2,000 runs and an average of about 50. He was largely a county player; a little older than most, he was 28 when he got his cap. Four years later came the war, and when first-class cricket was resumed he was 39, an age when men are retiring from Test cricket rather than starting it. So in all he played in only four Tests: two in 1936 against India, another, also against India, in 1946, and one in Australia in 1946-47. In these he did little. He had also gone on the 1936-37 tour of Australia and on that, though in the opinion of most people he was lucky to be preferred to Eddie Paynter, he was equally unlucky to miss six crucial weeks through a broken bone in his right hand. No touring side has suffered so much from injuries as that one and, had he remained fit, Fishlock must, whether in form or not, have had ample opportunity of proving himself. By a cruel stroke of fortune, he again broke a finger on his second tour.
Joining the Surrey staff in 1930, he played against Oxford at The Oval in 1931 and made 41 not out in the second innings, but it was 1934 before he had a real trial, making 598 runs with an average of 31.47. Next year, playing regularly, he made more than 1,000 runs and hit three hundreds, but this hardly prepared people for his advance in 1936. Scoring 2,129 runs with an average of 53.22, he represented the Players at Lord's, took part in two Test trials and in two Tests, and made 100 in each innings for Surrey against Sussex at The Oval. In 1937, after his unlucky winter in Australia, he had almost the only poor spell of his life. In May and June he could get no runs, but then DJ Knight, whose return to the side after a gap of many years had been only a qualified success, dropped out, Fishlock was moved up to open, a position he continued to occupy to within a year or two of his retirement, and runs immediately began to flow. They included two hundreds in one match against Yorkshire at The Oval, a feat which no one had performed since Knight in 1919. In 1938 he made a century in a Test trial, but with Leyland and Paynter in form and English batting crushingly strong, he had no chance in the Tests.
Trained as an engineer, he spent the war mostly in London making aircraft parts for the RAF and so was able to play some cricket, which meant in 1946 he could take up more or less where he left off, making 2,241 runs with an average of 50.47 and being one of the Five Cricketers of the Year in the 1947Wisden. He continued to score as heavily as ever and in 1948 played the highest innings of his career, 253 against Leicestershire at Leicester. In 1952 he still got his 1,000 runs and played some valuable innings which helped Surrey to win the Championship that launched them on their astonishing sequence of seven consecutive Championships, but he wisely decided to retire while the going was good. Later he coached at St. Dunstan's, Catford.
Playing with a sedulously straight bat, he was primarily a front-of-the-wicket player, driving equally well straight or through the covers but also forcing hard off his back foot. Like most left-handers, he was strong to square leg as well. He was a splendid field, especially in the deep, as one might expect for in his young days he had been an amateur soccer international and, later turning professional, had played for a succession of clubs. Wisden Almanack 1987
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