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Brian Statham. 1930-2000

W ith the passing of

G.Phillips, BDV Sports Package Design
Sundry Sportsman [1954].

Brian Statham at the age of sixty nine, Lancashire cricket has lost another of its past great names.

Born June 17th, 1930 his early cricket was with Manchester school matches for the Whitworth Street cricket team.

He made his Lancashire debut against Kent in June 1950, on his 20th birthday. He was a natural talent with no proper coaching and was christened George by the Lancashire side. Apparently due to the fact that for the first time in many years there was nobody called George in the side. He was also known as the whippet.

His bowling action came off a 17 pace run, excluding a hop, skip and jump which added to the lack of rhythm which had purists shaking their heads. He soon settled into one of the most graceful and rythmic bowling actions seen.

He came from the old school of cricketers

No doubt this was helped by his 'double jointed' limbs. One alarming story is he was able to remove his sweater by putting his arms over his back and grab the bottom of his sweater with both hands and take it off in one movement. You would think such things would make weaker spectators feint away.

All this gave opposition purists more reason to fret than most. Notably in the Roses match at Old Trafford in 1950 when the first three Yorkshire batsman were dismissed by him for 13 runs. His final analysis in the innings being five wickets for 32.

Not only could he bowled with accuracy all day that was also a useful addition as a safe pair of hands in the field and a long fast accurate throw from outfield.

In 1951 he flew out to Australia to bolster a flagging MCC side. He actually made his Test debut some three months later in March of that year against New Zealand.

Always a name in the hat four Test honours it was not until 1953 - 54 against the West Indies that he cemented this place, heading the England averages with 16 wickets at 28.75 each.

In the last two months of that year his bowling helped secure a Ashes victory, particularly his efforts in the second Test when he bowled repeatedly into what amounted to a gale.

He came from the old school of cricketers who felt there were harder things to be doing than bowling all day and would never be seen to complain even if he left the field of play with blood soaking into his socks.

At Lord's in 1955 against South Africa his fitness was also required in a bowling spell of 29 overs which produced seven wickets for only 39 runs. Wisden made him one of the top five Cricketers of the year in 1955.

In 1965 he took over the Lancashire captaincy (a year later he was appointed CBE). He remained Captain until his final year as a player in 1968. A year in which he took 69 wickets at an average of 17.08.

Below are his Test statistics and to put them into perspective only Truman (a bowling partner and friend), Ian Botham, Bob Willis and Derek Underwood have taken more Test wickets for England. His 2260 first-class wickets is surpassed by 18 bowlers but none have managed it at his average of 16.37 runs per wicket. By any standards such figures must put him in the top 10 bowlers England has ever produced.

Tests: 70 for England
Batting and Fielding

Bowling
I No HS Runs Avg 100 50 Ct St
87L 28 38 675 11.44 - - 28 -
Balls Runs Wkts Avg BB. 5wl 10wM
16056 6261 252 24.84 7-39 9 1

Other details:
In 1959 and 1960 lead the league for Home bowlers with an average of 15.01 (139 wickets) and 12.31 (135 wickets) respectively.

His First class career was:
1950-1968:
Runs 36995 Wickets: 2260 Avg: 16.36 100w: 13 times.

Those 100 wickets in 13 seasons puts him in very select company indeed.