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Tales from the Boundary

Parson's Pitch


A recent post about David Sheppard got me thinking about other clerics who graced the game.

Let's begin with the aptly-named Jack Parsons (Warwicks).  Starting as a professional in 1910, he resumed after a distinguished war record as an amateur from 1919 -1923. He then went back to being professional, until on taking holy orders became an amateur until his career ended in 1934.

He was at one time considered near Test standard, with a career record of 18,000 runs at 35.7.   He was one of the few men who was picked for both Gentlemen and Players.

Essex had its own cleric in the person of Canon Frank Hay Gillingham, who amassed 10,000 runs at an average of 30.   Gillingham played in the Essex side which beat the Australians in 1905.   He was a noted preacher, being at one time Chaplain to King George VI as well as an after-dinner speaker in great demand.   He told the story of his first match against Yorkshire; he drove a four through the covers: “I thought I was in heaven.”   He added “I just hope Heaven will last longer next time.”

Another unusual figure was the Rev F.B.R. Browne, a Sussex fast bowler of the inter-war period.   He had a most peculiar action, said by Wisden to be “a weird delivery which defies description”.   In bowling he seemed to cross his legs and bowl off the wrong foot.  He gained the nickname “Tishy” after a racehorse which once crossed its legs whilst running.

Mention must be made of two Hampshire clergymen - the Rev J.R. Bridger; a useful batsman in the postwar era, and the Rev J.W.J. Steele; a pace bowler who played in 1938-39 with some success.

David Brangwyn