Brian Statham was a modest man from a modest background who was a truly great fast bowler. Brian Statham, one of England’s great fast bowlers was 69 at the time of his death and had been suffering from Leukemia. With Yorkshire’s Fred Trueman he formed one of Test cricket’s most impressive new-ball pairings. Statham’s relentless accuracy was the perfect foil for the more flamboyant Trueman.
Freddy Trueman Said:
After hearing of Statham’s passing, I knew him for 50 years, and we never had a wrong word. There was a minute’s silence at Old Trafford before the National Sunday League game between Lancashire and Worcestershire after it was announced that Statham has passed away peacefully at his home.
This is indeed sad news, as he was ill in February but kept his promise to keep the news quiet. I telephoned two weeks ago before his death, and he was not very well, and I was intending to ring back today. Trueman said in a low voice. I want to sit back on my own for a little while and reminisce about the great days. The great days included a total of 449 Test wickets between them. A figure few of today’s Test bowlers could match even though they play far more games.
Brian Statham nicknamed “Gentleman George” because of his modest demeanors and chivalrous approach used his bouncer sparingly, content to take wickets without any macho posturing. His passing offers a stark contrast to the disgraced figure of Hansie Cronje, whose reputation is being ripped apart in South Africa. Brian had the same opinion as me. Neither of us was surprised about what is happening anymore.
He was a top-class man and I have some great memories and stories which I will keep with me forever. Statham was a beautiful bowler and an absolutely superb player. He was my friend and roommate for so many years. We traveled together, shared bedrooms together, and talked about everything. In 50 years we never had a wrong word and for me and everyone connected with the game at that time, this is terrible news.
Statham’s two benefits in 1961 and 1969 netted a total of 15,000 pounds, but he did not make a fortune from the game and in 1989 Trueman discovered that Statham was in financial trouble and organized two testimonial dinners for him. The less volatile of the famous Trueman-Statham pairing of the 1950s England team, Brian Statham was a magnificent fast-medium bowler of unfailing accuracy and genuine pace. Known by his teammates as “the Whippet” he bowled from a moderate run, with a rhythmic run-up and a smooth balanced delivery.
He aimed to bowl a steady off-stump line moving the ball in both directions using the seam and to a lesser extent through the air. He varied his pace well and had an effective Yorker. His off-cutter, bowled from wide of the crease, was particularly difficult to handle. Statham rarely bowled short, and his equable temperament allowed him to deal with disappointment without resorting to aggression.
He took great pains over his fitness and was rarely troubled by injury, despite often being asked to bowl against the wind or up-slope. Statham was a quite superb fielder in the outfield with a safe pair of hands, and a hard throw, and was fast over the ground. His occasionally contributed runs as a tailender he batted left-handed, with a first-class best of 62. Brian Statham debuted for England in 1950-51 after a successful first-class season with Lancashire and was a regular fixture in the England side for more than a decade.
He was forming partnerships with Frank Tyson, and later Fred Trueman forming in both cases an ideal foil to the more explosive partner at the other end. Statham played for Lancashire for 18 years captaining them between 1965 and 1967. His record for Lancashire was superb, usually too good for batsmen on the county circuit. In 1957 his 112 wickets cost him only 11 runs apiece. And he bettered this record in 1960 with 97 wickets in just mere 10 runs apiece.
Colin Cowdrey once wrote:
“But the strong man that he was, there was a delightful charm and caring sensitivity about his approach to life and to the surrounding people. He was one of the nicest cricketers I have been privileged to know an opinion shared by all who met him”.