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Vice-President and statistician Roy Wilkinson dies, aged 86

— 2 March 2017

Roy Wilkinson, Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s statistician for over 40 years, died on Wednesday, March 1, aged 86.

Roy, who lived at Addingham, was also a Vice-President of Yorkshire CCC, an active member of the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation Archives Committee and a former editor of the Club’s widely respected Yearbook.

It was generally recognised that he was an authority on Yorkshire cricket and few people knew more about the history of the Club than he did. His own meticulous statistics and files on Yorkshire players past and present were beyond compare.

In 1996, Roy had published an invaluable book, Yorkshire County Cricket Club First-Class Records. It was a comprehensive account of all player and team statistics going back to the Club’s formation in 1863 and it became an essential work of reference for all Yorkshire cricket journalists.

The foreword to that book was written by Sir Lawrence Byford, Yorkshire CCC’s President at the time, and he observed: “Since my appointment as Yorkshire’s President six years ago, I have developed a progressive interest in cricket statistics motivated by Roy Wilkinson and especially during the Headingley Test matches. Thanks to Roy, at my luncheon speech each day, I have usually drawn upon some snippet of information relating to what happened at Headingley on that particular date some years ago or to one of the famous cricketing personalities attending the luncheon.

“Thereafter, I have been able to bask in the undeserved acclamation for having such a prodigious cricketing memory. However, in fairness, I feel I should take this opportunity of putting the record straight and also, in providing the Foreword, repay in some small way the many kindnesses that Roy has extended to me as the Club’s worthy statistician.”

Roy was responsible for the first editorial items to appear regularly in the Yearbook which had previously been solely a book of record, along with the Club’s annual reports and a list of members’ addresses.

He was followed as editor by Yorkshire-born national cricket journalist, Derek Hodgson, who, in a warm tribute to his predecessor and close friend, said: “Roy Wilkinson was a man whose dexterity with figures and records left one in awe. He was the first to invite me to contribute to that august journal [the Yearbook], tolerating my often whimsical accounts of the Scarborough Festival.

“When he resigned after a tiff over content, he eagerly supported my name as the new editor, thus starting an 18-year partnership that turned the Yearbook from a collection of records to an annual account of Yorkshire’s cricketing life and a perpetual search into the lives of the mores of the great men who had made the Club.

“We had the odd disagreement but as we were both traditionalists with a reverence for the county’s deep history we were always aiming in the same direction. Such was his command of every team’s and every player’s times that his expertise was rarely if ever challenged. What brought him special respect from old hacks such as David Warner [the current Yearbook editor], James Greenfield and myself was his journalistic dedication to the sanctity of the deadline.

“The Club now have the unenviable task of finding another such wizard to keep the Long Room boards accurately and up to date. He was a member of MCC for more than 40 years and treasured his annual visits to Lord’s almost as much as his vice-president’s chair at Headingley. To we Yearbook colleagues he was the Sage of Addingham and we shall miss him.”

Yorkshire Board member Robin Smith, a former President and Chairman of the Club, said: “Roy spent a lot of his time at Headingley in summer watching the cricket and his contributions to many a discussion about the game were much valued. His knowledge of Yorkshire cricket, its history and its statistics were of benefit to so many people and for these reasons he will be very greatly missed.”

Yorkshire Cricket Foundation Archives Committee chairman, David Allan, said: “Roy was a great brick to the fun side of cricket, demonstrating his fascination and deep knowledge of statistics which he willingly shared with his fellow cricket watchers. He will be greatly missed and remembered.”