Walter Livsey (1893-1978) was one of many biggest wicket keepers of the Twenties. Nonetheless, he by no means performed for England. His profession was halted by warfare, blocked by Herbert Strudwick, annoyed by harm, and in the end curtailed by sickness.

In 320 first-class matches, Livsey claimed 648 dismissals. And extremely, on this ‘standing again’ age, 266 of them have been stumpings. Strudwick by comparability effected 258 stumpings, however he performed twice as many first-class video games as Livsey.

Distinctive promise

Born in Todmorden, Yorkshire, Livsey’s mother and father made the transfer to Surrey whereas he was nonetheless a child. The place, regardless of displaying early promise as a wicket keeper he discovered alternatives restricted by the presence of Strudwick. Due to this fact, in 1912 he was persuaded to make the transfer to Hampshire.

Whereas qualifying for his adopted county, Livsey performed a single match in opposition to Oxford in 1913. Within the College’s colossal 1st innings rating of 554, Livsey took 2 catches, stumped the highest scorer and allowed solely 3 byes.

In his first Championship match in 1914 he stumped Alan Shipman of Leicestershire, standing as much as the quick medium in-swing bowling of Arthur Jaques. In that very same summer time, based on Wisden, Livsey triggered ‘fairly a sensation’ by stumping Jack Hobbs off a sharply rising ball from Alec Kennedy which swung extensive outdoors leg stump. In whole in his debut season of 1914, Livsey dismissed 62 batters (39 caught and 23 stumped) together with 9 in a match in opposition to Warwickshire (4 caught and 5 stumped).

Wiry with immense nervous vitality and intensely fast, however stylishly easy in response and motion, Wisden noticed that Livsey ‘confirmed distinctive promise’. With the outbreak of warfare this promise was placed on maintain. Livsey spent most of his warfare service with the military in India and was not free to proceed his cricket profession until 1920.

Walter Livsey is pictured 6th from the proper together with his Hampshire group mates.

Strudwick’s successor?

In 1921 Livsey assisted in 80 wickets, 48 catches and 32 stumpings, greater than another wicket keeper within the nation. In 1922 he was chosen instead of Strudwick for each the Gamers vs Gentleman at Lord’s and the winter tour of South Africa. Nonetheless, dangerous luck intervened. Instantly after choice, he broke the index finger of his left hand, a fairly uncharacteristic accident for one who usually took the ball so cleanly, and whose arms have been virtually unmarked on the finish of his profession.

The fracture mended in time, however in solely the 6th recreation of the tour, the threerd finger of Livsey’s proper hand was fractured by a lifting ball whereas batting. He returned residence, lacking the foremost a part of the tour – together with all of the Checks. Regardless of being picked for 3 Check trials, twice on the England aspect, and 4 Gentleman vs Gamers matches, Livsey by no means go the chance to play a Check match, nor did he make one other tour.

Fantastic batting potential

Maybe Livsey’s title was handed over as he not often had the chance to excel with the bat, often coming in at quantity 10 or 11. Livsey, nonetheless was greater than succesful, in 1921 he joined Alec Bowell at 118/9 and collectively they placed on 192, nonetheless a membership report, as Livsey ended unbeaten on 70.

In 1922, Livsey was the last word hero of Hampshire’s most well-known victory, a victory as an entire that Wisden acknowledged to be ‘with out precedent in first-class cricket’.

Bowled out for simply 15 and following on 208 behind in opposition to Warwickshire, when Livsey got here in at quantity 10, Hampshire have been solely 66 forward. Livsey proceeded to share stands of 177 with George Brown and 70 with Stuart Boyes as he remained undefeated on 110 and Hampshire cruised to probably the most unlikely of victories by 155 runs.

Though Livsey had not made double figures in any of his earlier 7 innings, the efficiency at Warwickshire demonstrated his means to carry out beneath stress. Regardless of repeatedly batting on the backside of the order, Livsey scored practically 5000 first-class runs with 2 centuries at a median of 15. Strudwick by no means scored a first-class hundred and averaged simply 7.93 in Checks and 10.88 in all first-class cricket. Duckworth, who made his England debut in 1924, averaged 14.62 in 24 Checks and 14.59 in first-class cricket, however he by no means scored greater than 75.

Livsey was undoubtedly a sufferer of the eccentricity of his captain, Lionel Tennyson. As Harold Day, the England Rugby worldwide who performed with Livsey at Hampshire after the warfare defined:

“I admired him [Livsey] tremendously each as a person and a cricketer. In my view he was desperately unfortunate to not be chosen for a Check. There was no higher keeper and Lionel, together with his maddening perversity, would by no means recognise Walter’s fantastic batting potential.”

The intense butler

Livsey was not solely Tennyson’s wicket keeper, he was additionally his butler. He would lay out his garments, run his baths and on quite a lot of events lend him cash for pavilion card video games. The stresses of wicket maintaining, along with maintaining with Tennyson’s frenetic way of life, usually left Livsey completely exhausted.

Livsey took his cricket significantly, and he even gnawed at his batting glove anxiously earlier than each supply he acquired. In the meantime, a part of his velocity as a wicketkeeper was right down to his sheer nervous vitality.

On the finish of 1929, regardless of nonetheless being on the prime of his recreation, Livsey’s well being deteriorated and he by no means performed first-class cricket once more. He did, nonetheless, do nice work instructing in faculties and returned as an umpire leaving a permanent story of his relationship with Tennyson.

Batting in a charity match, Tennyson was clearly dismissed and it fell to Livsey to present him his marching orders. Reluctant to boost his finger in response to the raucous attraction, Livsey conveyed a message that Tennyson had all the time requested him to present to unwelcome guests: “His Lordship just isn’t in, I remorse to say”.

Walter Livsey, the best wicket-keeper England by no means had, died in 1978 – the final survivor of Hampshire’s nice group of the Twenties that included Tennyson, Mead, Kennedy, Brown and Newman.

Robert Meakings


Author: Londonlad

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