Yorkshire County Cricket Club send their very best wishes to Bob Appleyard, one of Yorkshire and England’s greatest-ever bowlers, who celebrated his 90th birthday last Friday.
Bob, who was born in Wibsey, Bradford, and has lived in Ilkley for many years, captured 200 first class wickets in his first full season in 1951 – a feat which remains unequalled.
Even more remarkably, throughout that summer Bob was starting to feel tired with the onset of the tuberculosis which was to result in major lung surgery and caused him to miss the 1952 and 1953 seasons.
But Bob bounced back in 1954 with a total of 154 first class wickets, 141 of them for Yorkshire, and he made his England debut in the second Test against Pakistan at Trent Bridge. He did so in style, capturing five for 51 and two for 72 as England triumphed by an innings and 129 runs.
Bob played a key part in England’s triumph over Australia during the winter of 1954-55, their first Ashes win ‘Down Under’ since the ‘bodyline’ series of 1932-33 and the first time they had retained the Ashes in almost 30 years.
From his debut in 1950 to his final game in 1958, Bob played in 133 matches for Yorkshire in which he claimed 642 wickets at a mere 15.42 runs apiece.
In all first class cricket he took 708 wickets in his 152 matches at an average of 15.48 and he maintained a similarly high standard in his nine Test appearances with 31 wickets, each costing him only 17.87 runs.
But for ill-health considerably shortening both his Yorkshire and England careers, Bob’s haul of wickets would undoubtedly have been even greater.
Bob has continued to be closely involved in Yorkshire cricket in later life and was President of the county club in 2006-08. He gave active service on the general committee as well as the cricket committee and he played a major role in the Yorkshire Cricket Academy starting up at Bradford Park Avenue in 1989 before it later moved to Headingley.