Wednesday, 15 July 2015
That those bowlers were Mick Allen, once talked of in England terms, and Bob Berry, who played for his country, suggests that he had talent. The problem was that Derbyshire wickets rarely justified the selection of two spinners and Edwin, the younger by two months, was a better batsman and fielder.
Carter's other problem was that the club couldn't decide if he was a better option as a left-arm spinner or as a seamer, with the result that he fell somewhat between the two stools. The club hadn't the money to run a second team with an extensive fixture list and where Carter ultimately struggled was in a lack of exposure to cricket at a higher level.
Edwin had made his Derbyshire debut in 1951, at the age of 17, but in 1953 there was a genuine tussle for the role of senior spinner, if such a term is apposite for two players of just nineteen years. Edwin held the position for most of the summer, but the seaming wickets meant he seldom had opportunity as Cliff Gladwin and Les Jackson carried all before them.
Late in the summer, Carter was given an opportunity and did well, taking twelve wickets at just sixteen each in only 88 overs. This included the fine return of 7-46 against Somerset at Chesterfield, when he bowled the side to victory.
It is indicative of the demanded standards however, that his then captain, Guy Willatt, suggested he could be a good bowler if he bowled more accurately, this despite conceding less than three runs an over.
Thereafter the battle became more one-sided, as Edwin Smith 'kicked on ' and became the county's lead spinner for nearly twenty summers, while Carter, frustrated at a lack of opportunity, left the staff and drifted out of the game. He played his last match for the club in 1955.
The two men were good friends and worked together in the nets, trying out new grips and working on their skills. They shared a last wicket stand of 65 against the Pakistan tourists in 1954, helping Derbyshire avoid the follow on, although Carter had no real talent with the bat.
In a career of just seventeen matches, Carter took thirty wickets at 25 runs each. He could be proud of that and let no one down.
Rest in Peace, Reg.
Photograph shows Reg inspecting the grip of Edwin Smith in a rare photograph taken from the latter's collection.