The year of 1971 saw the births of no fewer than seven babies who would all eventually represent Yorkshire CCC. However, only one of them had anything other than a short career with the county and, in a sign of the times to come, only three of them were born in England. Paul Dyson looks back at the septet’s contribution to Yorkshire cricket. The photo of Matthew Elliott appears courtesy of Mick Pope.
The first of this year’s cohort of Yorkshire cricketers who will celebrate their 50th birthdays in 2021 is back with the county after a 22-year gap. Paul Grayson was born on March 31st, in Ripon and played for Yorkshire for six seasons from 1990 after spells with Bedale, Pudsey Congs and Yorkshire Bank. He usually batted in the middle order although was tried as an opener on occasions and during his time with the county he played in 52 first-class matches scoring 1,958 runs and taking 13 wickets with his left-arm spin bowling. In List A cricket he scored 587 runs and took 39 wickets in 66 games.
Having been released at the end of the 1995 season, Grayson joined Essex and there he had much greater success, scoring over 6,500 runs in nine seasons of first-class cricket. He was also given greater opportunity to bowl more and this was a factor in him playing for England in two ODIs as a lower-middle-order all-rounder. In 2007 he became the Essex coach and led the county to promotion from the Championship’s second division in 2009. Seven years later he moved back north to become coach of Durham UCCE and in the following year added the Yorkshire Diamonds to his portfolio. In 2018, though, he resigned from both of these positions and became full-time with Yorkshire once again as its batting coach.
The next two future Yorkshire cricketers to be born in 1971 were both born in Bradford. Jeremy Batty arrived on May 15th and, having played for Bingley, made his debut for Yorkshire in 1989 as an 18-year-old tall, promising off-spinner. He had six seasons in the county side and he was a regular in three of these. His best season in first-class cricket was in 1991 when he took 41 wickets, these including a career-best six for 48 against Nottinghamshire at Worksop. Four for 33 against Kent at Scarborough was his best in List A cricket, this coming in his first season in the format, also 1991, but his best wicket-tally came two years later when he took 15. His final totals for the county were 140 wickets in 64 first-class matches and 42 in 38 List A games.
Following his release by Yorkshire at the end of the 1994 season Batty spent two seasons with Somerset before playing in the Minor Counties Championship for five years with Cheshire, Shropshire and Buckinghamshire. Jeremy was six years older than his more famous brother, Gareth; their father, David, had played for Yorkshire 2nd XI in the 1960s. and was coach at Bingley when his boys played for it.
The other Bradfordian was born on June 8th. Colin Chapman was unfortunate to be a contemporary of Richard Blakey otherwise, as a wicket-keeper, he would surely have played more for the county. As it was, in a career spanning nine seasons from 1990 he managed to play in eight first-class matches and ten List A games. Like many ‘keepers, he was small in stature but was a batsman who enjoyed attacking the bowling as well as occasionally opening the batting and had a top first-class score of 80 against Lancashire at Headingley in 1997. Another product of Bingley CC, he also played for Pudsey Congs and later coached at Southport and Birkdale CC.
The four remaining cricketers in this study were all born overseas. Lesroy Weekes first saw the light of day in Plymouth on the island of Montserrat in the West Indies and he will celebrate his 50th birthday on July 19th. His only appearances for Yorkshire were two first-class matches, neither of which were in the Championship. One was in 1994 and the other came six years later. He bowled at an extremely lively pace and was very active in the game in South Yorkshire. He played mostly for Elsecar and Wath-on-Dearne but a brief spell with Doncaster Town saw him break the Yorkshire League record for most wickets in a season – a record which had stood since the 1970s.
A total of 20 of his 24 first-class matches were for his native Leeward Islands for whom he also played in 14 List A games; this was a format in which he also appeared 12 times for Northamptonshire. He later became Head of Cricket at Mount St Mary’s College in Chesterfield.
The remaining three players were all batsman, all Australian Test cricketers, and who arrived in the world within 30 days of each other. Matthew Elliott was born on September 28th in Chelsea, Victoria; he played for Yorkshire during the latter part of the 2002 season and is best remembered for making a match-winning innings of 128 not out in the C&G Trophy final at Lord’s against Somerset. A tall, left-handed opening batsman, he scored three centuries in his six List A games for the county and in five first-class matches scored 487 runs. Five years before playing for Yorkshire his first appearance at Headingley had been in the Test of 1997 when his big score of 199 had led Australia to an innings victory. He played for his country in 21 Tests and scored 1,172 runs.