Arthur Milton, by Mike Vockins

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Vic Marks, one of a gifted generation of cricketers coached by Arthur Milton at Oxford University from 1975-78, describes his fellow West Countryman as "one of the least ambitious sportsmen I've ever come across", while adding that he was "generous, gentle and wise".

Ambitious or not, Milton remains the last man to play both cricket and football for England, scoring a century against New Zealand in 1958 in the first of his six Tests, having seven years earlier been selected ahead of Stanley Matthews on the right wing in a goalless draw against Austria at Wembley (his only football cap).

It could be argued that had Milton been a more driven, self-centred personality he would have achieved greater international recognition, but as this affectionate and well-researched biography makes clear, that is to miss the point entirely.

For Milton, blessed with a sunny, glass-half-full disposition, seems to have thoroughly enjoyed his life as it was. An outstanding natural talent, at golf and snooker as well as his main sports, everything appeared to come easily to him, first at Arsenal, for whom he played 84 games, scoring 21 goals, and then in a 26-year career as a top-order batsman with Gloucestershire, finishing with over 32,000 runs – and 760 catches, the eighth-highest first-class tally.

After his stint at Oxford he became a postman, characteristically regarding it as one of the best jobs in the world: "I loved the quiet of the early morning, looking at the stars... out on my bike as life stirred so excitingly". He died aged 79 in 2007 while happily collaborating with his friend Mike Vockins on this book.

Perhaps his most fitting epitaph should be the Gloucestershire great Wally Hammond's remark on first seeing him bat as a youngster: "He'll do; but don't try to change him."

Published in hardback by SportsBooks, £18.99