Star of Suffolk county cricket side dies

PETER Henry Jones, who played a key role for Suffolk when they won the Minor Counties cricket championship in 1977 and 1979, has died at the age of 72 after battling against cancer.

By Tony Garnett

PETER Henry Jones, who played a key role for Suffolk when they won the Minor Counties cricket championship in 1977 and 1979, has died at the age of 72 after battling against cancer.

He was a solid left-handed batsman and orthodox left-arm spinner. He succeeded Bobby Cunnell as county captain although his naturally cautious approach was in marked contrast to the cavalier style that had brought the county success.

He made his debut for Suffolk in 1971 after his work brought him to the area. He became a member of Ipswich & East Suffolk Cricket Club.

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He played in 97 matches for Suffolk scoring 3,853 runs with a top score of 95 against Hertfordshire at Letchworth in a match-winning partnership with Cunnell on a wearing wicket. He was the ninth-highest run scorer in Suffolk cricket history behind Simon Clements, Phil Caley, Tony Warrington, Roger Howlett, Bob Cunnell, Ian Prior, Brian Belle and Derek Randall.

Jones took 267 wickets at an average of 22.18. Suffolk's all-time leading wicket-taker is the legendary Cyril Perkins, currently county president, who took 779 wickets. Colin Rutterford took 431, W Penfold 375, F Trudgett 276 and John Hargreaves ended his Suffolk career level with Jones on 267. Penfold and Trudgett played more than 100 years ago.

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Cunnell recalls: “Peter could bowl well in all sorts of conditions. He was a master of containment and I would call on him to break up a partnership if a match was running away from us. Much of our success was brought about by having three good spinners in the team and Peter's role was very important.”

Howlett added: “He was a class act - a top all-rounder - and was also one of life's gentlemen.”

Born in Woolwich, Jones made his debut for Kent at the age of 18 and in his early years with the county played in the same second team as Dick Mayes, another past Suffolk star, and Ted Witherden who amassed plenty of runs for Norfolk.

The month of June 1961 saw Jones at his peak. When the Australian tourists came to Canterbury Jones claimed the scalps of Bill Lawry, Alan Davidson and Wally Grout. He bowled 42 overs, 14 of which were maidens, and ended with figures of three for 96.

It was a drawn match in which Colin Cowdrey scored a century in each innings. Jones batted at No. 6 and scored 29 not out in the first innings and went out to bat in the second innings with Kent needing 13 to win off the final over which proved beyond them.

The following week he went out to bat against Nottinghamshire at Tunbridge Wells with the Kent score at 57 for three. Jones had a partnership of 212 with Stuart Leary, the South African who also played football for Charlton Athletic. Jones scored 137 and was awarded his county cap.

In that season's Kent round-up in Wisden it was reported: “Jones, a much improved left-arm bowler, provided the bulk of the spin with support from Dixon, Leary and Baker.”

In the mid-seventies he moved to Wolverhampton where he played cricket in the Birmingham League for Kidderminster.

He also played for Duport, Barnt Green and in recent times has been chairman of Wolverhampton Cricket Club.

He leaves a wife, Jean, two daughters and four grandchildren.

The funeral will take place on Wednesday, January 16, at Christ's Church, Tettenhall Wood, Wolverhampton, starting at 1pm.

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