Bob Borsley delves into the past and fashions a hope for the present.
Ken Barrington was not an elegant batsman. In fact he was a rather ugly one – or at least his stance was ugly. He also tended to score slowly, and in 1965 he was dropped after taking 435 minutes to score 137 against New Zealand. However, he was a very effective batsman, especially against Australia, and on occasion he could attack as well as anyone.
In the five series he played against Australia, his lowest average was 45.50 (in 1961), and he was very successful on his two tours to Australia, 1962-3 and 1965-6, averaging 72.75 and 66.28, respectively. In both series he scored centuries in the fourth and fifth Tests. In the fourth Test in 1962-3 he reached his century with a six, and he did the same thing in the fifth Test in 1965-6. (I had a distinct feeling of déjà vu as I followed the second series.) On the second occasion he reached his century from 122 balls. It was a bit like the batting of Bob Barber. I think I heard him reach his century on both occasions though at this distance I can't be sure.
Despite all the runs he scored against Australia Barrington was never in an Ashes-winning team. Let's hope none of the present England side suffer this fate.
From the pages of my library:
Barrington played his most aggressive Test innings; indeed he hit the fastest century of the series, for he needed only 122 balls for his first 102 inside two and a half hours. - Wisden 1967
[P]resently Barrington launched such an onslaught on the bowling that he went from 63 to 102 in the course of receiving 21 balls. He on-drove Stackpole for six in an over costing 12, hit nine of 11 to come from the leg-spinner's next, then helped himself to nine off Veivers. - John Clarke, With England in Australia
Barrington, now 115, fell to what I heard was a little collusion between wicket-keeper Grout and Walters. I can't vouch for the truth of this, but it is a good example of how luck can play a big part in cricket. Grout, so the story goes, instructed Walters to bowl the third ball of a certain over down the leg side in the hope of Barrington getting a nick. Doug, in fact, delivered the first ball on the leg-stump and Barrington did get an edge - so fine that the ball barely moved off line. Grout, who had expected the ball outside the off-stump, had to change direction, but as the ball came through with very little deviation he was in position to catch it. Perhaps if Walters had bowled it on the third delivery Wally may have over run the ball and missed the catch. - Ken Mackay, Quest for the Ashes
In the final Test of the 1965-6 Australian tour I played, I suppose, the greatest innings of my career: 115 at Melbourne. Judged in terms of adventurous stroke-play and speed of scoring it was a throw-back to my younger days in county cricket before I learned that caution was better insurance than bat-throwing. It brought me the Lawrence Trophy for the fastest Test-match hundred of 1966, inspired sensational newspaper headlines, remains the one knock I would love to have on film so that I could watch it over and over again in old age. Would it surprise you to know, then, that I played much of it in despair such as I have never known at the crease? - Ken Barrington, Playing It Straight
Barrington was tired and weary and ready to go home. He found it harder to concentrate at the wicket, and when the final Test began at Melbourne on 11 February he was in a thoroughly depressed state of mind, which wasn't helped by England losing two wickets for 41 after Smith won the toss... Barrington was in no mood to play a long innings, and when he joined Edrich he had what was for him the strange idea that England couldn't win, so what did it matter? For the first time in his career he was less than fully prepared mentally to play a long, fighting innings. The result was staggering: he proceeded to play the most sensational Test innings of his career. - Brian Scovell, Ken Barrington: A Tribute
[For links to the other posts in this series, see here.]