Alan Oakman: Of cops and catches


by Mayukh Ghosh

"Do you know where Alan Oakman lives?"
Asks the policeman on a motorbike. 
"Can you tell him to get to Old Trafford tomorrow?", he adds.

An ordinary debut at Headingley.
Then, all of a sudden, this opportunity to play at Old Trafford.
1-1 in the 1956 Ashes series.
Gubby Allen wanted David Sheppard to be in the team.
So Oakman was left out.
But then Tom Graveney sustains a bruise finger to make Allen call Oakman at the last moment.

Richardson and Sheppard scores centuries to help England make 459 in their first innings.
A century against Lindwall and Miller!
Sheppard earns his right to be off the dreaded short-leg position.
"Oaky, do you mind going in?", shouts Peter May.

"If you don't look out, I'll hit you in the bollocks!", greets Keith Miller as he walks in to bat.
Oakman is not wearing a box but all Miller does is stab at the ball and help it on its way to short-leg.
Jim Laker takes 19 for 90.
Alan Oakman takes five catches.
England win by an innings and plenty of runs.
Just like they did in Oakman's debut Test.
But that is it for Oaky.
He never plays another Test match.

Later in 1956, he and Laker attends a dinner.
He gets introduced as the man who took five wickets in the Old Trafford Test.
Laker whispers in his ear: " You're not still living on that, are you, Oaky?"

49 years later, at Edgbaston, Stephen Chalke meets Oakman.
The old man chuckles and says: " Here I am 49 years later, still living on it!"

Alan Oakman was born on April 20, 1930.