Paul Edwards recounts The Tale of Stanley Banham - part one
J.E.D. Sealy c Banham b Phillipson 4. It is, let me concede at once, not the most remarkable line in a cricket scorecard. Nor does it seem to be anything like the most interesting event of the game in which it took place. For that match, between Lancashire and the West Indians in July 1939, also featured: W. Place b Constantine 164 and G. A. Headley hit wkt b Ikin 32, both of them dismissals to transport the imagination back to the last summer before the German unpleasantness commenced.
But whereas one Lancashire debutant, Jack Ikin was to play 363 more first-class games after his outing against the tourists, another new boy, the 25-year-old wicketkeeper Stanley Banham, was to make no more. One match, one catch, did not bat and did not bowl. Thank you, Stanley, and good-night.
Banham is by no means alone. Keith Walmsley's excellent Brief Candles examines the brief careers of a very few of the nine thousand cricketers who have just a single first-class appearance to their name. Included in their number is the almost famous F. J. Hyland, who was the subject of Ronald Mason's lovely essay "Of the Late Frederick J. Hyland" in his 1967 book Sing All A Green WiIlow. Also given due consideration is Jos Coulthurst, a seam bowler from Blackburn who played in Lancashire's rain-wrecked final game of the 1919 season but did not even get on the field.
Even compared to some wicketkeepers, Banham's own match was incident-packed. Five glovemen have played a single game without batting or claiming a victim. That, in a way, is what makes Banham's sole success all the more wistful. One catch and that was it. Blink and you'd have missed it. And if Banham had blinked, he would have missed it.
I don't know anything like as much as I would like about Stanley Tattersall Banham. He was born in Sharneyford, Bacup on September 21st 1913 and died in Peterborough on the 29th December 1984. (Actually, Wisden's four-line obituary records him as passing away "at Peterborough", which suggests a degree of transience, as though the deceased had been waiting for a train. If it was a Northern Rail connection, some would argue that it explains things perfectly. Then again, the primrose brick did not even record Banham's passing until its 1987 edition. Clearly the sad news did not reach London for about two years. Again, perhaps they sent the letter from Cambridgeshire by Northern Rail...)
Banham played 13 Second XI games for Lancashire in 1938 and 1939. He was an understudy to Bill Farrimond (pictured above on the left - we don't have any pictures of Stanley Banham), who had, for many years, occupied the same role to George Duckworth before Lancashire's most illustrious wicketkeeper withdrew from regular first-class cricket in 1938. War plainly prevented Banham furthering his career, although he played a one-day game for the county against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in 1945.
There was, though, plenty of cricket for Banham to play once his Old Trafford days were done. In addition to making 158 Lancashire League appearances for Bacup, he opened the batting for C L Walcott's Commonwealth XI which took on Cumberland and Westmorland at Workington in 1951. The first five in the order were as follows: R. E. Marshall, S. T. Banham, F.M. M. Worrell, E. D. Weekes and C. L. Walcott himself. I hope you enjoyed that, Stan.
There is plenty more to find out about Stanley Banham, some of it, perhaps, at Bacup C.C. No doubt the newspaper libraries will help too. I hope I have time to investigate his life further. But even if I don't, one fact is incontrovertible. Nearly 73 years ago, Derek Sealy was his man. True, the line against his name in the Lancashire Yearbook may be almost completely blank; but at the end of that horizontal white space a single vertical black digit both commemorates and secures Banham's moment of glory when the ball thudded into his gauntlets.
(c) Lancashire CCC Ltd