Obituary: J. M. Kilburn

James Maurice Kilburn, journalist: born 8 July 1909; married (one son, two daughters); died 28 August 1993.

IF LANCASHIRE had the young Neville Cardus then Yorkshire had JM Kilburn. The careers of the two writers overlapped sufficiently for them to be considered of an era although the two were totally dissmiliar in style, conviction and ambition. Cardus wrote about art, Kilburn wrote about cricket, both provided an invaluable reflection of English life before the last war.

Cardus was an unashamed romantic, given to rhapsodic flights whether praising Mahler or Makepeace and cheerfully confessing to a little embroidery of case or character. Kilburn, a former schoolmaster invited first to contribute on cricket by the Yorkshire Post, then appointed Cricket Correspondent, a position he held for 30 years, could never have condoned the slightest inaccuracy.

He first reported Yorkshire cricket at the start of one of that county's outstanding periods when the team, under Brian Sellers, won the Championship on seven occasions in the 1930s. Kilburn's especial favourites were Hedley Verity, Bill Bowes and the young Len Hutton and it is through his writings that these three in particular have become better known, the flesh and blood behind the figures.

The Yorkshire press box of his time was a forbidding place. Not only the Yorkshire Post but four other Yorkshire newspapers posted permanent correspondents to the team and a young reporter appearing for the first time was tolerated only on a 'speak when you are spoken to' basis. Hutton confirmed that a similar regime existed in Sellers' dressing-room.

Kilburn was a tall, spare figure, gruff-voiced, who proved to be, on better acquaintance, a shy man. He wrote long hand, drawing on his considerable experience of club cricket and an intuitive perception of the nuances of the game. His copy would be telephoned to Leeds by a young man hired for the occasion and Kilburn and company would then set off to catch the train.

On one occasion, late in his career, when Dr Beeching had so reduced the train services that it was impossible to make a connection after the end of play, he left before the end, his readers being informed of the reason when they read his dispatch.

One of his most memorable pieces recorded Yorkshire's last victory before the outbreak of war in 1939, a win at Hove that confirmed another Championship. With train and bus services disrupted and German bombers expected, the team slept overnight in a pub lounge in the Midlands and eventually struggled back into City Square, Leeds, where, Kilburn noted, for once letting emotion peep, a great team broke up never to meet again.

Jim Kilburn was also a founder member of the Cricket Writers Club, becoming a long-serving secretary, chairman and an Honorary Life Member. When Yorkshire opened their new Press Box at Headingley five years ago Kilburn performed the ceremony and on Sunday Headingley's flags flew at half-mast. He is the only journalist to be elected a Life Member by Yorkshire.

His essays, such as 'Overthrows' and 'In Search of Cricket' are part of the game's literature. All his work will be valued as an accurate insight into social attitudes in the first half of this century. Jim Kilburn intended always to write about cricket but in fact he told us all so much more.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company provides global satellite communi...

Austen Lloyd: Practice / HR Manager - Somerset

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A rare and exciting opportunity for a Practice...

Ashdown Group: HR Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms