David Sheppard: Divine Inspiration


by Mayukh Ghosh

According to one of his regular team-mates at Sussex, " If I could have been anybody in life, I'd have liked to have been David Sheppard."
Jim Parks: " David was the finest captain I ever played under."

He led Sussex in only one summer. They challenged the 'invincible' Surrey for the title. He led England in only two Test matches.

On June 9th 1953, at Grace Road, Leicester, he did prove his worth.
Leicester led by 345 after a couple of hours into the final day. The new ball was due. Sheppard took the new ball, handed over to his fast bowler Jim Wood and said, " Don't take the ball out of its wrapping". 
Wood looked perplexed.

Leicester had no money that season. The payment their players received that season was less than the dustmen. And the balls were a major item of expenditure. 
Leicester already led by a handsome margin- no side had chased that many in the previous five years of county cricket.

Sheppard reiterated, " Don't unwrap it, Woody. And, whatever you do, don't drop it". He slowly started to change the field. It took forever.

Charles Palmer, the Leicestershire captain, came running down the stairs. 
He waved the batsmen in.

Sheppard took the ball from Wood's hand, chuckled, and murmured, " I knew they couldn't afford a new ball".

Less than four hours were left in the match. Sheppard opened the batting, scored an unbeaten 186, and took his team to victory with time to spare.

David Sheppard was born on March 6, 1929.