Brian Langford, a former Somerset captain and one of the most respected players the county has ever produced, has died at the age of 77. No-one has played more than his 504 first-class games for Somerset and only Jack White and Arthur Wellard have taken more than his 1,390 first-class wickets for the club.
Langford was born in Birmingham, but he moved west to Bridgwater when he was just four and made his Somerset debut in 1953 as a 17-year-old off-spinner. Somerset were a weak side in those days and his debut Championship appearance - against Lancashire at Bath - saw his side succumb to an innings defeat in a single day.
He fared far better in his next game, claiming 14 wickets to help Somerset to victory over Kent. Until James Harris, then with Glamorgan, beat the record in 2007, he was the youngest man to take a ten-wicket haul in the Championship. He claimed another 11 wickets in his next game, against Leicestershire, to underline his rich promise.
Langford never quite pressed for England recognition, but over a 22-year career of great reliability, he went on to play a substantial part in improving the fortunes of the club. He captained between 1969 and 1971 and, as well as helping bring the likes of Brian Rose and Peter Denning into the side, saw Somerset develop into a top-ten team. He claimed 100 first-class wickets in a season on five occasions, with his best year coming in 1958 when he took 116 wickets including career-best figures of 9 for 26 against Lancashire at Weston super Mare.
His most famous performance came in the first year of the Sunday League in 1969. Langford delivered his eight overs - the maximum allowed to an individual bowler in the competition at the time - without conceding a run, his figures of 8-8-0-0 setting a record for economical limited-overs bowling that can never be bettered.
Upon retirement he remained involved with the Somerset committee and was the chairman of the club's cricket committee in the tumultuous 1986 season, when Sir Ian Botham, Sir Viv Richards and Joel Garner all left the club in acrimonious circumstances.
"Langy was a very fine off-spin bowler and, for a number of seasons, was the almost the county's lone bowler," former team-mate Peter Robinson, who often travelled with Langford to games, told Somerset CCC's website. "At the time that he was in his prime there were a number of good offspinners on the county scene, but if he had played in another era he could well have played for England."
"Brian's contribution to Somerset County Cricket Club was enormous," the club's chief executive Guy Lavender said. "He was a remarkable player, an outstanding leader and a charming individual. He will be sorely missed by all of Somerset's members and supporters and we would like to extend our sincere condolences to Brian's wife Maureen and all of his family at this immensely sad time."