Norman Horner

Batsman who abandoned Yorkshire for Warwickshire

Norman Frederick Horner, cricketer: born Queensbury, Yorkshire 10 May 1926; died Driffield, East Yorkshire 24 December 2003.

Norman Horner was a short, free-scoring right-hand batsman who emerged from the Bradford League to play two matches for Yorkshire in 1950 and then, finding himself way down the queue for a place as an opening bat, moved to Warwickshire on a special registration in 1951, where he spent the next 15 years and 357 matches proving Yorkshire were wrong to release him.

He passed 1,000 runs in a season 12 times, scoring 1,902 at an average of 33 in 1960, the year he recorded his career-best 203 not out against Surrey at the Oval. In that same match he shared a Warwickshire record opening stand of 377 with Billy Ibadulla.

Always a popular figure whether at Edgbaston or back at his home-town club of Queensbury, he was a keen gardener who became a groundsman, retiring from Warwick School in 1989. Jack Bannister, the former Warwickshire bowler and cricket correspondent of the Birmingham Post, tells of Horner's return to Yorkshire as a Warwickshire player.

The scene was Park Avenue, Bradford. Yorkshire were batting and Ted Lester hit a no-ball high towards where Horner was fielding in the boundary. The umpire's call did not carry to the ring and Horner, aware of what had happened, allowed the ball to drop to earth before casually returning it to the wicket-keeper.

According to Bannister, two watching Yorkshire spectators were scandalised:

"Didsta see that?"

"Aye, ah did. It were ower Norman that let it drop, What wor 'e thinking of?"

There was a moment of contemplation at such incompetence before one patted the other's arm: "Tha sees. Blood tells."

Derek Hodgson

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