Bertie Buse

BUSE, HERBERT FRANCIS THOMAS, the Somerset all-rounder, died in hospital in Bath on February 23, 1992, aged 81. Bertie Buse played in 304 first-class matches between 1929 and 1953. He will be best remembered for the disaster that attended his benefit match at Bath in 1953, which was the last but one first-class match in England to be completed in a day. Somerset were bowled out for 55 and 79 and lost to Lancashire by an innings and 24; Buse helped cause his own misfortune by taking six for 41.

In Somerset Buse will be recalled with enormous affection for his deeds in the preceding seasons when equally heavy defeats were not unknown, though they were rarely quite so spectacular. A right-hand bat with an obdurate defence, he was in his element shoring up his side's innings when it was threatening to disintegrate. His main scoring stroke was a curious and very personal dab/cut which somehow escaped the clutches of the slips and flew off in the direction of third man.

He also bowled right-arm at medium pace or a little above and was much more formidable than his neat, fastidious run-up suggested. At the last moment before delivery he would spring into life and send down a late, waspish out-swinger or, as an occasional surprise, an in-swinger. John Arlott likened his approach to that of a butler bringing in the tea, though Buse never took too kindly to this. He did look rather prim on the field, but he was a steely competitor who delighted in tormenting high-class batsmen.

Buse was born in Bristol, but moved to Bath and was working in a solicitor's office there when he made his first-class début as an 18-year-old. Sharing the new ball against Surrey at The Oval with Arthur Wellard, he rose to the occasion with an opening spell of 6-1-22-0 against Hobbs and Sandham and played two determined innings. Thereafter he was given few chances of making an impression until 1938 when he contributed 1,067 runs and 61 wickets and took more catches than anyone except Luckes, the wicket-keeper. His figures were even better in 1939, when he took eight for 41 against Derbyshire.

And he quickly rediscovered his touch after the war. He helped Bill Andrews bowl out the 1946 Indian touring team for 64 immediately after they had made 533 for three at Hove. In 1948 he had his best year with the bat, making 1,279 runs, more than any Somerset player except Gimblett. The following year he began the season by taking seven for 26 at Taunton in the second innings of Freddie Brown's first match as Northamptonshire captain when Brown's team, needing 64 to win, scraped home by two wickets.

Though he always looked inscrutable, he was much loved within the county and throughout the game. In all he made 10,623 runs, including seven hundreds, at an average of 22.69. He passed 1,000 runs in a season five times, captured 657 wickets at a cost of 28.77 and held 151 catches. He was a useful rugby full back and an accomplished performer at table tennis and billiards.

© John Wisden & Co