We continue our series on Lancashire 'legends' by focusing on that great left-handed batsman Eddie Paynter.
EDDIE PAYNTER was born on Guy Fawkes Day in 1901 which perhaps accounts for the fireworks he produced in his batting.
He started work when he was 12, dividing his day between school and the cotton mill, a natural stepping-stone for an Oswaldtwistle working-class lad. He finished school at 13 and went to the brickworks where he lost the ends of the first and second fingers of his right hand in a brick press. It was an injury which forced him to pull out of a Test match twenty-three years later when one of the fingers was so badly bruised and swollen he could not hold the bat.
Paynter was brought up on Lancashire League cricket with Enfield, the same club that was to produce Jack Simmons. He had a trial with Lancashire at 18 immediately after the First World War, played in the second team at 19, but did not get on to the staff and into the first team until he was 24.
Another five years passed before he got a regular place in the Lancashire team and in that same season, 1931, when he was 29 years old, he scored his first century and made his Test debut. The following year he played the innings he regarded as his best, 152 out of Lancashire's total of 263 against Yorkshire at Bradford when he twice hit the left-arm spin of Hedley Verity into the stand and twice over the stand. He hit five 6's and seventeen 4's and his last 50 runs came in half an hour.
Paynter went on the Bodyline tour of Australia in 1932-3 and became a hero when he rose from his sick-bed in Brisbane to win a Test match for England. He spent four days in hospital with tonsillitis but returned to the game to hit the winning runs with a six. He played three Tests in Australia and two in New Zealand and although he averaged 61.33 in Australia, he did not play Test cricket again until 1937.
In 1937 Paynter played in the Old Trafford Test and then travelled all night by train to play for Lancashire at Hove the following day. Far from exhausted, he opened with Cyril Washbrook and posted a century before lunch in an opening partnership of 268, and went on to bat for five hours scoring 322! Lancashire went on to win the game by an innings.
He was one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year in 1937, but got into the first Test against Australia at Trent Bridge in 1938 only because Joe Hardstaff was injured. He scored 216 not out, a record in England against Australia at the time. He averaged more than 100 from six Test innings that summer and went to South Africa that winter where he averaged 81 in Tests.
Despite these great figures, Paynter was dropped for the third and final Test against West Indies in 1939. Lancashire were playing at Trent Bridge when the team was announced and one of the batsmen brought into the England team was Nottinghamshire's Walter Keeton. Paynter made up his mind to show the selectors they were wrong, which he did with an innings of 154. That turned out to be Paynter's last century for Lancashire. The Second World War was just around the corner and when it was over, Paynter was 44 and no longer in Lancashire's plans.
Paynter played 293 times for Lancashire, winning the County Championship in 1934, and scored 16,555 runs at an average of 41.45, one of only six batsmen to have averaged over 40 for the county. He played in twenty Test matches, scored 1,540 runs and averaged 59.23, a Test average beaten only by Herbert Sutcliffe. In all, he scored forty-five centuries, seven of which became double hundreds.
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