Black History Month: Larry Worrell

Hampshire Cricket – courtesy of Club Historian Dave Allen – is marking Black History Month this October by celebrating and honouring the contributions of some of the best players to ever represent the Club

Lawrence Roosevelt 'LARRY' WORRELL (1969-1972)
Born 28 August 1943, St Thomas Barbados

Right Handed Batter, Right Arm Off-Break Bowler

32 First-Class Matches
Batting: 289 runs, average 11.56, One half-century
Highest Score 50 v Kent at Canterbury 1971
Bowling: 65 wickets, average 32.55, One five-for
Best Bowling Innings 5-67 v Leicestershire at Southampton 1971
Catches: 21

In the late 1970s there were three Black footballers playing for West Bromwich Albion FC, Cyrille Regis (born French Guiana), Brendan Batson (Grenada) and Lawrie Cunningham (London) who were nicknamed ‘The Three Degrees’ by manager Ron Atkinson. This was a period of considerable racial unpleasantness on the pitch and the terraces in the winter game and there was a view that this talented trio playing in a successful side helped to combat it.

There was less overt unpleasantness in county cricket although there were occasional incidents reported, particularly from 1969’s start in the Sunday afternoon League which attracted large crowds some of whom rather liked the opening of the bars at a time when the Licensing Laws required pubs to shut.

As we have seen, Hampshire signed West Indian cricketers on a regular basis from the 1950s and in 1972 fielded a very interesting side in a Championship match against Derbyshire at Basingstoke – Roy Marshall was there but so too four Black West Indians, Gordon Greenidge, Danny Livingstone, John Holder and off-spinner Larry Worrell. If, five years later, the footballers were the ‘Three Degrees’ surely Hampshire were fielding ‘The Four Tops’? The game was fairly even but spoiled by rain on the last day, when Marshall (47) and Livingstone (65*) ensured a draw. In the first innings Worrell (37) and Holder shared a useful 9th wicket partnership of 48.

Larry Worrell was a couple of weeks short of his 26th birthday in 1969 when he made his first-class debut for Hampshire against the New Zealand tourists in another rain-ruined match at Southampton. Larry, a cousin of the legendary West Indian captain Sir Frank Worrell, was born in St Peter’s, Barbados but had been in the UK for some time and it appears he might have come to join the Army. We know for certain that he played regularly for the Royal Corps of Signals in matches against other Regiments then in 1968 he began playing representative matches for the Army’s full side, including a match at Aldershot in 1968 against a Hampshire 2nd XI side and another in 1969 just before his Hampshire debut. In that year he was playing for Dorset in the Minor Counties Championship and also made his debut for Hampshire in the 2nd XI Championship.

He played for the 2nd XI throughout the 1970 season but after that one first-class match he had to wait until the start of the 1971 season and a match against Oxford University, then against the Pakistan tourists at Portsmouth and eventually a Championship debut at Trent Bridge on 22 May 1971. When he began playing for Hampshire the county were looking for a spin-bowling to succeed the men of the 1960s of whom Mervyn Burden, Alan Wassell and Keith Wheatley had gone, Alan Castell had converted to medium-pace and Peter Sainsbury was in his mid-30s and would retire in 1975.

Larry Worrell left the Army and for a few years pursued a career in professional cricket. In 1971 He played regularly and continued to do so during the first half of the following season, but his last game came at the start of July 1972. In that time he took 65 wickets for Hampshire at 32.55, with a best of 5-67 v Leicestershire at Southampton in 1971, when he took 52 wickets. In the same year, he scored his one half-century, 50, against Kent at Canterbury. He played in one limited-overs match but did not bowl.

It was a brief and ultimately unsuccessful career although he continued to play for the 2nd XI through 1973 when David O’Sullivan, a slow-left-armer from New Zealand helped to bowl Hampshire to the Championship. When Hampshire’s 1974 season began, both Worrell and O’Sullivan had departed.

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