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Dennis Bateson was a man for all seasons

Dennis Bateson was a man for all seasons

Reg Nelson continues his series on the league's finest all rounders with a look at the career of Dennis Bateson who is statistically the best of the lot.

When one talks about the great all rounders in the league, one cannot fail to mention Dennis Bateson who is the only man to have topped 10,000 runs and taken 1,000 wickets in the history of the league.

In the beginnings he was a specialist batter and part-time medium pacer who struggled to make the averages. He developed his slingy low projection action to great effect to become probably the best all-rounder in the league at the time.

Bateson possessed a tunnel vision to succeed and was obsessed in giving value to every side he played for. He rarely played with a smile on his face - such was his gritty determination to succeed.

His career incredibly spanned the years 1942-1979 as he amassed 12,676 runs at 25.41 and took 1,139 wickets for a miserly 14.11.

It is difficult to obtain early records of his performances per season, but he was part of a Yeadon side in the 1940s that won three Priestley Cups.

The three wins in 1945, 1947 and 1949 put Yeadon on the map, with Bateson contributing 90 runs in the second final triumph against Salts in a record score of 365.

He joined Saltaire in 1951 and he quickly became a model of consistency, scoring 893 league runs in 1952.

By 1955 he had become something of a star, scoring 599 runs, and finishing second in the league bowling averages with 46 wickets at 10 runs apiece. To epitomise what a committed cricketer he was, he also won the league fielding award for 1955.

Throughout the fifties he never dropped his standards, and it must have been a source of frustration to him that he could not propel Saltaire into the First Division.

His top batting aggregate was 800 runs in 1959 in an era with very few covered wickets. He peaked as a bowler between 1961-64 taking hauls of 61, 55, 66 and 66 wickets, and winning the league bowling averages in 1961 when he also had the incredible analysis of 6-1 in one match.

Saltaire 1963  Back D Smith, K Robinson, J Whitham, K Stretton, B Evans, S Platt. Front A Exley, G Dean, D Bateson (capt), B Wood, D Robinson

Saltaire 1965: Back J Young, D Bateson, P Francis, K Turley, D Taylor, S Wood. Front I Robinson, D Robinson, J A Sanderson (captain), G Clapham, B Evans.

Amazingly he was the recipient of the league’s Learie Constantine All Rounder Trophy on only one occasion and that was in 1964. He scored a total of 424 league runs at an average of 32.61 and took 66 wickets at 13.82.

At last, Saltaire were promoted when in 1962 they finished second after Bateson had taken 55 wickets at 11.96. However, their stay in the top flight was short-lived and on relegation in 1965 he decided to join East Bierley.

East Bierley 1966: Back- M Daisey, R Blundell, D Bateson, C Wood, P Stott, S Longbottom. Front B Evans, A B Cawthray, D Field (capt), E Slingsby, A Wilcock.

East Bierley 1967: Back- A Armitage, D Bateson, M Lawson, R Blundell, B Daisey. M Collins. Front B Lymbery, R Hutchinson, J A Phillips (capt), M Allitt, E Slingsby. 

Windhill 1968: Back- E Rollinson, D Andrews, K Halliday, J Tempest, G Firth, J Whitaker, Front- A Firth, E Gartland, D Bateson (Capt), W Evans, A Brassington 

He performed modestly during his two seasons at South View Road and was not his usual prolific self when he moved to Windhill where he skippered the side.

He returned to Yeadon in 1969 and ensured they would finish an impressive fourth in an era of many re-election pleas for the club. His steady, but consistent showing of 353 runs at 27.26, and 33 wickets, was just what the doctor ordered at Yeadon High Street.

He would be more productive in 1970 with 595 runs for an average of 42.50 with a top score of 70not out, and he took 37 wickets at 14.08.

His batting success became spasmodic after scoring 440 runs in 1971, but his bowling was just as potent, despite being at the veteran stage, as he enjoyed league wicket season hauls of 52, 67, 71, 40 and 54 up to 1978.

Yeadon 1975: Back  K Robertson, P Robertson, A King, A Moorhouse, W Cousins, P Murden. Front S Ellis, A Hill, D Bateson (captain), C Grunwell, I Robertson.

Yeadon Stalwart Les Wood had this to say about Bateson: "Dennis was a great cricketer and a lovely man. I can remember both playing with him and against him. As a batter he never sold his wicket cheaply, then as a bowler he gave you absolutely nothing.

 “I found him a very focused player and at times quite dour. I kept wicket to him one season and every ball was round your ankles. He had an almost square arm action which ensured that almost every ball was low and not easy to score off

“His record showed that he was a very fine player, and although some in the team thought him a very selfish team man, I got on fine with him.

“I can recollect a game we played against Queensbury at Yeadon when I was batting with Dennis who was facing this particular over from spin bowler Alan Blundell who always had something to say. We took six twos off him, and he was going purple with rage - good days.”

Writing in the Bradford Cricket League Centenary Book of 2003, distinguished former cricketers were asked to name their ten most rated cricketers, and Bateson was in two contributions.

John France wrote: “When I look at all-rounders who have graced the league there are a number who have made a huge impression. Statistically, they do not come much better than Dennis Bateson who had an outstanding career with Yeadon and Saltaire. He was a fine cricketer.

“As a bowler he was what I would call, a mix and match bowler. He would bowl seam and later spin in the same match with his effective low arm action. The beauty of his batting was its simplicity; he would go in at number four or five and play very straight and he later seized his opportunities to gather runs.”

The late Brian Redfearn was one of Bateson’s captains at Yeadon. He wrote: “When I was skipper at Yeadon, I had the good fortune to play with one of the finest all-rounders the Bradford League has ever produced - Dennis Bateson.

“He was a consistent run scorer and a prolific wicket taker, and I think at his best he could have played county cricket. He was also a smashing person, a real gentleman.

“I can remember one Saturday when both Dennis and I were invited to a wedding of one of our colleagues, Tony Mortimer. We had a couple of drinks at the reception, and I kept reminding Dennis we had to get to the game.

“When we finally arrived at the ground Yeadon were 15 for four. Dennis quickly strapped his pads on and went out to make an unbeaten 86.”

France and Redfearn were well respected in the Bradford Cricket League, and they obviously knew a good cricketer when they saw one.

One could see that Bateson spent the overwhelming part of his career in the second division, so in consequence his feats could be put in perspective.

However, he could certainly mix it at the top when taking part in three winning Priestley Cup finals in his early days.

It was an era when quality cricketers often stayed loyal to their second division clubs and rebuffed the overtures from the big clubs. Bateson obviously had a great affinity to Saltaire and Yeadon, and doubtless sacrificed many years in the top flight.

In conclusion it is true to say that he could have played with distinction and pro’d at any Bradford Cricket League club during his career.

 

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