Thursday, 15 August 2013

Cricketers in Wartime - Ken Farnes

Apologies to any Aussies reading, but...

Oh, come on. What am I saying. After that painful two decades when the Aussies won everything? I'm not feeling at all sorry for them :D 3-0!

Ken Farnes was a fast bowler for Essex during the thirties, who also bowled for England, in the same side as our last wartime cricketer, Hedley Verity, in fact.

By all accounts, and somewhat unlike his contemporaries, he was built much more like the fast bowlers of today, tall and muscular. Unusually for the era, he was an amateur, at a time when quick bowling was largely the preserve of the professionals. He's probably, oddly, most famous for being reduced to tears during an Essex game against Yorkshire in which the Yorkshire pair of Sutcliffe and Leyland took him apart for 75 runs in four overs. You can hardly blame him.

With a Test average of under 30, and a first-class average of 21, he was a pretty decent bowler, and a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1939. He had an autobiography, Tours And Tests, published in 1940, shortly after which he signed up with the RAFVR and like many at the time, did his basic training in Canada. He was killed in a training accident shortly after returning to England.

Interestingly, as far as I can tell, Farnes and Verity were the only two England players killed in the armed forces in WW2. While Farnes' tragic death wasn't on active service, this does make him worth a mention.

Next up, though, we move on to English Test players who survived the war.

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