Derek Shackleton: The Ageas Bowl Display

Published: 2023
Pages: 12
Author: Allen, Dave
Publisher: Hampshire Cricket Heritage
Rating: 3.5 stars

Born in Todmorden, a town that sits on the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire, Derek Shackleton holds the record as the leading First Class wicket taker of those whose careers began after the Second World War. It is a record he will doubtless hold in perpetuity, 2,857 scalps at 18.65 runs each.

Despite that record Shack’s name is rarely remembered today, his relatively modest record in his seven Test appearances doubtless being a contributing factor. But he has not been forgotten in Hampshire, his adopted county, for whom he took all but 188 of those wickets and who he served with unswerving loyalty between 1948 and 1970.

There has already been a biography of Shack, On The Spot by David Matthews, published way back in 1998 with the full co-operation of subject and family. In addition he has been the subject of two very collectable limited edition appreciations. Those were published in 1958 and 1967, respectively his benefit and testimonial years, and were written by John Arlott and JJ Warr respectively.

So cricket literature does have those studies of Shack, and now it has another one, rather longer than the Arlott and the Warr but, naturally, a long way short of a biography.

Those familiar with the Ageas Bowl will know that there is a bar in the pavilion named after Shack, who lived long enough to be a guest when it was opened. In 2021, some fourteen years after Shack’s passing, his family auctioned off some of his memorabilia and Hampshire Cricket Heritage were able to secure a number of the items, which are now on display in the bar.

So Shack’s story is interrupted occasionally by references to the items that were secured, a number of cricket balls, items of clothing and various other pieces of memorabilia all of which must be well worth visiting the bar to see, the only slight disappointment being they are not pictured in the booklet, though I dare say that may well have been a conscious decision.

But there are a couple of excellent photographs on the rear wrapper, taken during what was comfortably the most successful of Shack’s Tests, the famous match at Lord’s in 1963 when Colin Cowdrey, arm in plaster, came out to stand at the non-striker’s end as Gloucestershire off spinner David Allen held the West Indies attack at bay for the last over of the match.

As for the narrative itself as is only to be expected from a man as well acquainted with the history of Hampshire cricket as Dave Allen that is excellent, and certainly does his subject justice. The booklet is not a limited edition as such, but almost all of the copies printed have been sold. That said the author may yet have a few left and he can be contacted via email at davehccc@gmail.com or, failing that, a few copies are on their way to Roger Page in Melbourne

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