Don Wilson and the finish that served the cause of romance


by Mayukh Ghosh

Bert Sutcliffe did it against Neil Adcock.
Geoff Edrich managed to do the same against a rampaging Frank Tyson.
And 'Mad Jack' did it against 'Mad Jack'.

On Tuesday the sixth of June 1961, Worcestershire thought they had beaten Yorskhire, the defending champions, by 35 runs.
The crowd stood up when they saw the players preparing to leave the field.

Then Don Wilson came out. His left arm in plaster from elbow to knuckles.
The match was not over. One more wicket was to be taken.

Don was injured on Saturday and by Tuesday should have been back with the specialist in Leeds.
He had a broken bone at the base of his thumb.

His captain was furious when Don wanted to bat: "You are not batting. You could do yourself incredible damage. If you bat, you'll never bat for Yorkshire again."
They were 86 for 7, chasing 190 to win.
But then there was a 60 run partnership.
"All right. If there's just five minutes to go, you can bat."

9 for 154 with half an hour to go. But no one could stop Don from going out.
He had to defend most of the balls . It was painful.
Then, with ten minutes to go, he swung away at two leg-side balls from Norman Gifford to bring the target down to 22.
Bob Platt, his partner, was astonished.
"What the hell are you doing? We are playing for a draw."
"We're not. We are going for a win."

'Mad Jack' Flavell was at his peak. He took 171 wickets in 1961 to earn a place in the England team.
Seeing him at the top of his run up, Don was suggested to 'waste some time- adjust your box'.
But he was swinging with just one hand on the bat.
18 came of the over.
"Flavell let out more expletives in those few minutes than Fred Trueman got through in a whole season!"

Four to get. One over to be bowled.
"Just touch it. Let's get one.", shouted Don.
He got the strike after scampering for a single.
And then a straight hit over Len Coldwell's head for four......

29 not out. Worth more than most centuries scored in first-class cricket.
In Yorkshire Post, Jim Kilburn wrote, " The only possible finish that would serve the cause of romance....."

Don Wilson successfully succeeded Johnny Wardle and went on to take over 1000 wickets for Yorkshire.
But if anything defined the way he played the game, it was that innings of 29 not out on a warm evening at New Road.

Don Wilson was born on August 7, 1937.