One of Yorkshire’s best batsmen of the 1930s died in 1968; so did three other Yorkshire players and Paul Dyson looks back over their careers. The photos of Wilf Barber and Cyril Turner are courtesy of Mick Pope.
The first of 1968’s sad deaths, as far as Yorkshire CCC was concerned, was Charles Hardisty who passed away in the March of that year in Leeds. He was born in 1885 in Horsforth, Leeds and played in 38 matches in four seasons from 1906. A total of 21 of these came in 1908 and he scored 730 runs, including four half-centuries at an average of 25.17 in what was easily his best season. He opened the batting, often with Wilfred Rhodes, but received little opportunity in his other seasons. Despite this he was awarded a county cap – a surprising move for am player who averaged fewer than 20 in his full career in which he totalled less than 1,000 runs. His highest innings of 84 came in 1908 at Leicester.
After his experience with Yorkshire, Hardisty had two seasons with Northumberland in the Minor Counties Championship. In pending 12 years in that region he played for Consett and Wallsend, the latter as professional. His earlier clubs had been Horsforth Hall Park and Leeds and when he returned to his native county he captained Horsforth and also played for Keighley and Whitkirk.
Four months later the death of Harry Bedford occurred but he was in a quite different part of the country having passed away in Croydon, Surrey. He was just 60, having been born in 1907 in Morley. At the age of 21 he had his only season in first-class cricket when he played for Yorkshire in just five Championship matches as a promising all-rounder in the late-summer of 1928. He scored 57 runs and took eight wickets with his leg-breaks and googlies. He bowled in seven innings and six of his eight wickets came in one of them when he took six for 91 against Derbyshire at Dewsbury.
The most significant Yorkshire player to die in 1968 was Wilf Barber. He passed away in the September of that year in Bradford and was one of the stalwarts of the highly-successful Yorkshire teams of the 1930s as well as a Test-player, albeit briefly. Born in Cleckheaton in 1901 he was an opening batsman for Gomersal but had to wait until he was 25 before gaining a place in the Yorkshire side. When he eventually became a settled member of the team he batted in the middle order and was awarded his county cap in 1929.
Barber was a steadfast batsman but played in an attractive style; in every season from 1932 to 1939 he scored over 1,000 runs except in 1936 when he was only seven runs short. That was one of the two seasons – 1934 being the other – between 1931 and 1946 when Yorkshire did not win the Championship. His highest score of 255, made against Surrey at Sheffield, came in 1935 and his haul of 2,147 runs in that year represented the best season of his career. One of the consequences of this was that he was selected to play in two Tests against South Africa and although he only averaged just above 20 he went on a non-Test tour of Australia and New Zealand the succeeding winter. Most of the games took place in the latter-named country and Barber averaged over 50 in making well over 500 runs.
Prior to his international activities, Barber had featured in a second-wicket stand of 346 with Maurice Leyland at Sheffield against Middlesex in 1932. That partnership remains Yorkshire’s record for that particular wicket and only three older stands remain on the list – one of them, the famous 555 at Leyton, having been set just a few weeks earlier. The side of the 1930s was known for its fielding prowess and Barber contributed fully to this with his brilliance in the outfield.
Barber retired at the end of the 1947 season, by which time he was aged 46, having received a testimonial of £2,958 in the previous year. He had scored over 15,000 runs for Yorkshire including 27 centuries. His full first-class run-tally totalled 16,402 at an average of 34.38. He then went into coaching, being employed by the North Riding Education Authority and combined these duties with further club cricket as professional with Lidget Green and then King Cross. In the early 1960s he coached at Ashville College, Harrogate, a position he fulfilled for four years.
Another member of the 1930s squad, Cyril Turner, passed away in the November of 1968 – in Wath-on-Dearne, Rotherham. A useful all-rounder, he gained a regular place in the side in only four of his 15 seasons. He was born in Wombwell, Barnsley in 1902 and from 1925 played in only 25 games in his first nine seasons in the side. In each of 1932 and 1933, however, he was the leading batsman in the second eleven, scoring most runs and coming in first place in the batting averages. A left-hander, he then had his best season in first-class cricket, scoring over 1,000 runs for the only time in his career, and was awarded his county cap.
Turner contributed valuably to five Championship-winning teams, marking the 1937 success with his best season with the ball in taking 43 wickets. As a back-up bowler, his pace was medium but he took wickets at useful times. The best of his four five-fors was seven for 54 at Gloucester in 1935. Each of his two centuries came in 1936, the higher score being 130 at Sheffield against Somerset. He continued to be associated with the game after his playing career had finished in 1946; he had been awarded a testimonial that year and this brought him £2,439. He was involved with Sheffield United CC from 1924 to 1953 and later took up coaching. For eight seasons from 1952 he occasionally acted as Yorkshire’s scorer.
Tony Woodhouse: A Who’s Who of Yorkshire County Cricket Club (1992)