Obituaries, 2006

Obituaries index: K-O

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This section records the lives of those who died during 2005 and were:

  • Test cricketers
  • first-class cricketers from Great Britain and Ireland
  • Other personalities of interest from around the world

    Wisden would be pleased to hear of any notable omissions. Please write to: Obituaries, John Wisden & Co Ltd, 13 Old Aylesfield, Golden Pot, Alton, Hampshire GU34 4BY.

    KEELER, JOHN GEORGE, died on October 9, 2005, aged 81. Jackie Keeler represented Durham in their old Minor Counties days, scoring heavily in two-day matches against touring teams: 90 and 97 against the 1950 West Indians, and 135 against the Indians in 1952. He played one first-class match, opening for the Minor Counties against the 1953 Australians. He managed one and ten out of 56 and 62.

    KEIGHLEY, WILLIAM GEOFFREY, OAM, died in Australia on June 14, 2005, aged 80. Apart from Lord Hawke, Geoffrey Keighley was perhaps the most significant exception ever allowed to the "county-born only" rule at Yorkshire before it collapsed in 1991. Born in Nice, he played 35 matches as an amateur between 1947 and 1951, apparently without comment or complaint. His father was a well-known Bradford industrialist; and Keighley was an Eton and Oxford-educated opening bat with a classical style, seen as a potential captain. In only his second first-class appearance, he made a "faultless" 105 for the university against the 1947 South Africans, and scored 99 in the Varsity Match, being bowled by Trevor Bailey to end a stand with Tony Pawson of 226. Pawson thought Keighley had imbibed so much Yorkshire influence about playing correctly, it inhibited his talent and thirst for runs: "After getting out for seven or something, he'd say `Yorkshire would be pleased with that.'" But in the end he was too restless to be constrained by county cricket. He married, moved to Australia, took on a 1,000-acre sheep farm, and confined his cricket to captaining Stockinbingal and Cootamundra, but in other respects became the epitome, as one obituarist put it, of the professional amateur. He became an idiosyncratic Country Party member of the New South Wales Legislative Council (advocating the decriminalisation of both abortion and marijuana), represented Australia at international agricultural negotiations, learned to fly and paint, filled his house with art treasures, and ran a classical-music radio station.

    KELLY, KENNETH, who died on April 12, 2005, aged 81, was a pioneering cricket photographer. Born in Leeds (in Kirkstall Lane), Ken Kelly got his break when allowed to photograph the 1938 Headingley Test for the Yorkshire Evening News, using a home-made "Long Tom" camera. After the war, he was given a job in Birmingham, and slowly emerged as a cricket specialist. In 1967, he returned home after a spell overseas, armed with the new techniques first introduced in Australia that revolutionised the game's pictorial record: 35mm cameras - two of them - enabling him to take shortrange and long-range shots simultaneously. When the carve-up that barred most photographers from Tests in England was ended in 1972, Kelly became a regular on the circuit, working at most home Tests and a good many overseas. Edgbaston was his domain, and he had his own private box as a camera position, a spot he jealously guarded until he retired in 1985; it is now occupied by the third umpire. In retirement, he took over the Edgbaston museum and, with his wife Kate, lovingly built it into one of the best in the country.

    KILDEY, EDWARD KEITH, who died on February 12, 2005, aged 85, was a tall fast bowler who took just one first-class wicket: Len Hutton. His only match was for Tasmania against MCC in 1946-47, and he had Hutton caught at square leg off a mistimed hook. Kildey was in the Royal Australian Air Force for nearly 30 years and, when the 1956 Olympics were held in Melbourne, was one of a group of servicemen drafted into the clay-pigeon shooting as non-scoring competitors, because of a shortage of entrants. It was later whispered to him that, had he been eligible, he would have won the bronze medal.

