George Leslie Berry
April 28, 1906, Dorking, Surrey
February 05, 1985, Great Glen, Leicester, (aged 78y 283d)
Right hand Bat
Leslie George "Les" Berry (he was in fact christened George Leslie) died at Leicester on February 5, 1985, aged 78. An ideal example of what is meant by a good county cricketer, in 21 years of regular first-class cricket he took part in 610 matches, 606 of them for Leicestershire. He scored more runs for the county than any other player in its history, 30,143 with an average of 30.32, and made 45 centuries. He had a full range of strokes, the off drive and the pull being perhaps the most prominent, and a sound defence and for much of his career he opened the innings. Moreover his fielding could not be faulted: in his younger days he was usually on the boundary, later usually at mid-off, but he could in fact field anywhere. His admirers sometimes suggest that he was unlucky never to be picked for England or at least for the Players, and no-one will deny that, had he been so picked, he might well have made runs. The answer lies of course in the standard of English batting during his prime. Only twice did he average over 40 for a season: his successful competitors were scoring more heavily than that. In his best year, 1937, he scored 2,446 runs with an average of 52.04, and it is worth looking at the batting order for the Players at Lord's that year Hutton, Barnett, Hardstaff Hammond, Paynter, Compton, Ames, with James Langridge and Wellard to follow. Moreover Leyland, who was injured, was not playing. So Berry had to remain with the honourable record of being a great servant of Leicestershire.
Born at Dorking, but moving to Market Harborough when he was eight, he first appeared in 1924, but, though he immediately showed promise and got his 1,000 runs in his second season, it was not till 1928 that he made his first hundred, a magnificent 207 in three and a half hours against Worcestershire at Ashby de la Zouch. Two years later came the highest score of his career, 232 against Sussex at Leicester. His best years really commenced in 1932, when he scored 1,774 runs with an average of 38.56, and continued until after the war. He himself always remembered with particular pleasure the match with Nottinghamshire at Leicester in 1932, in which he made 72 and 75 not out against Larwood and Voce at their fastest. In the last innings Leicestershire needed 176 to win. Berry went in first and was still there when Corrall, the last man, came in with 22 wanted. Corrall defended magnificently and made 3 while Berry got the rest. He captained the county from 1946 to 1948 and in 1947, for the only time in his career, scored a hundred in each innings of a match, 165 and 111 not out against Essex at Clacton. As far on as 1949, when he was 43, he had one of the best seasons of his career, 1,853 runs with an average of 43.09. He finally retired at the end of 1951 and went to coach at Uppingham School, where he was such a success that he remained till 1979, when he was 73. He was also for many years a director of a sports shop in Leicester.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Batting & Fielding