October 16, 1883, Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire
August 23, 1956, Winwick, Lancashire, (aged 72y 312d)
Right hand bat
Right arm medium fast
Ralph Whitehead, who died on August 23, 1956, aged 72, had one of the most sensational of all first-class debuts. He was 24 and showing progress as a middle-order batsman and medium-fast bowler when Lancashire put him in the first team against Nottinghamshire at Old Trafford in June 1908. Whitehead took three first-innings wickets then came in to bat with Lancashire on 117 for 6. He put on 188 with his captain A. H. Hornby and, when the last wicket fell at 352, was left unbeaten on 131 after only three hours batting. Hornby gave him his county cap between innings and, perhaps assuming he was on infallible form, brought him on to bowl very soon. Then everything went wrong. Whitehead was called for throwing four times in his first five balls by the bowler's umpire, Tom Brown. After an exchange of words with the umpire, Hornby withdrew him from the attack and bowled him from the other end next day: Brown called him twice more from square leg. Whitehead survived in cricket; however, he never again made a comparable impact. He went on to play 106 more matches for Lancashire up to 1914, scoring 2,571 runs and taking 300 wickets, apparently without his action being challenged.
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
Batting & Fielding
Debut/Last Matches - Player