Peter Sainsbury: Cricketer and coach who became the only player to feature in both Hampshire's County Championship titles

 

Peter Sainsbury was at the heart of Hampshire cricket, as player and coach, for almost 40 years. He alone played in both their championship-winning sides, in 1961 and 1973.

A lad from Chandler's Ford, he came on to the staff in 1950, at the age of 15, where his exceptional ability as a fielder stood out immediately. National Service in the Army delayed his progress into the first team, but he arrived with a bang in the summer of 1955. A slow left-arm bowler, he took 102 wickets, celebrating his 21st birthday by dismissing the great Len Hutton twice in a day at Bradford. An effective batsman in the middle order and a brilliant close-to-the-wicket catcher, he was selected for an England "A" tour of Pakistan that winter.

With short fingers he was not a great spinner of the ball, and in Pakistan he saw the difference in class between himself and his fellow tourist Tony Lock. He came home trying to bowl like Lock, and it did not work: "I lost what I did naturally. It took me a couple of years to get it back."

To all appearances he never again featured on the radar of the England selectors. Instead, he became the ideal county cricketer: a great team man, who mixed a quiet kindness with a determination to maintain the highest of standards. A true competitor who loved his cricket, he was always in the game.

His busy right-handed batting, working the ball cleverly and scampering singles, brought him 1,000 runs in a season six times, and his close catching was the equal of anybody in the game. He kept himself fit, and his last years as a player were as good as any. In 1971, at the age of 37, in what was now a shorter first-class season, he took 107 wickets, second only to the West Indian Lance Gibbs. In 1973, when Hampshire won the championship, he was second in the national bowling averages; in 1976, his last year, fourth. There were still runs and catches, too.

He was a popular and successful county coach, though he never quite came to terms with the idea that he could help the great West Indian fast bowler Malcolm Marshall. "I'd ask him, 'Why do you think you're not getting any wickets, Maco?' And I'd let him tell me."

His great ambition, to play for England, remained unfulfilled. Several times his fielding saw him selected as 12th man, but to his disappointment he was never required. "The closest I got was the time I thought Ted Dexter was waving for a hat. I ran out with it. 'What are you doing out here?' he said. 'No, I don't want a bloody hat. Get off.'"

In 2004 a letter came into my possession. Written from Sydney in the early stages of England's tour of Australia in 1958-59, it revealed that one evening they decided to send for another slow bowler and opted for Sainsbury. The next morning, however, they changed their mind and sent for John Mortimore. I showed it to the long-retired Sainsbury, and his reaction was typical of his good-humoured modesty. "To think I got that close," he said. "Between going to bed and getting up. I'd like a copy of that letter for the family. You've made my life!"

Peter James Sainsbury, cricketer and coach: born Chandlers Ford, Hampshire 13 June 1934; married Joyce (one son, one daughter); died Southampton 12 July 2014.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living