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Gentleman Ken was a truly fine all rounder

Gentleman Ken was a truly fine all rounder


In the first of a series of features looking at the outstanding all rounders who have won the Sir Learie Constantine Trophy, Reg Nelson takes a look at the career of the first winner, Ken Standring.

Ken Standring was the first recipient of the league’s Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy in 1963. He was widely recognised as one of the outstanding all rounders in the post war years, and his peak years ran through the sixties.

He was that rare breed of cricketer who opened the batting and bowling for his club side, and it was difficult to ascertain which of the two skills was stronger.

Born in Clitheroe in 1935, he appeared in 13 first-class matches for Lancashire as a left-handed batsman who bowled right arm fast. He scored 255 runs with a highest score of 41 and had a best bowling analysis of 4-61.

His first wicket in First class cricket taken in 1954 just happened to be the great Len Hutton, left. However, he was mainly a second team player at Lancashire, between the years 1954-1962. This was an era when county second teams had in effect eleven specialist reserves for the first team rather than raw academy lads, which is often the case today.

Standring would at times step in for fast bowler Brian Statham who would be playing Test cricket for England.

He was hired by Bingley in 1960 to be one of their pros, and his 12 seasons at the club would coincide with a great era for the Red Rose.

Standring was a dedicated pro who would guard his wicket with great care early on, and discipline himself to bowl a good line and length.

Very few cricketers were entrusted to open the batting and bowling for their club side like him, and his stamina would allow him to bowl 25 overs at times.

However, at the age of 25, he made an unimpressive start in 1960, scoring just 246 runs and not making the bowling averages, while his team finished third.

It wasn’t until the following season in 1961 did he make his mark, scoring 446 runs at 37.17, and taking 36 wickets at 13.76.

Brian Lymbery, who scored a career 13.739 league runs, joined Standring as his opening partner at Wagon Lane in 1962.

Writing in the Bradford Cricket League Centenary book of 2003, Lymbery listed him as amongst his ten best cricketers in the league. He said: “Standring was determined to be a winner, and he opened the batting and bowling for Bingley.

“In today’s market he would be a highly valued commodity. He played regularly for Lancashire Seconds, and it was claimed that the only reason he didn’t make the first team regularly was because of a rift between himself and England’s fast bowler Brian Statham.

“Off the field, Ken was a gentleman, while on it he was a completely different character. He was fiercely competitive and highly effective with bat and ball. He was a tall, stiff man who didn’t have great ability in the field but became a very good slip fielder.”

Lymbery concluded: “As a bowler he was extremely mean and hard to play against and with the bat he was hard to dislodge, I enjoyed batting with him because he was a great judge of a run. We would tap the ball three or four yards and scamper a single. In four years together we were only ever involved in one run out. On that occasion I recollect that Ken was dismissed attempting two to third man.”

BINGLEY 1960: Back, J C Rigg B Whittingham R Wood J K Harrison P G Gullen J Smith. Front: K B Standring J D Hay G Spencer (captain) M J Cowan J A Sanderson (003)

BINGLEY 1964 Back E Smith, P Wear, K B Standring, J R Bailey, A Torevell, T Copley. Front: M Lawton, J L Whitham, J K Harrison, B Lymbery, T Turner.

By 1963 Bingley were progressing nicely, and their runners-up position in the league was brought about in no small measure from Standring.

He won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy with a record of 765 runs at 51.00, and 38 wickets costing 13.05 each. His season’s best innings was an epic 140 not out. At 28, and now finished with Lancashire, he was at the zenith of his league career.

The next year in 1964 he topped the league batting averages with 745 runs at 43.82. Unfortunately, he was not awarded the league trophy because pros were excluded in those days.

Incredibly, despite Standring’s 500 runs, and 60 wickets at 10.31 in 1965, Bingley were relegated. They did make an immediate return the next year and also reached the semi-final of the Priestley Cup.

