One was a coaching obsessive who pushed the case of the young Mike Gatting, the other a Rhodesian pharmacist who became the heart of Ealing cricket for 50 years
Photographs: Left: Ted Jackson. Right: Mervyn Mansell
TED JACKSON learned his cricket at Charterhouse and Cambridge University, playing as a fast bowler in the 1943 wartime fixture against Oxford. By the time he was captain of Brondesbury, however, he had turned himself into a top-order batsman and legspinner.
A man of great intellectual energy, he worked as a barrister for the Inland Revenue, loved literature and music and threw himself into cricket coaching. When the 11-year-old Mike Gatting arrived at Brondesbury, Jackson quickly recognised his potential. With evangelical zeal he nurtured the youngster, championing his cause so relentlessly that Gatting was playing in the Middlesex 2nd XI before his 15th birthday.
Jackson became a leading light in the developing world of coach education, describing his week at Lilleshall on the Advanced Course as “the happiest of my life – and I’ve had three honeymoons”.
He held strong views on the skills of cricket, dispatching long, densely written letters to all and sundry. One I received denounced the ECB’s latest publication on Mental Skills: “They have the chutzpah to mention WT Gallwey in their bibliography but advocate rubbish like ‘Positive Thinking’ and ‘Self-slaps on the Wrist’.”
Another began: “I’m in utter despair over ECB’s obstinate stupidity over (1) the STANCE and (2) TRIGGER MOVEMENTS.” Diagrams and quotations were enclosed, in various coloured pens, and a scribbled note on the bottom about a game he played in India in 1944. Jackson was a visionary, full of life and a passionate man.
“Hit it down, Gatting”
MY MOTHER saw an advert in the Willesden Chronicle: ‘Brondesbury Cricket Club: Colts Required.’ It was two bus rides but I went along. It was probably the best thing that ever happened to me.
Ted was there, barking his orders; I’m sure he frightened some of them off. But he had so much energy, and his enthusiasm made most of us want to go back. It was never going to be boring. He was six foot two, bowling in-swingers and out-swingers and quick legbreaks that bounced up on the concrete surface. “Hit it down, Gatting,” he’d shout when I played the pull shot or the cut.
He got me on to a coaching course when I was 14. There was quite a furore when I passed and I was too young to get a certificate. He wrote long letters to the National Cricket Association.
He was always writing to me. Amazing epistles, with bits of books about the great players – “just in case you haven’t seen this”. He had this thing about ‘gapping’, angling the bat to play into the gaps. He had so many ideas. In many ways he was ahead of his time. Mike Gatting
Mervyn Mansell grew up in Rhodesia, for whom he played as an 18-year-old in 1936. His younger brother Percy, making his debut in the same match, went on to represent South Africa in 13 Tests but Mervyn emigrated to England. He trained as a pharmacist and volunteered for wartime service in the Royal Navy, during which he won a Distinguished Service Cross for ‘bravery, daring and skill’ in combating German e-boats.
He joined the Ealing club in 1952. Playing in glasses like his brother, he was a classical batsman whose strength was on the offside. Ealing was a top team at that time but Mansell was among those who saw problems ahead. “Cricket in schools was declining,” he recalled, years later, “so we had to start producing our own youngsters.”
In 1955 a Colts side was formed, and Mansell became its driving force. He had a young family and a pharmacy business but, with his wife June’s support, he always found time for youth cricket, extending his influence when he helped to found the Middlesex Colts Cricket Association in the 1960s.
The population of Ealing steadily changed and many of his youngsters went away to university. But he stayed at the heart of the Ealing club, running the colts with quiet dedication for more than 50 years. He took pride that three of his 1955 side were still playing for the club in 2009. Even as he lay dying in hospital, he wanted to know that week’s results.
Like Jackson, he left his mark on many, and was awarded an MBE for services to youth cricket in Middlesex. Jackson’s CBE was for services to the law – though it could just as easily have been for his coaching work. Without such men, always giving generously of their time, the game would not pass so well to future generations.
Edward Oliver Jackson CBE was born on December 3, 1922 and died on October 5, 2009, aged 86.
Arthur James Mervyn Mansell MBE was born on January 19, 1918 and died on August 26, 2009, aged 91.