Hampshire Cricket: Black History Month (Part Four)

Hampshire Cricket's historian, Dave Allen, is back with a series of articles for Black History Month

Hampshire Cricket's historian, Dave Allen, is back with a series of articles for Black History Month - read part four below.

The Playfair Cricket Annual of 1962, its last year as a glossy, illustrated publication, carried its usual team photos of the 17 county sides. Hampshire took pride of place as the previous year’s County Champions and their photo included Danny Livingstone, the only man who had played in every one of their 35 first-class matches in 1961. The photos of the other 16 sides included just three other men from the Caribbean: Peter Wight (Somerset) from Guyana and two Jamaicans, Worcestershire’s Ron Headley, whose batsman father George Headley was a West Indian hero in the 1930s and Nottinghamshire’s Carlton Forbes. 

The arrival in Britain of the Empire Windrush a decade earlier had brought many West Indian cricket lovers to Britain but while many played cricket locally and West Indians featured in the Northern Leagues they were not yet seen in the professional county game to any great extent. But by the 1970s, Test players like Garry Sobers, Lance Gibbs, Deryck Murray, Alvin Kallichraran, Bernard Julien, Keith Boyce and Rohan Kanhai were playing county cricket and at Hampshire they might meet up with pace bowler John Holder (1966-1972), off-spinner Larry Worrell (1969-1972) cousin of the great West Indian captain Sir Frank and most significantly Gordon Greenidge from Barbados by way of Reading where he settled in the early 1960s.

Greenidge played for Berkshire Bantams and Hampshire Colts, then in August 1967 made his debut for the county’s 2nd XI. He joined the county staff and qualified by residence, making his Championship debut in early August against Sussex at Bournemouth, batting at number six, and ten days later he played in his first Sunday League match and opened with Barry Richards for the first time.

The rest is history of course as Gordon Greenidge became one of the greatest of Hampshire cricketers and shared two wonderful partnerships, with Richards in the last Hampshire side to win the Championship in 1973, and with Desmond Haynes in the all-conquering West Indian team over the best part of two decades. For Hampshire, Greenidge scored almost 20,000 first-class runs in his 275 matches at an average of 45.50, with 48 centuries and an interesting highest score of 259 against Sussex at Southampton in late 1975. On that day, he reached each of the five landmark 50s & 100s with a six and his score was then the highest by any Black West Indian batsman in English county cricket, beating an innings of 229 by Charles Ollivierre for Derbyshire against Essex at Chesterfield in 1904. Ollivierre had incidentally opened the batting for the West Indian tourists against Hampshire at Southampton in 1900.  

In addition to his first-class exploits, Gordon Greenidge also played in 273 limited-overs matches for Hampshire, scoring almost 10,000 runs at 38.37. In 1977 his innings of 177 in a Gillette Cup match against Glamorgan at Southampton remained Hampshire’s highest one-day score until beaten by James Vince in 2017. Greenidge was also a member of all three Hampshire sides that won the Sunday League in 1975, 1978 and 1986 and in first-class cricket his 315 catches made him one of the few regular Hampshire fielders to average better than one catch per match. He played in 108 Test Matches averaging a fraction under 45; a great player he would be joined at Hampshire in the 1970s by two more of the finest West Indian cricketers, pace bowlers Andy Roberts and Malcolm Marshall.

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