Brian Crump on taming Trueman, and why he wasn’t upset at missing England tour


Brian Crump has plenty of stories to tell after a cricketing journey which took him from Hanley High School to the brink of England recognition. He talks to CHRIS TRAVERS about his career and the highs and lows at Northamptonshire…

BRIAN Crump cut a lone figure on stage as his headmaster informed the rest of the pupils that he would no longer play sport for Hanley High School.

The 13-year-old’s ‘crime’ had been to shun representing Hanley in a school cricket match in favour of playing for Chell.

But the punishment turned out to be a minor inconvenience for Crump as he went on to embark on a cricket career which took him to Northamptonshire and the brink of playing for England.

“I started playing for Chell at a very early age. I was in the under-17 side when I was 10,” says Crump.  “I played a bit for the school against the likes of Newcastle and Wolstanton. Then one weekend I got picked to play for Chell seconds.

“There was a school match on the Saturday and I said to the headmaster, Mr Quinton, that I wouldn’t be playing because I was going to play for Chell.

“He said I had to play for the school, but I didn’t. On the Monday morning I was called up on stage in assembly.

“Mr Quinton said: ‘This boy has refused to play cricket for us. He will no longer play sport for the school.

“He kept his word because I never played football, cricket, anything, for them again after that.”

Crump – an all-rounder – didn’t need school matches to make his mark in the cricket world, though.

He only had to glance across the breakfast table to know he had the best tutor possible – his dad.

Stan Crump, pictured, was a high-quality cricketer and a firm fixture in the Staffordshire side. Indeed, when he left the minor counties scene, he was the fourth highest wicket-taker in Staffs’ history with his spin reaping 428 Championship victims.

“Dad lived for cricket. He was well-known in Staffordshire and well respected, not just for his playing career, but also the players he coached,” adds Crump.

Brian Crump’s dad, Stan, took more than 400 Championship wickets for Staffordshire.

“He was unlucky in a way because he was born at the wrong time. He definitely would have played county cricket in a different era.

“One year dad, Bert Shardlow and Fred Taylor finished first, second and third in the minor counties bowling averages.

“There were at least five players from that time who should have played professional cricket and were far better than some who have.

“Dad was the main bread winner at home and the money wasn’t there in first-class cricket. He worked as an engineer at Chatterley Whitfield in the pit and later on went to McIntyre’s in Burslem and then George Wade’s.

“Bert tried his luck later on in his career when he must have been 38 or 40. He had a trial at Somerset and they asked him how old he was. He said 32, just to try to get in.

“He didn’t get a contract… they must have checked his birth certificate.”

Crump followed his dad around the league scene from an early age as the cricket bug took a firm grip.

And even family holidays couldn’t get in the way of playing at the weekend.

“I cut my teeth on a cricket bat. It was one of the big things in the family. I started going to watch dad when he played in the Central Lancashire League from the age of two.

“When I played I didn’t miss a league game until I was about 60. I always went on holiday on a Saturday night and came back on a Friday so I could play cricket.

“Dad also used to run a Sunday side called Crusaders and they would go all over the country. We hired a bus and there would be 30 or 40 people having a day out. There used to be tears at the end of the season when it was all over because people loved it so much.

“People would ring dad up and ask if he was short of players because they were that desperate to be involved.”

Brian eventually shrugged off the tag of being ‘Stan Crump’s son’, but as he progressed from club cricket, his father was firmly by his side – literally.

When Brian made his Staffordshire debut in May 1955 against Cheshire at Neston, Stan was not only a proud dad, but also a team-mate, as he had been at both Sneyd and Leek.

Brian Crump scored five first-class centuries in his career.
Brian Crump scored five first-class centuries in his career.

The father and son batted together in Staffs’ first innings, putting on 44 for the sixth wicket in the drawn encounter.

“We turned up at the ground and it was white over, like snow,” recalls Crump. “It was freezing cold, so we all went back to the hotel to put our pyjamas on. We got back to the ground and they managed to get it fit for play around lunchtime.

“To play with your dad at that level was fantastic… unless you dropped a catch off him. I did one day at Longton.

“I was at mid-off and the ball was flat-batted to me. It hit me in the chest and fell to the ground. I had a big bruise, but dad just said: ‘You’ll be ok. You should have caught it’.”

Crump played 30 times for Staffordshire, but his time came to an end following the 1958 season.

His performances had alerted first-class counties as he pursued his dream of becoming a professional cricketer.

“Lancashire were interested. I didn’t know until I had been at Northants for about 10 years that Lancs had asked John Ikin about me,” says Crump.

