Tuesday, 18 May 2010
The great Yorkshire and England cricketer Hedley Verity was born on this day in 1905. An unusually pacey left-arm spinner (around Derek Underwood speed), he could be devastatingly effective, and his 10 for 10 against Notts in 1932 still stands as the cheapest 10-wicket haul in first-class cricket (and he wasn't helped towards it by the bowler at the other end, George Macaulay). In 1939, Verity bowled the last ball in county cricket before it was suspended entirely for the war - with it he took the last wicket of a 7 for 9 haul against Sussex (and finished top of the first-class bowling averages). During the war, Verity served with the Green Howards, and was a Captain by the time his regiment joined in the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943. He was mortally wounded during the advance on Calabria when his company came under heavy fire in a cornfield at night. Wounded in the chest, as he urged his men forward to the relative safety of a farmhouse, he was last seen lying in front of the blazing corn, his batman supporting his head. 'So,' to quote his Wisden obituary, 'in the last grim game, Verity showed, as he was so sure to do, that rare courage which both calculates and inspires.' He died soon afterwards in a military hospital. It is said that as he lay dying, he remarked, 'I think I have played my last innings for Yorkshire'. He was just 38 years old.