Les Jackson, the Derbyshire fast bowler who in most other eras would have played far more than twice for England, has died after a short illness. He was 86.
Tall and genuinely quick, with a slingy round-arm action and the ability to move the ball both ways, Jackson was unlucky in that his best years came when England had a successful side and an abundance of fast bowlers. He was also handicapped by playing for an unfashionable county.
The war meant that he did not make his first-class debut until 1947, when he was 26. From then until he retired in 1963, he was an ever-present in the county side. His economical run-up, allied to his natural strength resulting from his time as a miner, allowed him to bowl long spells without much loss of pace. EW Swanton said his bowling was "hostile, full of stamina, from one summer's end to the next, scarcely guilty of even an indifferent over". He finished his career with 1733 first-class wickets, passing 100 in a season ten times, and his best year came in 1960 when he took 160 at 13.61. He had few pretensions with the bat, never making a fifty in more than 400 appearances.
His two Test appearances were separated by 12 years. In 1949 he played against New Zealand at Manchester while Alec Bedser was rested, taking 3 for 72 in the match. In 1961, aged 40, he was a late call-up for the Ashes Test at Leeds when Brian Statham withdrew with a side strain. Opening with Fred Trueman, Jackson took 2 for 57 and 2 for 26 as England won by eight wickets. That aside, he never even got a tour. Trevor Bailey wrote that professionals around the country were aghast when John Warr, of Cambridge University and Middlesex, was preferred to Jackson for the 1950-51 trip to Australia.