“I’d been in the nets at Lilleshall with John, but he said to them that I wasn’t big enough, so his views put paid to that idea.

“Kent showed an interest and then Leicestershire came in and offered me a trial. I went to play against Northants at Northampton.

“I got five wickets and a 50 in the match and Leicestershire handed me a contract worth £8, 5 shillings a week.

“Northamptonshire must have been impressed because they said they wanted to offer me a deal as well, but also put me on a special registration.

“In those days if you signed for a county you had to wait three years to play first-class cricket, but each county could have one special registration player per year who could play straight away.

“They offered me £15 a week as well, so that’s why I ended up at Northants and within 18 months I was playing first-class cricket.”

Crump spent the 1959 season playing second-team cricket, but early on the following summer he was afforded his big chance.

Some eye-catching displays in the seconds earned him his first-team debut in a County Championship match against Gloucestershire.

A final-day 54 from Crump, plus an unbeaten 60 by Frank Tyson, helped Northamptonshire to earn a draw after they had been asked to follow on.

“When you play in the seconds it’s no good getting 40s or 50s, they are not interested in that,” insists Crump.

“You have to get big scores and I was lucky enough to get a couple of hundreds. That pushed me on.

“No-one told me I was going to make my first-team debut. Someone said: ‘Have you seen the team sheet in the dressing room?’. I went in and my name was on it. It was a great surprise.

“I was very nervous before my debut, but I was nervous before any game. I felt that if you weren’t nervous, then you didn’t care.”

Crump required nerves of steel in just his fifth first-class match against Yorkshire at Northampton’s County Ground in June 1960.

Set 287 to win, Crump emerged to bat with his side in trouble on 118-4 – and having to face a Yorkshire attack of Fred Trueman, Bob Platt, Ray Illingworth, Don Wilson, Jack Birkenshaw and Brian Close.

Crump had England international Raman Subba Row for company at the other end, but victory wasn’t in the pair’s thinking.

However, fast forward a few hours and the duo had completed a six-wicket win – Subba Row making 135 and Crump adding 67 not out.

Brian Crump managed to get the better of Fred Trueman in a County Championship match in 1960.
Brian Crump managed to get the better of Fred Trueman in a County Championship match in 1960.

There was the odd alarm along the way, though, before Crump sealed victory in the last over.

“We were in a bit of trouble when I went in. Subba Row was on about 40 and said: ‘Just stay put and we will try to bat out for a draw’. So I got stuck in and stayed with him,” recalled Crump.

“I had a couple of bits of good fortune. I played one ball around the corner to Fred Trueman at backward short leg and he claimed the catch. I started to walk off and the umpire called me back because he said the ball had bounced.

“We then started to get closer and closer and Subba Row said: ‘We can win this’. Then I was nearly run out. I was running towards the pavilion end, they hit the stumps and I thought I was out. I kept running towards the pavilion.

“But the umpire called me back and said it was not out because he couldn’t see if the wicket had been broken correctly. At this stage, Fred had fire coming out of his ears and Brian Close was as miserable as sin.

“We needed four to win off the last over. Fred bounced me with the first three balls and I ducked under them. I had stopped hooking because the year before I had been hit in the face by Derbyshire’s quick left-armer Bill Richardson in a second-team match.

“So I’ve ducked the deliveries from Fred and Subba Row came down the wicket and told me I had to take him on. Fred’s bowled another short ball, I went for it and hit the winning boundary through mid-wicket.

“I think Fred was surprised I had taken him on, but credit to him, he patted me on the shoulder and said: ‘Well played, lad’. Brian Close just moaned all the way back to the pavilion.”

Team success eluded Crump during his time at Northamptonshire. The closest he came to getting his hands on any silverware was in 1965 when Northants were pipped by Worcestershire to the County Championship title.

But personal achievements kept coming, most notably in the first Championship game played at Cardiff’s Sophia Gardens in 1967 when Crump and Ray Bailey made light work of Glamorgan.

Brian Crump pictured with daughter Julie, son Neil and wife Lynn.
Brian Crump pictured with daughter Julie, son Neil and wife Lynn.

The seam duo shared all 20 wickets to fall, and Northants didn’t even have to make a bowling change in the fixture.

“The wicket was new and a bit lively. It was seaming a lot,” explains Crump, who received his county cap in 1962.

“We put a decent total on the board, mainly because their quick bowler, Tony Cordle, saw it moving about and bowled too short.

“Myself and Ray bowled throughout both innings and took all of the wickets. I don’t think it’s been done since.”

