Friday, 25 July 2014

Peter Sainsbury

There is nothing which reminds one so savagely of ones own years as the passing of a boyhood hero, particularly if the last memory is of the person in their prime. I have already noted the passing of David White. This week came reports of the death of Peter Sainsbury, another key member of Hampshire's first championship-winning side of 1961. Starting purely as a left-arm spinner, he had worked his way up the batting order to establish himself as a reliable no. 5 from the start of that season. But his distinctive contribution (apart from his habitual creams, in distinction to traditional whites) was as a tenacious close fielder, usually in "boot hill".

Stephen Chalke's obituary in the Independent questions why Sainsbury never gained a full England cap, and details the near misses. I believe I can add a further factor: the England 'A' (the equivalent of today's Lions) tour of Pakistan in 1955 of which Sainsbury was a part. There are MCC papers relating to it, but the catalogue web page includes the note "Part of this file is closed". If memory serves right, this was the infamous "debagging" tour referred to here. Not many of those young players graduated to the full England XI.  Fred Titmus whose county record could not be ignored, made it but only after a lengthy break.

Later: a day after posting the above, I learn that Peter Oborne's new book about Pakistani cricket lifts the lid on the debagging affair. It is now on order.

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