The White Flash

Published: 2003
Pages: 20
Author: Cavanagh, Roy
Publisher: Private
Rating: 3 stars

It is a source of some disappointment to me that the publication of this sort of monograph has never really caught on. The subject matter is the life and times of an interesting cricketer who, whilst enjoying some success, was ultimately not quite good enough. The subject of The White Flash, Colin Hilton, was one of the very few genuine quick bowlers Lancashire have ever produced.

Hilton was 20 when he made his First Class debut in the 1957 season. He was prone to being erratic, but was distinctly sharp. In 1962 he was at his best and, in a dreadful season for Lancashire, he took 94 wickets at 26.62, second only to the great Brian Statham in the Red Rose averages. There was talk of Hilton going to Australia in 1962/63, but he had knee surgery instead, and the recovery was slow and not without problems. As a result he played but a single match in 1963, and that was the end of his time at Lancashire. He then had a single season at Essex in 1964. The speed seems still to have been there, and his summer was by no means a total failure, but it was his last in the First Class game. At 26 it was back to club cricket in Lancashire for Hilton.

There are many men who, like Hilton, could never justify a full biography, or even a volume in the ACS ‘Lives in Cricket’ series, but who are of more than sufficient interest to justify this sort of modest record of their cricketing careers.

Author Cavanagh has made a few other contributions to cricket literature, all related to matters Lancastrian, and he doubtless knew Hilton well through his being secretary of the Bolton Association, and Hilton being President of his home town club, Atherton, one of the Association’s members.

Self-publication is a great deal easier now than it used to be, which is why I am disappointed we do not see more little booklets of this type. I am also a little surprised, not least because of Cavanagh having previously gone into print, that there are grammatical and spelling errors here, as well as typesetting that leaves something to be desired. Ordinarily I would have docked half a star for that, but on the credit side there are some excellent photographs, so I will leave it at 3 stars for a difficult to obtain, but not unduly costly book about one of the game’s nearly men.

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