The summer of 2011 was an outstanding one for Lancashire County Cricket Club as they won the County Championship outright for the first time since 1934. Off the field, however, the year ended in a sad way with the death in early December of Roy Tattersall, one of the great names in the club’s history and a man who had played a major role the last time the Red Rose county ended on top of the Championship when they shared the county title in 1950.
During that Championship summer of 1950, the off-spinner took 163 wickets at just 12 runs apiece, including returns of 8 for 60 against Surrey, 7 for 24 versus Worcestershire, 7 for 28 against Glamorgan, 7 for 29 against Warwickshire, and 7 for 39 versus Hampshire. In all first-class matches that summer, he took 193 wickets, and deservedly topped the national bowling averages with 20 five-wicket hauls to his name, plus six ten-wicket match hauls.
Wisden’s correspondent duly noted in his comments on the 1950 season how “Tattersall showed all the virtues of the great bowlers of the past. Tall, and therefore not obliged to toss the ball up, he was very difficult to drive and one of his great assets was that, in varying flight, length and pace, he did not try to do too much.”
While Tattersall’s aggregate in 1950 was still some way short of ‘Tich’ Freeman’s record of 252 Championship scalps in 1933, only three bowlers have subsequently taken more wickets in a Championship season – Bruce Dooland who took 179 wickets in 1954, Bob Appleyard who claimed 169 in 1951 and George Tribe who also took 169 wickets in 1955.
Tattersall had a slightly longer run-up compared with classical off-spinners, and his subtle variations of spin and dip made him a real handful, not least in the Championship match against Nottinghamshire in 1953 when he claimed seven wickets in the space of nineteen deliveries, and all without conceding a run. He ended with the amazing figures of 9 for 40 and was the last man to claim nine wickets in an innings for Lancashire until Simon Kerrigan claimed 9 for 51 against Hampshire during last season’s title-winning campaign.
Just weeks before his death, Tattersall contributed the foreword to a new book ‘Champions … about bloomin’ time’ which celebrates the Red Rose county’s success in 2011. “It’s a relief to be able to write these words because after so many near misses I was beginning to wonder when my beloved county would win the title again,” he wrote. “As the final matches were being played at Worcester, Liverpool and Taunton, I was struck by the similarities between the current Lancashire team and the 1950 side which shared the title with Surrey.”
“I’d like to challenge the current team to maintain their success in the coming years. After all, the Red Rose won the title four times in five seasons in the period 1926-1930 and I’d love this wonderful Championship win to mark the start of a great era for the team.” What a fitting tribute it would be to this Lancastrian legend if the club maintained their success in the next few years.
For full details of Roy Tattersall’s first-class career records, go to: http://stats.thecricketer.com/Players/0/884/884.html