Tag Archives: Frank Worrell

Bowman of Bowland, Oxford and Lancashire

Not as old as it looks - 1964 match to celebrate Lancashire's Centenary. Sir Frank Worrell, Brian Close, Dennis Compton and other immortals can just be made out from this snap taken on a phone in the Gentleman's Lavatory of the Inn at Whitewell - the Queen's Pub

Hurrah!  The rain has stopped.  Clitheroe’s match on Saturday was uninterrupted and often played in that rare commodity, sunshine.  The wicket was more like one to be found in April, though there is still a hosepipe ban imposed by United Utilities.  Clitheroe won and remain on the top of the Ribblesdale League, which still seems a strange thing to say after their pitiful performance last year – plus ca meme chose plus c’est la difference ?  

Third Man’s son made his debut as an opener and posted 60.  Here is the result of the cap taken round for him by the shy but affable Josh Marquet.   £22 pounds or so.  Hard work against a Kewi pro and a Derby IIs tweaker with a ‘modern’ action.

The sun shone yesterday (Sunday) and the grass was cut.  Strangely dressed persons started arriving at the Cottage at 7.00pm.  All was explained when Third Man was ushered out of his home so as not to get in the way of a Murder Detective dinner being held by his daughter and her friends, who are trying desperately to distract themselves from the inevitability of Thursday’s A level results.

He was persuaded by the promise of a portion of fish pie at The Inn at Whitewell which would tempt anyone out on a sunny Sunday evening – orders until 9.30 pm.

The Inn is on the other side of Longridge Fell (the most southerly use of the word fell in the country) which is ‘traversed’ by way of Jeffery Hill and which offers spectacular views stretching from the Fylde coast to the Trough of Bowland.   The Bowland Fells fill the view.

Farmers in the Trough were taking advantage of the sun and contractors’ tractors mowed the small fields into those familiar striated patterns.  The drone of their machinery had filled the day and would continue through the night.

Down from the fell, the lanes to the Inn follow the course of the Hodder which eventually passes through a narrow gap (the gullet of the trough) at Whitewell which is therefore overlooked on all sides by uplands.

The Inn itself and the surrounding estate is part of the Duchy of Lancaster, which means that this is the Queen’s pub.  She is the Landlord, though Gore Smith manage it for her.  Speculation surfaces now and then that somewhere around here will one day become a very special Retirement Home, but that is usually when someone else wants to sell their nearby home whose value they believe could be enhanced by the quality of the neighbours.  But think of the security, dear.

Whilst waiting a while at the summit of Jeffery Hill and taking in the whole panorama it occurred to Third Man that the Trough is a trough indeed for cricket.  He knows of no cricket team in Dunsop Bridge, Slaidburn or Newton-in-Bowland.  

Then he remembered that the Inn at Whitewell had been the “mission to eradicate pomposity and pretension from fine living while taking care not to sacrifice style, comfort and, above all, humour.” of Richard (Dick) Bowman who played 26 first class matches principally in 1957 when he received his Blue for Oxford.

The Inn is exactly as Third Man imagines Squire Weston’s pile to have been.  It sits on a sweep kink of the Hodder and there is a terrace on which the intrepid can eat outside.  Inside are a myriad of rooms each with their own personality and each with their own open wood fires.  The floors are stone and dogs are welcome.  In fact a dog can be provided for those who forgot to bring their own – you know the type of place.

The Bowman humour is still in evidence five years after his death.  The rear end of a fox disappears through a cupboard door high above a passageway that leads to the lavatories.

The Gentleman’s Lavatory has alas been modernised in recent times but was once a homage to the Sixties, to Bowman’s cricketing and school activities and indirectly and, in a way that TM cannot explain, to James Bond.   He seems to remember that the walls were pasted not with wall paper but with newspapers from that decade.

The best of the cricketing and other ephemera remain:  a photograph and scorecard of a match to celebrate the Centenary of Lancashire CCC in which Bowman sits with Sir Frank Worrell, Brian Close, Denis Compton and other immortals;  the scorecard of Essex v Oxford University (probably 1957) in which Bowman, coming in at number 9, made 75, having previously taken 7 for 60 in the Essex innings.

