Meetings > North East and Durham Branch
Michael Gauntlett reports:
Richard Jefferson - 'The Last of the Great Amateurs'
Strong wind coupled with heavy showers sadly reduced the attendance for what turned out to be a most interesting evening's talk. The speaker, Richard Ingleby Jefferson, advised listeners that he was one of the last amateurs - or Gentlemen, as they were known - to play English First-Class cricket.
The Advisory County Cricket Committee met in November 1962 and 'decided by a clear majority to abolish amateur and professional status and call all players cricketers'. This was passed to the M.C.C. Committee for approval, which was gained and came into effect in 1963.
Richard said that he was one of very few amateurs registered and playing in 1962. His county was Surrey and the other amateur at the Oval that season was Peter May.
The Jefferson family had Yorkshire connections, for Richard's father, Julian, was born in Ripon and played for Army (1919) and Combined Services (1922). Richard was born at Frimley in Surrey and educated at Winchester College. He recalled being coached by Harry Altham and Hubert Doggart. Included amongst his contemporaries was “Tiger” Nawab of Pataudi who subsequently captained
India and Sussex.
Richard secured a place at Cambridge University in 1961 - despite only obtaining one 'A' level. His ability as a middle order right-hand batsman and right-arm fast/medium bowler - plus his height (6ft 7ins), enabled him to gain a 'blue'. He played for the University in 14 matches that summer, finishing 8th in the batting averages and top of the bowling - with 44 wickets @ 28.29. As a Freshman, he and his partner Tony Pearson soon emerged as the best new-ball pair, displaying stamina and accuracy above the ordinary. Against Leicestershire, at Fenner's, he bowled 28 consecutive overs and took five of six second innings' wickets at a personal cost of 53 runs; Jefferson was also an effective hard-hitting later-order batsman; he had the distinction of being top-scorer with 54 in his side's disappointing first innings against Oxford in the Varsity match.
Unfortunately, Richard only lasted a year at University, being sent down having failed his exams.
He was at a loss to know what to do - for being an amateur - he had no firm connection with Surrey.
He did, however, have a good friendship with Ted Dexter who had retained connection with Cambridge and was captain of Sussex in 1961. Richard read out a letter from Dexter inviting him to come and join in at Hove. However, because he was born in Surrey and following injuries to their current new-ball bowlers, Loader and Gibson, Surrey also approached Richard, requesting that he play for them in the next week. Not, therefore, being registered elsewhere, he had no alternative but to accept the Surrey request.
He found himself at the Oval on August 5th about to play in his first County Championship match v. Nottinghamshire. As an amateur he shared a dressing room with his new captain, P. B. H. May. Richard could hardly believe his good fortune as Peter May had always been, for him in boyhood, a hero. The rest of the Surrey team changed elsewhere. Being an amateur, Richard was able to claim 6d. per mile for petrol and £1 per day for kit cleaning. On the field, Surrey were indebted to him for some steady bowling in his first appearance for the county. Ken Barrington hit 163 and 95 to assist a win for Surrey by 134 runs. After the game, Peter May requested that Richard be prepared to play for the rest of the season.
Richard played in four matches for Surrey up to the end of the 1961 season. During the winter following, he joined F.R.Brown's XI on a tour to Kenya, Uganda and Tanganyika. The team included Bill Alley, Roy Marshall, Peter Loader, Don Sheherd, Peter Walker, Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, John Mortimore and Bob Gale. Matches were played on matting wickets and were not considered First-class.
And so to the 1962 season - the last for amateurs. Richard played in 20 First-class matches for Surrey, sharing opening bowling with Loader, Sydenham and Gibson. He recalled a number of frequent visitors to the Amateurs' dressing room including Lord Tedder, Boris Karloff and Ian Peebles. However, the outstanding memory for him was seeing Peter May hit a brilliant 119 against Pakistan which Richard then followed with 58 - his highest score that season.
The final Gentlemen v. Players game was held at Scarborough as part of the Festival, on September 8/10/11. Richard read out a letter received from T. N. Pearce concerning the travel arrangements and hotel booking. He recalls staying at The Grand Hotel and going off each evening to drink and dance at the Balmoral (apparently known by his fellow team members as "The Immoral").
Both he and William Richardson made 68 in achieving 130 for the 9th wicket of the Gentlemens' first innings and Richard returned 4/104 in the Players' reply. The latter won the game by 7 wickets.
His other memory was of trying to concentrate on his bowling when the band was playing a tune "Gents in a Gay Mood".
With an audience largely senior aged, Richard's talk was well received and applauded.