Brian Luckhurst

Kent and England cricketer who scorned celebrity
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The Independent Online

Brian Luckhurst entitled his 2004 biography Boot Boy to President, a totally accurate summary of the career of a cricketer who scorned celebrity, courted no controversy, always did his best for Kent, for England and his fellow man and who was rightly rewarded for 51 years' service to the county club with its highest honour. He was the nice guy who didn't finish last.

Brian William Luckhurst, cricketer: born Sittingbourne, Kent 5 February 1939; twice married (three sons); died Dover 1 March 2005.

Brian Luckhurst entitled his 2004 biography Boot Boy to President, a totally accurate summary of the career of a cricketer who scorned celebrity, courted no controversy, always did his best for Kent, for England and his fellow man and who was rightly rewarded for 51 years' service to the county club with its highest honour. He was the nice guy who didn't finish last.

A right-hand batsman of sound defence, possessing a damaging square cut, he could also bowl slow left-arm. He joined Kent as a 15-year-old, made his début in 1958 and for 13 seasons he was, in John Arlott's phrase, "an industrious anchorman". E.W Swanton's description of his style was "phlegmatic diligence".

With the more dashing Mike Denness as his partner he gave Kent a solid start in one of county cricket's best opening partnerships and made 335 first-class appearances for the county, passing 1,000 runs for the county 14 times. He was a highly athletic fielder in any position.

Kent won the Championship in 1970 and Luckhurst, at 31, found himself an England player in a home series against the Rest of the World, a contest hastily arranged to replace the abandoned South African tour. In the second match of a series that was later, controversially, to lose its Test status, he made 113, against the bowling of Mike Procter, Graham McKenzie, Gary Sobers, Lance Gibbs and Eddie Barlow, to convince the selectors he had all the qualifications, despite being dismissed twice for a duck by Procter at the Oval.

Touring Australia the following winter, the England captain Ray Illingworth decided he needed a substantial buttress against the Australian fast attack and selected three opening batsmen to start the England innings, moving John Edrich to number three and making Luckhurst Geoffrey Boycott's partner. "A top man and a good professional," was Boycott's verdict. "Loads of character and a strong mind."

Luckhurst was an inspired choice, making five centuries on the tour, two in Tests for an England team that won the Ashes. He made 455 runs at an average of 56.87 in that series. In the following summer he displayed considerable expertise against the spinners of India and Pakistan but his England career ended, at the age of 35, after he became one of several England batsmen to fail against the extreme pace of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.

He returned happily to his beloved Kent, retiring in 1976 to become first the second XI captain, then the cricket manager and manager of the Ames Levett Sports Centre. His first-class career did not end until 1985 when, in an emergency against the visiting Australians, he made up the Kent XI. He attended 50 Canterbury Festivals and was given a silver salver to mark the occasion in 2003.

Luckhurst died after long treatment for cancer. The Kent chairman, Carl Openshaw, said of him:

Brian Luckhurst has been at the heart of Kent cricket for more than 50 years, first as an outstanding player, then in a variety of administrative capacities and finally as an immensely popular president. He was always caring, loyal and totally committed to Kent and in turn was loved, admired and respected by everyone involved at the club.

Derek Hodgson

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