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Kent Cricket announce Legends’ Walkway results

Thursday 2nd June 2011

Kent County Cricket Club today announced the twelve legendary Kent cricketers who will be honoured in the Legends’ Walkway at the newly developed St Lawrence Ground. The final twelve have been selected through a public vote in conjunction with Kent Regional News and Media and selection by a committee of experts headed by Kent Cricket honorary curator, David Robertson.

It has been a closely fought contest; Kent Cricket has a rich history, and a phenomenal number of celebrated cricketers have passed through its ranks. However, a shortlist of forty has now been narrowed down to a final twelve.

The twelve cricket legends that will form the new Walkway have been confirmed as:

Leslie Ames, Colin Blythe, Colin Cowdrey, Godfrey Evans, Percy ‘Tich’ Freeman, Alan Knott, Brian Luckhurst, Alfred Mynn, John Shepherd, Derek Underwood, Frank Woolley and Douglas Wright.

Commenting on the final selection of twelve, David Robertson, the Club’s honorary curator and Chairman of the selection committee said, “The selected twelve legends represent the distinguished history of Kent cricket, spanning more than 150 years. Beginning with Alfred Mynn, the best known cricketer of the mid-nineteenth century, to Colin Blythe and Frank Woolley in the early seasons of the twentieth century when the County Championship pennant flew over Canterbury on four occasions. The period between the two World Wars then saw the emergence of Leslie Ames, Percy ‘Tich’ Freeman and Doug Wright, followed by the era of Colin Cowdrey, Alan Knott, Derek Underwood and others, who were the nucleus of the team that won eleven titles in what became known as the ‘Glory Years’.

There are others in the original list of forty who merit legendary status, but supporters and the panel were restricted to a choice of twelve. No current Kent player was eligible for the competition as it was decided that legendary status can only be acquired in retrospect. We are confident the final choice will receive the enthusiastic support of Kent cricket lovers everywhere”.

The Legends’ Walkway will be divided into 12 sections, in a central entranceway in the bottom tier of the new three tiered public square. Members and supporters can also be part of the new Legends’ Walkway by buying their own named brick, or perhaps buying one in memory of a loved one. A portion of the income generated from the bricks will go to Demelza, the Club’s official charity.

Click here for further details of how you can secure a permanent place in the Legends’ Walkway.

The twelve selected legends:

Leslie Ames (1926 – 1951)

Probably England’s best ever wicket-keeper batsman. Worth his place for his batting alone, and as good a keeper as any in his era. 78 centuries for Kent, nine double hundreds, eight Test centuries, 102 in all first-class cricket. 1121 dismissals. Equally at home with Freeman’s spin or Larwood’s pace. On giving up playing, one of the game’s greatest administrators.

Colin Blythe (1899 – 1914)

Finest left-arm spinner of his and probably any generation. Troubled the best batsmen even on the flattest wickets, frequently unplayable when the ball turned. 2210 wickets for Kent (av 16.67) 15 times thirteen or more wickets in a match. Five times nine in an innings. 622 wickets in Kent’s four pre-1914 Championship seasons. Killed near Passchendaele in 1917.

Colin Cowdrey (1950 – 1976)

One of the greatest English batsmen of the post-war era, only Lord Harris can match his record for Kent as a player; captain from 1957 to 1971 and administrator. 42,719 finest-class runs (av 42.89) 107 centuries, 58 for Kent. With off-field help from manager Les Ames, guided Kent from depths of the 1950s to Championship in 1970. Near infallible slip-fielder.

Godfrey Evans (1939 – 1967)

He sometimes needed the big occasion to bring out his best, but an inspirational wicketkeeper at a difficult time for Kent Cricket. Brought off catches, stumpings and stops beyond the capabilities of ordinary mortals. Adventurous batsman but could defend when it mattered. 1000 runs just once – to win a £100 bet! Fun-loving approach endeared him to spectators, especially the young.

Percy ‘Tich’ Freeman (1914 – 1936)

3776 first-class wickets with leg-spin, 3340 for Kent. Second only to Wilfred Rhodes as the game’s greatest wicket-taker; 128 times ten or more in a match, five times nine, three times ten in an innings. 100 wickets every season from 1920 to 1936, seven times over 200, including 304 in 1928. Took 44 percent of Kent’s wickets between 1925 and 1935.

Alan Knott (1964 – 1985)

One of cricket’s greatest wicket keeper batsmen, pivotal figure in the successes of the 1970s. Inspirational keeper, over 80 dismissals in three successive seasons, six times six in an innings, once nine in a match. 198 dismissals by the Knott/Underwood combination. As a batsman, virtuoso of the unorthodox, brilliant improviser against pace. No cricketer ever worked harder to keep himself in peak condition.

Brian Luckhurst (1958 – 1985)

Gave 50 years’ service to Kent as player, coach, administrator and president. As opener, reliability personified. 1000 runs every season from 1962 to 1975, 30 century opening partnerships. 96 for all wickets, 39 centuries included two double hundreds. Adapted his technique for limited-overs cricket and averaged over 40. Superb fielder anywhere – few players better liked by followers of Kent Cricket.

Alfred Mynn (1834 – 1859)

The best known cricketer in England; the Botham or Flintoff of his day. Tall, heavily built and immensely strong – the heart and soul of the immortal ‘Grand Old Kent XI’. A fast-bowler much feared by batsmen in the days before pads, gloves and ‘boxes’, a big hitting batsman and, with his huge hands, a formidable slip catcher. Single-wicket Champion of England.

John Shepherd (1966 – 1981)

The pre-eminent Kent all-rounder of the post-war period, whose commitment, cheerful, outgoing personality and capacity for hard work endeared him to Kent supporters. 13,103 runs and 1164 wickets in all competitions, 1417 runs and 110 wickets in 1970. Hit 52 and took 15-147 against Sussein 1975, bowling unchanged through both innings. Bowled over 4500 overs in five seasons.

Derek Underwood (1963 – 1987)

Unmatched post-war for control of the line and length; master of containment, grudging every run, always probing and virtually unplayable on rain affected or worn pitches. 1951 first-class wickets for Kent, 530 in limited-overs, 100 first-class wickets in debut season aged eighteen, twelve times 100 in all competitions. Three times nine wickets in an innings, 38 times ten in a match.

Frank Woolley (1906 – 1938)

47,868 runs, 1680 wickets and 773 catches for Kent are enough for immortality but it was through the power, ease and grace of his batting that he became a legend. Hard-bitten journalists quickly exhausted their stock of adjectives describing it, strong men grew misty-eyed at the remembrance. 1000 runs in 26 seasons, twelve times 2000, once 3000, eight times 100 wickets.

Douglas Wright (1932 – 1957)

A true original, nobody else bowled leg-breaks and googlies at such a pace and with such success. Although relatively expensive in Test cricket, the only post-1914 leg-spinner to seriously trouble the Australians and 1709 wickets for Kent at 22.68 testify to his value in county cricket. 100 wickets in nine seasons, three times for under 20 apiece. World record seven hat-tricks.