Sunday, 12 June 2016

Donald Carr 1926-2016

The passing of legends is always sad to record and that of Donald Carr marks the end of an extraordinary cricketing life.

Carr progressed from being one of the finest schoolboy cricketers of his generation to county cricketer, before briefly becoming England captain on  his one tour to India in 1951-52. A long and successful career as a cricket administrator followed, before a retirement that was enjoyed with his close family.

His life and career were admirably documented by John Shawcroft in his biography of the player, but suffice to say that for Derbyshire fans of the 1950s, Donald Carr was always a pleasure to watch. As with most players brought up on reliable, public school wickets, he was happy to play his shots and was especially adept in front of the wicket and on the hook.

He was one of a number of former Repton boys to play for the county and took over the captaincy from Guy Willatt, when the latter retired prematurely. He led the side with good grace, charm and no little skill between 1955 and 1962, though contemporaries will cite an over-dependence on Les Jackson and Cliff Gladwin as a weakness, especially when he had Edwin Smith, Harold Rhodes and Derek Morgan in the attack.

He was a good enough bowler of slow left arm to take over 300 first class wickets himself and was one of the finest close fielders the county ever had. Carr held five hundred catches in his career at a rate of more than one a game, testimony to safe hands, good coordination and an attack that offered regular opportunities.

Above all he was an attacking batsman to be enjoyed and with Arnold Hamer carried the batting for a number of seasons. Nearly 20,000 runs at just under 29 are not figures to impress too many statisticians but, as with all players of the era, it should be remembered that uncovered wickets were no friend of the batsman playing for an average. It was generally reckoned that had Derbyshire had one more top class batsman - a May, Cowdrey or Graveney - they would probably have one at least one Championship in the 1950s. Carr scored over two thousand runs in 1959 and was one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year, but his availability decreased thereafter.

He was both captain and secretary until 1962, when he became a highly respected administrator. He became assistant secretary of the MCC (1962-74), and secretary of the Cricket Council and TCCB (1973-86). He was also a useful footballer, winning his Blue at Oxford and making two Amateur Cup final appearances with Pegasus. Meanwhile his son John played for Middlesex for a number of years and his brother Douglas was also long time Derbyshire secretary, following him into the post.

I never met him, but his contribution to Derbyshire and English cricket was considerable and will never be forgotten.

Rest in peace Donald Carr.

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