Obituary: Len Coldwell

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The Independent Online
John Arlott found the exact three words for Len Coldwell: an English bowler.

He had all the traditional steadfastness of a son of Devon; it's not too fanciful to suggest he would have been very much at home on the Golden Hind, under Drake, and that "Hearts of Oak" could have been written with Len Coldwell in mind.

He emerged as a fast- medium right arm bowler with Devon in 1953-54 and was 22 when he joined the Worcestershire staff, one of a number of possible successors to Reg Perks, who had set the standard for 25 years. There were four other professional contenders and an outstanding amateur in George Chesterton.

Coldwell managed only four Championship matches in 1955 but he took three wickets four times, a strike rate that persuaded the county to keep him. He took a hat trick against Leicestershire in 1957 but had to wait another two years before winning his cap, emerging with Jack Flavell to form a feared opening partnership on the New Road square of the 1960s.

He was accurate, maintaining a sustained attack with sharp inswing his major weapon. He also had a deceptive change of pace, his faster ball being considerably brisker than medium, and when he could also find bounce he would move the ball into the right-hander's gloves and body in menacing fashion. In those days gloves, a box and leg pads - with just occasionally a thigh pad - were all batsmen wore for protection. Helmets, and body padding, were unknown and, if available, would probably have been scorned.

On a hard pitch with grass, or on a green drying surface on which the ball skidded, Coldwell and Flavell were a dangerous and sometimes painful experience at New Road. When the pitch had dried, or the shine and hardness had gone, Coldwell would be a persistent, nagging stock bowler, rarely allowing an error, always liable to spring a surprise.

In 1959 he topped the county averages with 80 wickets at 20 - his career average was 21 - and took more than 1,000 wickets for his county. He wasn't a lucky player, taking a series of injuries caused, to some extent, by his own determination and it was that same determination that won him back his place. When he did complete a full summer he would bowl 1,000 overs.

He played against Pakistan in 1962 and was chosen for the tour of Australia and New Zealand, where he played three more Tests but he was not the same power abroad. He was very proud of being a member of Worcestershire's first Championship team in 1964 and for that reason will always hold a place in the heart of Worcestershire.

In 1965 he took the first eight Surrey wickets for 11 runs and the two batsmen who escaped were both missed off his bowling. The highest respect for Len Coldwell's memory will be among those batsmen who played against him.

Leonard John Coldwell, cricketer: born Newton Abbot, Devon 10 January 1933; married (one son, one daughter); died Teignmouth, Devon 6 August 1996.