The tie was washed out at the weekend so consequently they had to play it in mid-week. On the Monday evening, Bingley were bowled out for 67, but Standring appeared to pull the tie back into his side’s favour by taking 5 wickets for 4 runs in six overs. However, Bradford got over the line in a dramatic finale when their last pair put in 18 runs to win by one wicket.

Bingley settled back into the First Division in 1967 in third place, and also won the Priestley Cup. In a 50-run defeat of Bradford in the final, Standring was key figure in a 108 runs second wicket stand with Jack Roe.

At the age of 32, Standring had at last secured major silverware for his team in his eighth season. This was the start of a glorious era at Wagon Lane, and he would play a crucial role.

Two years later in 1969, Bingley had their most momentous season in their history when they won the double of First Division champions and Priestley Cup winners.

Inevitably, Standring had a lot to do with it as he won the Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy for the second time with 542 runs to his name at 49.27, and also taking 37 wickets at a miserly 11.27 each. He also won the league batting averages for the second time.

However, there were other players making decisive contributions - the redoubtable leg spinner David Batty won several matches, while Yorkshire seamer John Waring often took out the early order in tandem with Standring.

Bingley lost the 1970 Priestley Cup final to Bradford but regained it the following year when they defeated Spen Victoria by nine-wickets in a one-sided contest.

Standring had another productive season in 1970 when he scored 685 runs and took 30 wickets. However, he wasn’t quite the same force and at 36 years of age he played his last season at Wagon Lane in 1971, still ensuring his club had value for money.

He scored 522 runs and took an impressive haul of 47 wickets at less than 12 per wicket. His individual achievements are impressive.

Sir Learie Constantine All Rounders Trophy: 1963, 1969
First Division Batting Averages: 1964, 1969

He also played in the title winning side of 1969, and took part in the following Priestley Cup Finals, enjoying three cup wins.

1967    Bingley 219-8  Bradford 169-9
1969    Spen Victoria 109 Bingley 111-1
1970    Bingley 44 Bradford 45-3
1971    Spen Victoria 119 Bingley 123-7

Opponents had a healthy respect for Standring whch is clear from the many tributes that have been lavished on the popular Lancastrian.

John France, a former long-standing League Board member, with a distinguished cricket career which partly coincided with Standring’s, wrote this in the Bradford Cricket League Centenary book of 2003.

“Standring was a very consistent all-rounder in the sixties. He was a dour Lancastrian who was extremely determined and a formidable opponent with bat and ball.

“He never wanted to give anything away with the ball and was hard to get at, very difficult to score off his fast medium bowling”.

Ray Peel was one of the most competitive cricketers that stepped foot on a Bradford League ground who was a wily off-spinner and a genuinely talented batsman. He was such a complete all-rounder he won the Sir Learie Constantine Trophy in 1972 and 1974. He often did battle with Standring, and he had this to say in November 2021.

“Ken Standring opened the batting and the bowling, what more can I say? Lots of respect and immaculate in the way he played cricket for Bingley. He was always a threat with either bat or ball and played with a good team- a true role model for Bradford League cricket”.

Allan Stansfield played as a batter in a very good Bradford side of the late sixties, and crossed swords with Standring a time or two. He developed into a fine seamer in the seventies with both Cleckheaton, and later at Drighlington. He had this to say about Standring.

“He was a gentleman and a superb opening bowler who would bowl 25 overs and then open the batting. He bowled swing and seam on a nagging length.

David Markham, the long serving Bradford & Bingley committee man, said: “I remember Ken Standring as a wonderfully consistent all rounder, often scoring 50 runs and taking five wickets in the same match, a model professional always giving value for money. A nice bloke, and a gentleman”

“He played for Lancashire seconds when he joined Bingley, travelling over the Pennines every Saturday. He was a particular friend and team-mate of David Batty and highly respected throughout the club.

“Away from cricket I think he became Education Director for Lancashire. In recent years he has been president of Southport & Birkdale CC.”

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