Thursday, 14 August 2008

David "Butch" White

On 4th August 1961, EW Swanton's report from Portsmouth in the Daily Telegraph began (something like): "At twenty past five yesterday evening David White began an over which will surely live long in the annals of Hampshire cricket.". I may have the exact date wrong, and almost certainly the time is wrong, but there is no doubting the significance which Swanton had recognised.

Sussex were in their second innings, having knocked off the thirty-odd runs deficit from the first, and were seemingly on their way to making the match safe. However, Jim Parks, the England batsman/wicketkeeper, played the first delivery onto his stumps. Ian Thomson, the swing bowler, was sent in as "night watchman", but immediately gave a catch behind. The rather more accomplished batsman DV Smith was bowled, giving White a hat-trick. Gray, at slip, then dropped Cooper but Henry Horton, in the gully, made amends two balls later.

Hampshire went on to win the match by six wickets and eventually that year, the county championship, for the first time in their history. White was an essential part of that success, being probably the fastest bowler in the country that season. Until Hampshire snaffled him from under the nose of Warwickshire, the county of his birth, they had had to rely on the craftiness, rather than the sheer pace, of Cannings and Shackleton. The 6'5" Malcolm Heath came along, but he was no Steve Harmison, bowling at medium pace. White was not only fast, but aggressive with it.

It may correctly be surmised that I followed Hampshire until I had the good fortune to be posted to Swansea with DVLA, and switched my allegiance. I was therefore delighted when Glamorgan signed White in 1972 to beef up the one-day side for a season. My last memory of the terror of batsmen throughout England was of him sitting on the balcony at St Helen's, puffing contentedly on his pipe.

Butch White died on the first of this month, of a heart attack, on a golf course in Pulborough, West Sussex.

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