Former Lancashire and England leg-spin bowler Tommy Greenhough has died at the age of 77.
Tom excelled at cricket when he was in short trousers. Among his memorabilia is a cricket ball presented to him for taking 85 wickets in a season for Fieldhouse Seconds at just fourteen years of age.
At sixteen years he joined Lancashire but before he had made his first team appearance he fell 30ft from a loading bay at the printers yard where he worked in the winter. He smashed bones in both feet so badly that one foot was still out of shape when he retired. Seeing the injury, Lancashire refused to renew his contract but he persuaded the Committee to sign him on a week by week basis.
Determined to succeed, Tom made his first-class debut in 1951 shortly after he broke his fingers playing in the leagues. As well as those horrific injuries, Greenhough had to compete for his place with international spinners Malcolm Hilton, Roy Tattersall and Bob Berry.
Five years after his debut he was awarded his county cap and was taken to Jamaica with the Duke of Norfolk's XI. Three years later he had become England's leading leg-break bowler, taking 122 wickets, and was called up to play for his country against India. In his second Test match at Lord's he took 5-35 in the first innings, some achievement after being told he would never bowl again following those early injuries.
When umpires and players complained about his delivery action roughing up the pitch, Tom announced his temporary retirement from the game after just 2 Tests in order to remedy the fault. Correcting the problem, he received his deserved reward by being selected for the Fifth Test match at The Oval and for the MCC tour to the West Indies.
His excellent season in 1960 with 121 wickets at 18.2 brought him another Test call against the South Africans. He suffered further injuries to fingers and shoulders but always came back fighting. He produced his career best, 7 for 56 against the champion county, Worcestershire in 1964.
Tommy took 751 wickets in his career, playing in around half the games he might have done. Had he not fought against all odds, including preventing a surgeon ftom amputating a finger following a cricket injury, he could never have achieved his ambition to play so well for county and country.
Those who saw him will always remember that enthusiastic bouncy spring and hop in his run-up, expecting a wicket with every ball.
He overcame so many obstacles throughout his career that, unwittingly, he inspired all Lancastrians to learn from his adaptability, persistence and self belief.
Tommy Greenhough Career Figures