As part of our 150th anniversary celebrations, we will be featuring 150 Lancashire 'legends' during the year. Who better to start with than the man whose named is announced throughout every match at Emirates Old Trafford. He is the incomparable Brian Statham.
The new AJ Bell Players & Media Centre is located at 'The Statham End' at Emirates Old Trafford. in addition, the office buildings on Talbot Road are home to Statham House while, in 2003, a section of Warwick Road - the part that runs from the Old Trafford tram station to Talbot Road - was renamed Brian Statham Way. So Brian Statham is inextricably and deservedly linked with the club and ground that were home to his outstanding talent.
BRIAN STATHAM was born in Gorton, Manchester, on 17 June 1930, and first played for Lancashire on his twentieth birthday.
He was a national serviceman in the RAF when he was recommended to Lancashire, and after a trial which impressed coach Harry Makepeace he was taken on the groundstaff in 1950.
Statham played Club and Ground and second-team matches before making his county debut against Kent and from then until he retired in 1968 he was never dropped by Lancashire.
As Statham walked down the steps for his debut and to bowl for the first time, Cyril Washbrook offered advice: 'Don't bowl short to Fagg. lie's a fine hooker and he'll hit you out of sight.' Statham, always a good listener, took notice although he did have one problem. He did not know which batsman was Arthur Fagg! But ignorance can be bliss and when Statham mmediately and inadvertently dropped short, Fagg mis-hit and silly mid on took the catch.
He played 430 matches and ended his illustrious career with more wickets than any other Lancashire bowler - 1,816 for the county at 15.12 each, and 2,260 in all (16.36). He played seventy times for England and at one time held the world record for the total number of wickets before finishing with 252.
When he started for Lancashire he was so innocent and raw - he says ignorant - that he had no idea about outswingers or inswingers, off-cutters or anything else. He just ran up and bowled. . . and bowled straight, one of his many admirable assets, which also included an unflappable nature which endeared him to everyone with whom he came into contact.
'It was all pure enjoyment for me,' said Statham. 'I was chucked in at the deep end but it didn't bother me. I was just having fun and I was successful. I think I was just mesmerized by it all. I was lucky to be playing cricket for a living and there were such a lot of nice people around.'
Statham took 100 wickets thirteen times and came close on four more occasions. He headed the English bowling averages three times and was in the top three six more times, but at Lancashire he headed the averages for sixteen successive seasons. Statham was one of the game's most popular players, a genuine, honest man who did not waste time or effort on play-acting on the field. . . or off it, come to that. He was straight-forward and a man with simple needs.
When the 1962-63 MCC party left for Australia, it was without Statham who followed later to join up with them in Perth. The team had gone part of the way by ship and among the decisions made was that whatever else happened, the players would all get together for breakfast every day. The arrangement worked until Statham joined them and was told about it. 'Breakfast!' he exclaimed. 'I've never had breakfast in my life. And that was the last that was heard of it.
Len Hutton described Statham as the most accurate fast bowler he ever saw and said few bowlers shaved the stumps more often. 'But never a moan or a harsh word nor a black look at the umpire or captain could be associated with Brian Statham,' he once wrote.
Cyril Washbrook admired him tremendously. 'No captain has had a more willing bowler at his command,' he wrote. 'Never once in the years I played with him did Brian ask for a single over more or show the slightest resentment when taken off or asked to bowl. He carried the Lancashire attack for years and every other Lancashire bowler ought to have been grateful for hispresence in the team.'
Brian Bearshaw - 'From The Stretford End' -the Official History of Lancashire CCC
Photo (c) PA Images