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Kenneth Frank Barrington (24 November 1930 – 14 March 1981), generally known as Ken or Kenny, was an English cricketer who played for the English Test team and Surrey County Cricket Club. His Test batting average of 58.67 is the best by an England batsman except Herbert Sutcliffe and Eddie Paynter, and considerably more than any England batsmen since Len Hutton retired in 1955 . Strangely, he is not as well recognised as other post-war batsmen, perhaps due to his slow scoring, his making most of his Test runs overseas and his early death. He was a right-handed batsman and an occasional leg break bowler. He was born in Reading, Berkshiremarker on 24 November 1930 and died of a heart attack on 14 March 1981, Needham's Point, Bridgetown, St Michael, Barbadosmarker, when the England Assistant Tour Manager.

Domestic career

Barrington began his first class career with Surrey in 1947 as a leg spin bowler, but worked on his batting after his National Service in 1951 and soon became a powerful strokemaker. He never lost his ability as a spinner, and it made him very effective against spin bowling, especially that of Richie Benaud. His Surreymarker team mate Jim Laker wrote "His concentration was such that when facing slow bowlers, he would actually watch the ball spinning in the air and play it accordingly" . He made his First Class debut in 1953 and played for England in 1955. He scored 1,000 runs in a season twelve times and reached 2,000 runs three times. He made seventy six first-class centuries, his highest score 256, which he made in a Test match against Australia at Old Traffordmarker in 1964 after they had made 656-8, a monument to his application and intense concentration. He made a total of 31,714 first-class runs at an average of 45.63. He also took 273 first class wickets at an average of 32.61. He retired from first-class cricket in 1968 due to health problems.

International career

Barrington's Test career began in 1955 when he made 0, 34 and 18 vs South Africa, after which he was dropped for four years. He was a free-scoring off-side player, but determined to regain his place he changed his stance and became a defensive leg-side player. Recalled after England lost the Ashes in 1958–59, he became the backbone of the England team, whose batting had proved so fragile to the Australian bowling. Barrington proved to be a match-saver rather than a match-winner, always best in a crisis. However, the selectors, press and public thought that he surrendered the initiative too much to the bowlers and he was once dropped after making a seven and a half hour 137 against New Zealand, but a batsman of his calibre could not be ignored and he was soon back in the team. This lack of appreciation may have been affected by the fact that he scored most of his centuries overseas and that he could play entertaining strokes, but chose not to do so. Even so he made four of his Test hundreds made with a pull for six and made a thumping 115 in the 5th Test at Melbourne in 1965-66, the hundred coming off 122 balls. His determination and grit on the field, and good natured humour off it, won him the admiration of many Australians. Ian Chappell wrote "Every so often you encounter a player whose bat seem about a yard wide. It's not, of course. It just seems that way. England's Ken Barrington was one...Gee, they were hard to dislodge" . He played 82 matches and scored 6,806 runs at an average of 58.67, which was notably better than his overall first-class average, and his average in 23 Tests against Australia was better still, at 63.96. He ended his test career when he had thrombosis in Australia in 1968, even though he had several potentially fruitful years ahead of him.

Test Centuries

Ken Barrington made 20 Test centuries, two short of the England record held by Wally Hammond and later equalled by Colin Cowdrey and Geoffrey Boycott. He made hundreds against all the Test teams of his era, but less than a third in England which partially accounts for his greater reputation abroad than at home. Barrington's granite-like centuries ensured that England only lost one Test in which he made one, but also won 8, belaying his reputation as a match-saver rather than a match-winner, and most of them by huge margins; four by an innings, one by 256 runs and three by 10, 9, and 8 wickets.

Ken Barrington's 20 Test Centuries
No. Century Test Opponents Season Venue City Country Result
1 120 First Test 1959-60 Kensington Ovalmarker Bridgetownmarker Match Drawn
2 121 Second Test 1959-60 Queen's Park Ovalmarker Port of Spainmarker win by 256 runs
3 139 First Test 1961-62 Gaddafi Stadiummarker Lahoremarker win by 5 wickets
4 151* First Test 1961-62 Brabourne Stadiummarker Bombaymarker Match Drawn
5 172 Second Test 1961-62 Modi Stadium Kanpurmarker Match Drawn
6 113* Third Test 1961-62 Feroz Shah Kotlamarker Delhimarker Match Drawn
7 132* Fourth Test 1962-63 Adelaide Ovalmarker Adelaidemarker Match Drawn
8 101 Fifth Test 1962-63 Sydney Cricket Groundmarker Sydneymarker Match Drawn
9 126 First Test 1962-63 Eden Parkmarker Aucklandmarker win by an innings and 215 runs
10 256 Fourth Test 1964 Old Trafford Cricket Groundmarker Manchestermarker Match Drawn
11 148* First Test 1964-65 Sahara Stadiummarker Durbanmarker win by an innings and 104 runs
12 121 Second Test 1964-65 New Wanders Stadiummarker Johannesburgmarker Match Drawn
13 137 First Test 1965 Edgbaston Cricket Groundmarker Birminghammarker win by 9 wickets
14 163 Third Test 1965 Headingley Stadiummarker Leedsmarker win by an innings and 187 runs
15 102 Fourth Test 1965-66 Adelaide Ovalmarker Adelaidemarker win by an innings and 9 runs
16 115 Fifth Test 1965-66 Melbourne Cricket Groundmarker Melbournemarker Match Drawn
17 148 First Test 1967 Lord's Cricket Groundmarker Londonmarker Match Drawn
18 109* Second Test 1967 Trent Bridge Cricket Groundmarker Nottinghammarker win by 10 wickets
19 142 Third Test 1967 Kennington Ovalmarker Londonmarker win by 8 wickets
20 143 First Test 1967-68 Queen's Park Ovalmarker Port of Spainmarker Match Drawn


Later career

Ken Barrington's career performance graph.
After the end of his playing career Ken Barrington became a Test selector and a manager of Englishmarker touring teams. He died suddenly of a heart attack during England's tour to the West Indiesmarker in 1980-81. Graham Gooch told Nick Greenslade of the Observer "I had watched Ken Barrington - a great Test batsman - as a boy and when I broke into the England side in the late Seventies he became a father figure. In fact, he was a mentor to a lot of us then - myself, David Gower, Ian Botham, Mike Gatting. Ken was an England selector and assistant manager on the West Indies tour of 1981. There were no official coach in those days but it was to Ken that most of us turned. Unlike many retired pros, he never used the words, 'In my day...' On the first night of the Test, he suffered a heart attack in our hotel. I was woken the next morning at around 8am by tour manager Alan Smith and captain Ian Botham. I knew something was wrong, because Both was never up before then. They told me the news. I had tears in my eyes when we went out on to the pitch for the minute's silence and again when I was batting in the second innings. We needed over 500 to win and it soon became apparent that we weren't going to get them. But I kept thinking of him and managed to make a hundred. Kenny was a counsellor, a friend and an inspiration."

Career honours

  • Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1960
  • Walter Lawrence Trophy 1966
  • The Ken Barrington Indoor Cricket Centre at The Ovalmarker was named in his honour.


References

  1. Peter Arnold, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of World Cricket, WHSMith 1985
  2. Jim Laker, The Lord's Taverner's Fifty Greatest, Heineman-Quitote, 1983
  3. p 23, John Arlott's 100 Greatest Batsmen, MacDonald Queen Anne Press, 1986
  4. Ian Chappell, Austin Robertson and Paul Rigby, Ian Chappelli Has the Last Laugh, Lansdowne Press, 1980
  5. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2007/jan/07/cricket.features


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