    KUREISHI, OMAR, who died on March 14, 2005, aged 77, was for many years Pakistan's leading cricket commentator and columnist. Shaharyar Khan, the Pakistan board's chairman, said he was "Cardus and Arlott rolled into one." He was certainly an articulate and well-informed broadcaster, and no Pakistani since has been invited to be a ball-by-ball commentator on Test Match Special. He didn't bother with false modesty either, once announcing proudly while talking about Hanif Mohammad: "Everyone in Pakistan calls him `The Little Master', a name which I invented myself." Kureishi was a classmate of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto both at school and at university in California, and was very influential when Bhutto ran the country: a leading figure among the well-dressed urbane sophisticates who dominated Pakistan's affairs in its first three decades before religion became more important. His columns in Dawn went far beyond cricket, and he was also publicrelations officer for Pakistan International Airlines, a job that perfectly suited his cosmopolitan lifestyle, and positioned him nicely to offer back-scratching favours. He also wrote occasionally on cricket for The Guardian and managed the Pakistani team to England in 1974, fuming about the inadequate covering at Lord's which sparked a Pakistan collapse, and to New Zealand in 1978-79. His son, Javed Kureishi, played for Pakistan Under-19s. "With all the ups and downs in my life," Kureishi once wrote, "cricket remained a constant."

    LAHEJI, ABDUL RAZZAQ, who died on February 15, 2005, scored a century in his only first-class match, with 144 for Saurashtra against Maharashtra at Rajkot in 1954-55. Then his father, a doctor, persuaded him to concentrate on his medical studies, and he never appeared again. A right-hand batsman who could also keep wicket, Laheji went to Rajkumar College, where Ranji and Duleep also studied.

    LANGRIDGE, RICHARD JAMES, who died on January 3, 2005, aged 65, was a member of the famous Sussex cricket family. His father James played eight times for England and his uncle John scored 76 centuries without winning a Test cap. The achievements of Richard, a tall left-hander, were more modest, although he did enjoy two golden seasons which led to talk of an England call-up. After 1,675 runs in 1961, he topped that with 1,885 in 1962 - but fell away afterwards as bowlers worked out his preference for the front foot. "Before long, I didn't get anything pitched up at all," he admitted. "I was a grafter, never a box-office batsman." Langridge was part of the Sussex side that won the first two Gillette Cups in 1963 and 1964, and was the first batsman to take strike (against Jack Flavell) in a Lord's final, going on to make a vital 34 in a low-scoring match. He coached at Queen's College in South Africa and recommended a tall youngster called Tony Greig to Sussex. "He was one of the nicest guys that I've ever met," said Greig.

    MacDONALD, JOHN BERTRAM, collapsed and died in the Warner Stand at Lord's on July 21, 2005, shortly before play began in the First Test between England and Australia. He was 84. Passionate about cricket, he was brought up next to the village ground at Blackheath, near Guildford in Surrey, and played for them regularly from the age of 14 until he was past 70.

    MAMSA, AHMED MOHAMMED, died on November 14, 2005, aged 86. Born in Burma, he umpired six Tests in India between 1963-64 and 1972-73, and 57 other first-class matches. Mamsa also trained would-be umpires for the Mumbai Cricket Association. Piloo Reporter, a Test umpire himself, remembered: "He was totally different from today's breed of umpires in the sense that he rarely indulged in friendly banter with either players or his colleagues in the field. He used to insist on upcoming umpires like me being well-versed with the Laws of the game. `Otherwise the Laws will pinch you,' he used to say."

    MASON, SCOTT ROBERT, died on April 9, 2005, aged 28. A small, gritty left-hander who played 28 times for Tasmania, Mason missed the whole of the 2004-05 season while undergoing treatment for a heart condition, but had been cleared to play again. He had faced a few balls in an indoor net session at Hobart's Bellerive Oval when he collapsed, and died 36 hours later. Mason's finest six and a half hours came at Hobart in January 2003, when he scored 174 to lead Tasmania to a comeback win over Victoria. He unleashed shots that disarmed those who thought he was a battler of limited ability, and scored another excellent century against Western Australia the following season, but was struggling for consistency before he was first taken ill. "Maso" was always a popular team-man, and a great geer-up in the field. Jamie Cox, Mason's captain and opening partner, said: "He was just such a likeable guy, and an inspiration."

