Black History Month: Cardigan Connor

Hampshire Cricket – courtesy of Club Historian Dave Allen – is marking Black History Month this October by celebrating and honouring the contributions of some of the best players to ever represent the Club

CARDIGAN Adolphus CONNOR (1984-1998)
Born 24 March 1961, The Valley Anguilla

Right Handed Batter, Right Arm Fast-Medium Bowler

221 First-Class Matches, County Cap 1988
Batting: 1,814 runs, average 11.93, Two half-centuries
Highest Score 59 v Surrey at The Oval 1993
Bowling: 614 wickets, average 31.74, 18 five-fors, Four ten wicket match hauls
Best Bowling Innings 9-38 v Gloucestershire at Southampton 1996
Catches: 61

300 Limited Overs Matches
Bowling: 407 wickets, average 24.78, One five-fors
Best Bowling 5-25 v Northamptonshire at Basingstoke 1996
Catches: 55

Cardigan Adolphus Connor was born in Anguilla in 1961 and was raised there by his grandparents after his parents moved to Slough. In 1976 he came to England to join his parents and began playing club cricket in the area leading to selection for Buckinghamshire in the Minor Counties Championship in 1979 at the age of 18; among his team-mates was the future Hampshire batter and 2nd XI coach Richard Hayward and others who had played county cricket. In 33 matches over five seasons he took 78 wickets in the Championship and a couple more in limited overs games. In 1980 he also played in a trial for Gloucestershire 2nd XI against Leicestershire but took no wickets and was not invited back.

Meanwhile, Hampshire having signed Malcolm Marshall in 1979 had struggled to find a regular opening partner for him. For short periods, Keith Stevenson came from Derbyshire and Steve Malone from Essex, while in 1982 Kevin Emery burst onto the scene from nowhere. At the age of 22 he took 83 first-class wickets at 23.72 but injuries and loss of form meant that he would take just five the following season and that was it. In 1984 there were further problems, Malcolm Marshall was touring so they signed his fellow West Indian fast bowler Milton Small but a late call-up for him also meant a third choice from the Caribbean in the very inexperienced Elvis Reifer, who took 38 expensive Championship wickets. Stevenson and Emery played only for the 2nd XI, and Malone took just one Championship wicket, so Tim Tremlett and the spinners Maru and Cowley led the attack.

Charlie Knott, Hampshire’s Chairman of Cricket, asked around and received a tip from Chris Goldie Hampshire’s reserve wicketkeeper about a young West Indian bowler impressing in club cricket, Cardigan Connor. He played a trial at Bournemouth for the 2nd XI against Somerset and bowling after Stevenson, Emery and Malone took 5-58, scored 46* and had a sixth wicket in the second innings. He was offered a contract and on first-class debut against Somerset at Southampton took three wickets as their opponents were reduced to 25-5 and Hampshire went on to their first victory of 1984. In that first season, Cardigan Connor took 62 wickets at just over 30 each, including 7-37 v Kent at Bournemouth.

In first-class cricket he was less successful for a few years until in 1988 with Marshall touring again he took 55 wickets at 27.21 and was awarded his county cap, then in 1989, there were 59 wickets at 21.27, with 7-31 v Gloucestershire at Portsmouth. In some respects, it was fortunate for Hampshire that he was more effective as Marshall reached the end of his career; on the other hand, performing at their best together, they must surely have brought the 1980s side a Championship title. His captain, Mark Nicholas (2016) described him as Marshall’s “off-sider” adding he was a “lion-hearted cricketer and an utterly charming and self-deprecating man … one of the club’s finest signings” (92).

By 1989, he had played with Hampshire’s third Sunday League Champions (1986) and their first Lord’s Cup winners (1988), and he was one of a small number who appeared in the first three Lord’s Finals of 1988, 1991 & 1992, all won by Hampshire. His batting was generally unremarkable, albeit as cheerful as his general disposition, although he did score two half-centuries with a best of 59 at the Oval in 1993. In 1996, he became one of Hampshire’s (then) twelve bowlers to take nine wickets in an innings – 9-38 v Gloucestershire at Southampton – although oddly he failed to add the one wicket required for 10 in the match. It was however, Hampshire’s record analysis at their old headquarters and by the end of his career he had played in 300 limited-overs matches for Hampshire as well as 200 in the Championship. He stands 15th in the county’s all-time first-class wicket-takers, and only Marshall and Udal of those who played in the past 40 years have more than his 614 wickets. In addition, his 411 limited-overs wickets are more than any other Hampshire cricketer, and it was his final over at the Oval in 1986 that brought that last Sunday League title. Cardigan Connor was a delightfully happy cricketer, and hugely popular with Hampshire’s supporters. He is now Parliamentary Secretary for Tourism in Anguilla but still visits his old English county when possible.

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