The interest shown in the last two blogs on Sachin Tendulkar reminded me of an interesting Ashbrooke link with another cricketing great – Geoff Boycott. By the summer of 1963 Geoff had worked his way through the various Yorkshire sides but had not, as yet, been awarded his cap. This was to come in October 1963. As a result and despite his high ranking in the batsman’s table for 1963, he still qualified to play for a Minor Counties select side. In mid-July 1963 that side had a fixture with the West Indies at Ashbrooke and Geoff was duly selected.
The 1963 West Indies side was a great one with Hall, Griffiths and Gibb outstanding. It won the test series against England – best remembered for the courage of Colin Cowdrey who batted on with a broken arm. Many of the stars were rested for the Ashbrooke match yet the West Indies still managed to put out a strong side. Frank Worrell, the tour captain played as did legendary spinner Alf Valentine who had visited Ashbrooke just over a decade earlier.
The game was over two days and ended in rather a tame draw. The Minor Counties batted first and scored 163. Lester King took 6-43 for the tourists. Geoff Boycott batted patiently before being bowled by Seymour Nurse for 16.
The visitors replied with 203-8 declared with Easton McMorris top-scoring with 73. The Minor Counties battled to 95-5 before play ended on the second and last day with the openers Knox and Ellis doing enough to save the day. Alf Valentine also had a good work out – bowling 28 overs in the first innings.
Geoff Boycott did not bowl and did not bat in the second innings. He ended the season in second place in the batting averages and just under a year later began his illustrious test match career. From the relatively humble setting of Ashbrooke to the test grounds of the world and a century of centuries!