The year of 1969 saw the debuts of two Yorkshire cricketers as well as the births of two others, one of whom would become a very good all-rounder for both England and Yorkshire. Paul Dyson looks back at the quartet’s varied careers. The photo of Craig White, taken in the year of his England debut, appears by courtesy of Mick Pope.
Despite the loss of three key players after the end of the 1968 season, it is surprising to learn that no more than two made their debuts in 1969. In July of that year Rodney Smith appeared at Gloucester to play in his first games in both first-class and List A cricket. Born in 1944 in Batley, he first played for Heckmonwike 2nd XI at the age of 14 and later captained the club’s first team to six trophies in 11 seasons. His spell as professional with Hartshead Moor was in 1969-70 and this coincided exactly with his two seasons with Yorkshire. In his first innings against Gloucestershire he scored 37 not out batting at number eight (he was a solid opener in club cricket) but this remained his best innings in first-class cricket. His five games produced 99 runs and he also played in three List A games.
One month later saw the debut of Andrew Dalton. He was a most promising, attractive and attacking batsman. Born in Horsforth, Leeds in 1947, he captained the first eleven of Leeds Grammar School in the final two of his five seasons in the team and also played for Newcastle University. Having made his debut for Yorkshire 2nd XI at the age of 18 his promotion to the first team was eagerly awaited. Though given little opportunity to begin with he played in 18 matches in the two formats in 1971 and scored two centuries in the first-class game. However, he became disillusioned with full-time cricket and left Yorkshire after the 1972 season. He later played as professional for South Northumberland, Undercliffe and Leeds.
October 1969 was the month in which Ian Houseman first saw the light of day. Born in Harrogate, he was in Harrogate Grammar School’s first eleven for five years as a bustling fast-medium bowler. His Yorkshire debut came when aged 19 while studying at Loughborough College, as it was then. His promise was unfulfilled, however as only three wickets in five first-class matches over three seasons testify. He did not play in any List A matches. He played for Cumberland in 1993 and his main clubs were Harrogate and Undercliffe.
Also celebrating his 50th birthday in 2019 will be Craig White, born just 15 days befoe the end of the year. Born in Morley, Leeds, he emigrated with his parents to Australia at the age of seven and was brought up in Victoria. He eventually played for Australia U-19 but came to England in 1990 on a cricket scholarship and joined Yorkshire’s Academy. So rapid was his progress that he made his debut for both second and first elevens in that first season when aged 19.
A very versatile player, at this stage White was an off-spinner who also kept wicket but was also a most adaptable batsman in that he could bat in any position in the order and had a good range of attacking strokes. Capped in 1993 and having changed his bowling style to fast-medium, he played in the first of his 30 Test matches – for England – in the following year. Although he did not become a regular in the England team until 2000 he was then an automatic selection for over three years and became the first Yorkshire player to be credited with both a century and a five-for in Test cricket since Wilfred Rhodes. He was also a valuable member of the one-day side and played in 51 games in that format.
White was the county’s best all-rounder of the period in which he played and was an indispensible member of the team in both formats. In over 200 first-class matches for the county he scored over 10,000 runs and took more than 250 wicfkets. In List A cricket he is the only Yorkshire player to score over 6,000 runs and take over 200 wickets. Rewarded with the captaincy in 2004, he led Yorkshire for three seasons, during the second of which the county achieved promotion from the Championship’s second division. From 2009 he was the first team’s assistant coach and took up the same post with Hampshire in 2012; for two years from 2016 he was his new county’s head coach. During this short period Hampshire retained its division one status and also reached, in 2017, T20 finals day.