Obituary: Lionel Lister

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The Independent Culture
LIONEL LISTER was an amateur right-hand batsman who captained Lancashire in the four years preceding the Second World War. He is fondly remembered at Old Trafford for a very brave innings at Trent Bridge in a match so controversial that Lancashire refused to play Nottinghamshire in 1935, and for being called up, by army telegram, while waiting to bat in 1939.

In 1934 Nottinghamshire possessed the most feared opening attack in the world, two fast bowlers, in the right-arm Harold Larwood and the left- arm Bill Voce. The pair had been Douglas Jardine's principal weapons in the conquest of Australia in the infamous "bodyline" tour of 1932-33. Nottinghamshire,under Arthur Carr, had used similar tactics in county matches, causing much anger and protest.

Lancashire, a strong batting side, were dismissed for 119, Larwood 6- 51, Voce 4-49. Lister, then 22, was hit in the chest by Larwood and knocked to the ground; in the second innings he came in with 35 needed to avoid an innings defeat and the four best batsmen out. The pitch had gone flat and with the fast attack tiring Lister (86) was able to add 182 in 130 minutes with Ernest Tyldesley (109).

Nottinghamshire were left to score 248 on what was then a turning surface and the left-arm spinner Len Hopwood, 6-58, bowled them out for 146, George Duckworth, the wicketkeeper, celebrating victory by throwing all three stumps into the air.

Lancashire went on to win the championship, fielding for the first time, in the return match with Nottinghamshire, an eleven born in the county. By 1935 Carr had retired, Larwood and Voce were disillusioned with the continuing furore and Lister ended 1935 as the new Lancashire captain.

He was the popular and supportive leader of a strong side but one lacking a genuine fast bowler. He opened a new ground, at Preston, in 1936 where a local reporter wrote: "There was none of the yelling, shouting and vulgarity you unfortunately get at most football matches. I am speaking quite seriously when I say that anyone troubled with nerves - and I'm afraid most of us are in these days of noise, speed, wireless and gramophones - will be well advised to pay a visit."

Lister's batsmen were criticised for stodgy play. They retorted by complaining of slow pitches, adding, "We have done no worse than follow the usual policy of Lancashire cricket for many years past." The committee, on a day Lancashire scored 358-6 against Warwickshire, growled that while Lancashire batsmen may have been bores it would be unwise of the present players to assume they could be both bores and failures.

Lister was at Northampton when he was ordered to join an artillery regiment. He took off his pads, said goodbye to the team and went off to become a Brigade Major. The scorebook entry read "Lister, absent, 0".

Lister was the son of a managing director of Cunard and an outstanding games player at Malvern, scored a century as a Cambridge undergraduate, for the county, but failed to win a Blue, yet captained the university at football, played 11 times for the Corinthians and won England amateur caps at right half. He may have finished with a first-class average of 18 but he did once score a century before lunch against Middlesex at Lord's. He was Lancashire's president in 1969-70.

William Hubert Lionel Lister, cricketer: born Formby, Lancashire 11 October 1911; married 1937 Peggy Charlton (one son, one daughter); died Bridgenorth, Shropshire 29 July 1998.