Crump’s 7-29 in Glamorgan’s second dig completed the victory as he continued to firmly establish himself as a key team member.

However, five years later, he was left wondering what his next move would be when he found out his services were no longer required… at the end of his benefit year.

“When I was released it was a massive shock and they didn’t even tell me. I read it in the local newspaper,” recalls Crump.

“I was really surprised. I was 34, but a couple of months before I had opened the batting – which I didn’t really like doing – and scored 113 not out to help us to earn at draw against Derbyshire at Chesterfield.

“Then the next thing you know you’re removed. They had a strange policy at Northants that if you got to 34 they released you, regardless of how you had been performing.

“I didn’t get any offers from other counties. I would have liked to have carried on. I was an all-rounder and at the peak of my career I was more of a bowler than a batsman.

“I would bat at seven and bowl about 40 overs a day. Perhaps counties didn’t think I could do that at my age.”

Crump departed the first-class arena having played 321 Championship matches, which featured 8,789 runs –  and five centuries – as well as 814 wickets.

Crump’s record was enviable, but did he ever contemplate an international call?

“I never thought I should have played for England, but I did get on the availability list for the India tour in 1961,” he says.

“You received a letter from Lord’s asking if you could play. Now, I wasn’t particularly excited about possibly going to India because I don’t like curry and in those days I got an awful stomach if I ate anything out of order.

“But I had to say ‘yes’ I was available. On the Saturday we played Lancashire and the selection was the following day. Bob Barber was the Lancashire captain and I scored a hundred.

Brian Crump, kneeling behind the trophy, with his Staffordshire Over-50s team-mates after they won the County Championship.
Brian Crump, kneeling behind the trophy, with his Staffordshire Over-50s team-mates after they won the County Championship.

“The lads were saying afterwards: ‘You’ll be on the boat now to India. That’s you selected’. But I wasn’t picked. If the tour had been to the West Indies or South Africa I would have been more disappointed.

“I’ve been told I was close to playing for England. David Steele spoke to Ray Illingworth many years later and he said I was on the verge of going on an Ashes tour in the mid-60s.

“It was between me and Basil D’Oliveira for a place and they selected Basil instead.”

Crump returned to playing club cricket, with spells at Todmorden, Walkden and Egerton, as well as Caverswall, Little Stoke, Ashcombe and Moddershall closer to home. Strangely, Crump says he was never called on for Staffordshire duty after he exited the professional circuit… although he did eventually represent the county in the twilight of his career – and with great success.

“I was never asked to play for Staffs when I came back. In fact, the only time they called was towards the end of one season to go on the northern tour,” adds Crump.

“It involved taking a week off work and Bill Jolley called me and I said ‘no’, even though I was available. I asked him why I hadn’t been approached to play and he said it was because I was playing out of the area. Now they wanted me because they were struggling for a team.

“Eventually I played for Staffs Over-50s. I played from the age of 51 right through to 58 or 59 and captained the team.

“We won the Championship against Warwickshire. That was some of the most enjoyable cricket I played. It was a good standard and it was played in the right way – there was no sledging or anything.

“A couple of years before we won it we’d lost to Kent in the final. We got stuffed by the umpire. We ran a lad out and he was five yards short, but the umpire didn’t give him.

“He went on to get 30-odd to win the game. Vince Lindo was in tears afterwards because he knew we had been done.”

Brian Crump once dismissed Geoff Boycott three times in one weekend.
Brian Crump once dismissed Geoff Boycott three times in one weekend.

Brian, who lives in Kidsgrove with wife Lynn, has seen the Crump family name continue to be a regular fixture in cricket circles.

Daughter Julie played for England Women, while son Neil and grandson Austen play in the North Staffs and South Cheshire League.

Crump, now aged 82, also has a keen eye for a player. Despite the disappointment of being released by Northants, he ended up recommending Jason Brown and Rob Bailey to them.

And as he sits on the boundary watching the modern-day players go about their business, Crump’s thoughts still wander back to those glorious days he enjoyed in the 60s.

“There were some really good players. Geoff Boycott was probably the best I played against because when he got in he took some moving,” says Crump.

“Boycott was not the nicest person, but my great delight was dismissing him three times in one weekend. I got him twice in a Championship match at Harrogate on the Saturday and then in a one-day game at Bradford Park Avenue on the Sunday. But there were other greats like Edrich, Barrington, Cowdrey and Graveney.

“I wouldn’t swap playing in the 1960s for today. Ok, the money is better, but I thoroughly enjoyed the time I played.”





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