Suffolk cricket star Prior dies aged 77

IAN Prior, who spent 35 years on the teaching staff at Ipswich School, captained Suffolk at cricket and became a leading Rugby Union official, has died at the age of 77.

By Tony Garnett

IAN Prior, who spent 35 years on the teaching staff at Ipswich School, captained Suffolk at cricket and became a leading Rugby Union official, has died at the age of 77.

He arrived at Ipswich School in 1956 when headmaster Pat Mermagen wanted someone to run the First XI cricket. Prior formed a highly successful partnership with groundsman-coach Cyril Perkins.

He taught English, Latin and mathematics and in 1962 started a 15-year spell as housemaster of Sherrington House at Highwood.


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He became senior master in September 1980, a post he held until his retirement in 1991 after which he spent the summer months with his wife Marion in the south of France.

Educated at Colchester Royal Grammar School, he played cricket for Colchester & East Essex Cricket Club and Essex second team before moving to Suffolk.

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He was an aggressive opening bat whose favourite shot was the hook. He was also a brilliant wicket-keeper who took 148 catches for Suffolk (two in the outfield) and made 40 stumpings.

He represented the Minor Counties against the West Indies (Wes Hall era) at Norwich, against Pakistan at Swindon and against the Australians at Torquay.

He played 81 matches for Suffolk, scoring 4,841 runs at an average of 34.57.

His highest score was 136 against Norfolk at Lakenham in 1958.

He was also involved in a record second-wicket stand of 239 with Dick Mayes against Buckinghamshire at Ipswich School in 1962.

He retired from Minor Counties cricket in 1968 but continued to play club cricket for Old Ipswichians.

In 1975 I persuaded him, with some difficulty, to make a one-off county come-back to help Suffolk win the inaugural NCA inter-county cup final against Shropshire at Nuneaton.

He rated former Ipswich Town football star Ted Phillips, a fast bowler for Colchester & East Essex and Suffolk, among the best bowlers with whom he played.

Phillips recalls: “He was the Colchester & East Essex stumper when I joined the club. He sometimes stood up to me and I wasn't used to that. He was also a really good batsman.”

Prior was a Rugby Union full-back for Ipswich and Suffolk until injury took its toll.

Then he became a highly-respected referee who served eight years on the committee of the Eastern Counties Rugby Union.

He leaves widow Marion, daughter Jaki and son Mark as well as grandchild Elodie.

There will be a service of thanksgiving in Ipswich School chapel on Wednesday at 2.30pm.

Donations for Macmillan Cancer Support can be made to Farthing, Singleton and Hastings, 650 Woodbridge Road, Ipswich IP4 4PW.

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