Alan West: Cricket statistician and scorer who served England and Lancashire and became father confessor to players

He revelled in the time spent chewing over new ideas with cricketers he came to know and respect

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Rarely making headlines are that unsung army of cricket scorers who so faithfully sustain our summer game. One outstanding exponent was Alan West who, over the course of some 15 seasons served Lancashire and England with equal distinction. In reality, he was perhaps the best friend many a cricketer ever had.

Educated at Manchester Grammar School, West went on to read Modern Languages at Downing College, Cambridge. After National Service with the RAF, his teaching career took him to Mill School, London, then Bolton School and St Mary’s College, Blackburn, where he was Head of Modern Languages. He later worked for the Joint Matriculation Board.

West was an accomplished and thoughtful club cricketer. A leg-spin bowler with a well-disguised top spinner, he was on occasion unplayable. An equally compact and competent lower-order batsman, he was capable of playing many delightful cameo innings.

As his playing days wound down, West began to make an even deeper impression on the game as an administrator. Elected Chairman of the Association of County Scorers, he sat on the board of the England and Wales Cricket Board Association of Cricket Officials and was a member of both the Lancashire Schools Executive and the Ribblesdale League Management Committee. He also served as a governor of Bury Grammar School.

For many years he was the voice of cricket on BBC Radio Lancashire. As a writer he made many definitive contributions to specialist periodicals; to an authoritative Ribblesdale League Centenary Handbook he later added a meticulously researched History of the Lancashire Cricket Federation. Sadly, a long-awaited volume on the Lancashire spinners, Bob Berry and Malcolm Hilton, remains unpublished. In 1998 he succeeded Bill Davies as Lancashire scorer. That year the county carried off both the NatWest Trophy and the AXA Sunday League title. Twelve months later, as he scored in his first Test for England, against New Zealand, Lancashire won the Pro 40/National League.

West did much more than just take charge of the scorebook: he became father confessor, travel organiser and general factotum. Loving every moment, he particularly revelled in the time spent chewing over new ideas with cricketers he had come to know and respect. For him, this sharing of experiences was unquestionably what the job was all about.

The highlight of his time at Old Trafford undoubtedly came at Taunton in September 2011 when, for the first time in 61 years, Lancashire laid claim to the County Championship. By then he had begun the long struggle with the cancer that would eventually take his life. Despite this, a recent appearance on the BBC quiz programme Eggheads offered a reminder of his distinctive talents.

Alan West, cricket scorer, statistician and teacher: born St Helens 24 December 1937; married 1964 Janet Carlton (three sons); died Bolton 28 September 2014.