He must therefore have been in good form as he went on from Chelmsford to Lord’s and the ‘Varsity Match’ where he toiled through 39 overs and defeat by an innings.

Bowman used to patrol the Inn and light the place up with his smile, good humour, infectious welcome and a rhubarb and custard tie.  It is therefore odd to find this one photograph of him at Cricinfo with only a trace of that smile.

As TM returned home to creep up and spook the dinner party like a real murderer, the contractors were still going strong, the headlights on their tractors lighting up the fields and an exactly half moon hanging above the Irish Sea directly over the Isle of Man.

(more photographs later – what a promise!)

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“Gary, just come in short at cover, please. Lance, plenty of air.”

When Frank Worrell led the West Indies to Australia in 1960 he took with him the three spinners Alf ValentineSonny Ramadhin  and the relatively unknown Lancelot Richard Gibbs.  Alf was left arm, the justly celebrated Sonny bowled off-breaks and leg breaks in the Barnes finger-flicking tradition of disguise highlighted before.  

The first test in Brisbane was famously tied with the opening bowlers Wes Hall taking nine wickets in the match and Davidson eleven for Australia.  Together Ramadhin and Valentine took three for 226.  Australia went on to win the New Year’s test by seven wickets.  In the home side’s first innings of 348, Ramadhin was given just five overs, taking one for 21.

Our old friend C.L.R. James in Cricket – the Great Captains cites what happened next as evidence of Worrell’s great captaincy skills and provides a measure of the man.  For the third test he dropped Ramadhin and brought in Lance Gibbs who had done little on the tour that far but had taken four for 29 in the second innings of the warm up match in Tasmania.

The decision seemed inspired when Gibbs, brought on before Valentine, took three for 46 which along with Valentine’s four for 67 gave the West Indies a first innings lead of 137.  The West Indies took their lead to 463 before Valentine with four for 86 and Gibbs with five for 66 won the match for the visitors by 222 runs.

Gibbs on the last morning took four wickets for two runs in a spell of 27 balls.  Not for the first time the scorer would have benefited from a rubber stamp with c. Sobers b Gibbs imprinted on it.

It had not been plain sailing because in their mammoth task of chasing 464 to win Harvey and O’Neil for the third wicket had taken the score from 83 to 200 and looked well set and threatening.

But Worrell had noticed that Harvey was having trouble with a pulled leg muscle. Knowing that this would restrict his movements, especially against spin, the West Indian captain brought Sobers in close at cover and told the inexperienced Gibbs to give the ball plenty of flight to Harvey.

This YouTube film of Gibbs bowling to England in 1973 shows that he had a now very modern javelin-style delivery action. 

The front (left) foot lands outside the line made by his back (right) foot presenting his chest to the batsman.  His bowling arm whips over with great speed and he rises on this the ball of his left foot pivoting over this with tremendous force as our Compare the Drives image demonstrated yesterday.    This gives helps him to find considerable dip and therefore bounce. 

Facing Gibbs, a batsman would see a ball inviting him forward to drive, but the steeply descending ball is never quite as in-reach as the batsman thinks.  Straining forward Harvey would realise this and, in trying to compensate, lift the ball towards the waiting Sobers just as Worrell had foreseen.

The scorebook reveals R.N. Harvey caught Sobers bowled Gibbs for 85, N.C. O’Neil caught Sobers bowled Gibbs 70. After their dismissal only one batsman reached double figures.

In the first innings of the fourth Test Gibbs did the hat-trick – the first hat-trick against the Australians in the twentieth century – and took five for 97. In the last Test he took four for 74 and two for 68 in 41 overs, 19 of them maidens.  He ended the tour topping the averages with 19 wickets for an average of 22 runs.

Indeed, this was inspirational leadership by Worrell and fully justified what must have seemed an inexplicable and hugely controversial selection decision.

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