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|Saturday, 11th October 2008|
Turf, Famous Cricketers  #18
Sport is full of questions which can never be answered. One of the favourites is 'How was the best never to have...' Well if the conversation ever gets around to, 'Who was the best English opening batsman never to have played for England?' (Admitedly you may have to steer the conversation) John Langridge deserves a big mention.
He played for Sussex 1928-1955 and scored 34,380 runs at an average of 37.45 more than any other player for his county. He scored 76 first-class centuries and as such hold the unpleasant record of being the man that has scored the most centuries not to be picked to represent his national side.
Bad luck has a good deal to do with it. Picked for the 1939-40 Indian tour World War Two meant that was cancelled.
spin often afforded him more problems but not unduly so.
To make things worse he was a very good slip fielder making 784 catches.
John was born on Feb 10, 1910, the younger brother of James Langridge (who also played for Sussex).
Sussex had a good tradition of brothers playing in the team. Contemparies were the Gilligans (Harold and Arthur, the Captain) and the Parkses (Jim and Harry). Later came Charlie and Jack Oakes and the Doggarts, Hubert and Peter.
John was a solid bat, based on sound technique he had many strokes in his reportoire even if he left the more graceful of strokes to others. Fast bowling was bread and butter to his batting technique, spin often afforded him more problems but not unduly so.
He had an opening partnershop with EH Bowley and his early years coincided with a revivial of Sussex fortunes under great Captains such as KS Duleepsinhji, RSG Scott and Alan Melville. In 1933 they took part on one of the highest of all English partnerships when they put 490 runs on the board in a day against Middlesex. John scored 195 of them and Bolwey 281.
In 1932 it looked like Sussex were going to take the County Championship for the first time and it is almost certain they would have done if it had not been for the August breakdown of the sides inspiration, 'Duleep'.
For three years they were to occupy the runners-up position.
Langridge was to play with 12 Captains at the helm, including one professional, that being his brother who was put in charge in 1950 following some internal wrangling. For his part John felt the game lost something when the amateur status was officially eliminated in 1962.
In 1955, Langridge took 69 catches only 9 short of Waler Hammonds all-time record. Not bad for his last season.
No sooner had he stopped wielding the willow than he began a second career as an umpire. By 1978 he was celebrating 50 years in the game which was also marked by an MBE.
He continued for another two seasons and umpired in the second World Cup matches.