‘Tubby’ edges towards a different kind of century
If you happen to bump into Leroy “Tubby” Richardson today, be sure to wish him a happy birthday.
The former St George's spinner and captain, the oldest surviving Cup Match player, has turned 97 to inch closer to a century of a different sort.
Richardson made his Cup Match debut at Royal Naval Field in 1941 and marked the occasion by taking a sharp return catch off his own bowling to dismiss star Somerset batsman Alma “Champ” Hunt.
“Champ Hunt was at his best at the time and Tubby was brought on to bowl against him and got his wicket,” Dennis Wainwright, the former St George's wicketkeeper-batsman, recalled.
In a previous interview with this newspaper Richardson described claiming the prized scalp of Hunt as “one of proudest moments of my Cup Match career”.
“Cup Match is no fun game, it is for real,” he said. “And if you can't take it, you have to stay out of the game.
“No matter what the situation is you have to learn how to give it your all and fight, otherwise forget it. That's what I learnt about Cup Match.”
Another proud moment for Richardson was when he captained St George's to victory over a Somerset team led by Lloyd Simmons at Wellington Oval in 1951, claiming nine wickets for 56 runs to lead by example.
“When Tubby was included in the Cup Match team one of the main reasons was for his bowling,” Wainwright, who holds the record for the most dismissals (37) in Cup Match, added.
“His bowling was the main thing and he learnt to bowl the googly before he realised he was bowling it. I think it was one of the Darrell brothers who pointed that out to him.
“Tubby always had a ball and was always trying different things with his fingers, spinning the ball and making it do different things.”
Richardson went on to captain St George's for another three years before being succeeded by Carlton Welch in 1955, the same year he retired from Cup Match.
He played his last competitive cricket match in 1989 at the age of 68, leading Royal Artillery Association to victory over the Ex-Artillery Association at Devonshire Recreation Club.
Wainwright described Richardson as a gentleman both inside and beyond the boundary ropes.
“One thing I do appreciate about him is he's always held the gentlemen's standard in his demeanour and living,” Wainwright said.
“He is what I call a cricketer and as I always say there's a difference between a cricketer and a cricket player.
“A cricketer is a gentleman on and off the field and he's a true cricketer.
“He also takes a great pride in the uniform of the St George's Cricket Club. Whenever he's invited to any cricketing function he always comes dressed and that is something that is lost today, even from the leaders of the club. He has always been an outstanding figure at St George's Cricket Club besides being the oldest living member.”
Richardson became the oldest surviving Cup Match player after Woodgate Simmons, his Somerset rival and close friend, died two years ago aged 96.