Tuesday, September 15, 2015

It was 40 years ago today: Chris Balderstone's double

Chris Balderstone was a member of Leicestershire's hugely successful cricket team of the 1970s and even played a couple of tests in 1976.

He was also a good footballer - one of the last men who played both games professionally.

And on 15 September 1975 he achieved what may be a unique double.

Balderstone was playing for Leicestershire at Queen's Park, Chesterfield, in a game where victory would give his county the championship for the first time in its history.

Leicestershire managed a narrow first innings lead, and the second day ended with Balderstone 51 not out in the second innings.

Trouble is, he has already agreed to play football for Doncaster Rovers at home that evening.

Abhishek Mukherjee tells the story:
Unfortunately for him, the match was due to start at Doncaster Rovers Football Club Ground at 7.30 PM. Though the match was played at Chesterfield, Balderstone did not get a chance to cherish the most famous production of the city: the sofa. 
Google Maps shows the distance between the two grounds as approximately 30 miles. It was not a quick commute on 1975 roads. But there was no stopping Balderstone. He got his car, drove straight to Doncaster, and took ground in time. There is not a lot of documentation about the match barring that it ended in a 1-1 draw, but by then Balderstone had already made an entry in the record books — one that does not seem to be emulated in near future. 
As per at least two authors (Paul Donnelly and Les Scott), Balderstone stretched things a bit too far that night. The football match got over at 9.10 PM, and Balderstone went on to play darts for Doncaster Rovers against a team from Doncaster Rovers supporters’ club.
Other sources suggest Balderstone took a taxi to Doncaster, but was it not in doubt is that he resumed his innings the next day and made a century. He then took three wickets as Derbyshire were bowled out to give Leicestershire the match and the title.

You can see the full scorecard on CricInfo.

Balderstone's Wikipedia entry tells us that he ended his professional career with Queen of the South:
"Queen of the South rang me up. Carlisle used to play practice matches against them and they remembered me. I caught the train to Dumfries from Leicester every Friday night. It was quite a trek but it gave me another couple of years football."
That train must have been the old Nottingham to Glasgow service that ran via the Settle & Carlisle.

It was with Carlisle in 1974 that Balderstone had his greatest hour in football, scoring a penalty against Pat Jennings and Spurs that put them top of the old First Division.

He later became an umpire, standing in two one-day internationals, and died in 2000.

1 comment:

crewegwyn said...

During his time with a Scottish club I once travelled south on the same train. I didn't recognise him, but two other passengers did. And asked the following question:

"Those West Indian bowlers. Were they, like, were they REALLY fast?"

His answer suggested that indeed they were ...