Neil McCorkell: Hampshire cricketer from the 1930s to the 1950s


Neil McCorkell was a regular in the Hampshire cricket XI from 1932 to 1951, a quiet man of no great height who kept wicket and, for much of his career, opened the batting, a demanding combination in the six-day-a-week schedule of those years.

He was born near the harbour mouth in Portsmouth in March 1912, leaving school at 14 to work at the Officers' Sports Ground of the Royal Navy. With little coaching he played his cricket for local church teams before being selected for a district XI against a visiting Hampshire side. His efficient, no-fuss keeping caught the eye, and in 1931 he joined the county staff, earmarked as the successor to the former England keeper George Brown, who by then was well into his 40s.

He made his debut in May 1932, establishing his place immediately and winning his county cap at the end of the summer. Hampshire's captain, the ageing Old Etonian Lord Tennyson, had become portly, and the other great stalwarts, Phil Mead and Alex Kennedy, were also way past their prime. Nevertheless they were legends of Hampshire's history, and the young McCorkell was in quiet awe of them. In later years he referred to that first summer as "a world of wonder".

As a batsman he had an unorthodox grip, with his hands far apart, and in the early years he lacked attacking strokes. However, he had a calm temperament and great powers of concentration, and by 1935 his repertoire of shots was beginning to expand. In July that year, in two games in the same week against Lancashire, he hit 150 at Southampton, then 154 at Liverpool. In all he scored 1,319 runs, the first of nine times he passed 1,000 in a season.

The following summer Les Ames, the England keeper, was out with a bad back, and McCorkell was a strong contender to take his place on the boat to Australia. He kept wicket tidily in the prestigious Gentlemen versus Players match at Lord's, but in the end Ames, after an operation, was fit.

He lost the years of his prime, from 28 to 33, to the war, which he spent as a firefighter at Vickers aircraft factory in Newbury. However, he was back to his best in the golden summer of 1947, averaging 40 with the bat. In 1951, in his 40th year, at Gloucester's Wagon Works ground, he hit his only double century, sharing a large partnership with a young Alan Rayment, who remembers him as "a lovely man, quiet but kind and really helpful to me".

McCorkell had started out as an awe-struck boy, almost lost for words in the great Lord Tennyson's side, and he ended up as a highly respected senior player, full of tales of his happy life on the circuit. In his last match he was given the rare honour of captaining the side, among whose number was another Old Etonian, the 17-year-old Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, who 10 years later would lead Hampshire to their first championship title.

McCorkell's kindly helpfulness, witnessed by Alan Rayment, was ideal for coaching, and after Hampshire he took up a position, which he held for 30 years, at Partown High School in Johannesburg, where he settled permanently. His death leaves only one professional cricketer who won a county cap before the last war: Cyril Perkins of Northamptonshire, who will be 102 in June.

Neil Thomas McCorkell, cricketer and coach: born Portsmouth 23 March 1912; married (wife deceased, one son); died South Africa March 2013.

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home