    MILLMAN, GEOFFREY, who died on April 6, 2005, aged 70, kept wicket for England in six Tests. He played two each in both India and Pakistan after John Murray went home from the interminable 1961-62 tour for an operation, and kept his place for the first two home Tests against Pakistan the following season. Geoff Millman was a quiet, almost studious, figure on the field and off it, with an unflashy style behind the stumps that produced a minimum of errors. Deeply rooted in Bedfordshire, he was plucked from their Minor Counties team to be Nottinghamshire's keeper in 1957. He instantly made the job his own, and was capped in his first season, helped by an ability to make steady runs down the order. However, he was in a struggling team and, at national level, had to compete for recognition against freer scorers like Murray and Jim Parks. Millman was reputedly nursing an injury when he played his final Test, at Lord's, and Murray recaptured his place. He was county captain for his last three seasons, from 1963 to 1965, doing this job with his customary low-key competence, and leading Nottinghamshire to their highest place in seven years, ninth, in his first season. Millman returned to Bedford where he took over the family jewellers' business, and went sailing. David Allen, who toured the subcontinent with him, remembers him as good, if never rowdy, company with a sly sense of humour, which - on a trip where creepy-crawlies were a regular feature of hotel rooms - once ran to putting a clockwork spider in Barry Knight's bed.

    MIRANDO, TRYPHON, died of a heart attack in London on October 2, 2005. He was 51, and had recently been appointed as the secretary of the interim committee set up to run Sri Lankan cricket by the government. He had previously been secretary - and president - of the Tamil Union club.

    MORGAN, DAVID JAMES, who died on November 25, 2004, aged 71, took nearly 4,000 wickets over 60 seasons, every one of them recorded in his own special ledger. Bill Frindall, a frequent team-mate, thought he might be the finest bowler never to play first-class cricket. Most of his wickets came for Cheam, including a record 1,325 in the Surrey Championship. Morgan was originally a fast bowler but later became a master of slow out-drifters that would regularly fox young county players even when he was over 60; he played in the national club final at Lord's when he was 57.

    MUSHTAQ ALI, SYED, died on June 18, 2005, aged 90. Tall and debonair, often with a kerchief knotted jauntily round his neck, Mushtaq Ali - the son of an Indore police inspector - was a prototype for India's modern cricket heroes. In his foreword to Mushtaq's autobiography, Cricket Delightful, Keith Miller called him "the Errol Flynn of cricket - dashing, flamboyant, swashbuckling and immensely popular wherever he played". He was the first Indian to score a Test century overseas, with 112 at Old Trafford in 1936, when he beat Vijay Merchant to the mark during an opening stand of 203. He reached his hundred inside the final session on the second day, entrancing Neville Cardus, who enthused: "He transforms the bat into a conjuror's wand." There was one other Test century, 106 against West Indies at Calcutta in 1948-49. Mushtaq had a long career, starting in 1930 and continuing until 1963-64 when, aged 48, he scored 41 off several Test bowlers in a Defence Fund match. In between there were numerous Ranji Trophy finals for Holkar, but just 11 Test appearances. These were spread over almost 20 years and finished with India's first victory, by an innings, over England at Madras in 1951-52. Mushtaq's contribution was 22 in a useful opening stand of 53 with Pankaj Roy. He should have played more Test cricket, but the authorities were suspicious of him: there was an early mix-up when a selection letter apparently went astray, and later the Calcutta crowd chanted "No Mushtaq, no Test" when he was originally left out of a representative match against the Australian Services shortly after the war. He pulled out of the 1947-48 trip to Australia after one of his brothers died, and was not selected for the disastrous England tour of 1952. Even at 37 he might have been useful because, unlike most who toured that year, he relished fast bowling. Later, he was a slim, graceful, elder statesman at many of the multifarious awards nights that punctuate India's cricket seasons. Mushtaq's son, Gulrez Ali, and his grandson, Abbas Ali, both played first-class cricket.

    NORRIS, DAVID JOHN, who died of cancer on September 11, 2005, aged 62, was the Essex scorer from 1999 until he became ill in 2004. He worked in banking for many years and was a keen philatelist, with a special knowledge of the stamps of Ceylon. "He was a thoughtful man and a pleasant companion," said his Gloucestershire counterpart, Keith Gerrish.

    © John Wisden & Co