Lightcliffe chairman Bob Horne pays a personal tribute to the popular former Bradford League player Lewis Pickles who died on June 11 aged 88.
When I first played Bradford League cricket in the mid-1960s, a visit to Tofts Road, home of Pudsey St Lawrence, felt like taking part in a Test match. Then, as now, they were one of the best clubs in what we regarded as the best league in the country. I knew their opening bat, Lewis Pickles, by reputation; knew he was one of the league’s top players and that he had played for Somerset.
After leaving Somerset, where, as a capped player he had opened the batting with the legendary Bill Alley, Lewis was a professional with Forfarshire in Scotland for three years before coming back to Yorkshire and joining East Bierley, where he played until joining Pudsey. In 1969 he had a season at Liversedge in the Yorkshire Council.
In the winter of 1969/70 we were looking for an opening bat to replace Alan Warren. Chairman at the time, John Radcliffe, takes up the story:
"I remember the evening when Herbert Aspinall and I went to sign Lewis. We had committee authority to go to £4 per match and when he said to us that he would sign the agreement that Herbert had in his pocket for £4.10s.0d. [£4.50] per match we made an instant decision to get his signature. One of the best moves we made for Lightcliffe Cricket Club for the service which Lewis gave over many years."
Lewis stayed at Lightcliffe for the remainder of his career, playing his final game in 1985. He was the doyen of opening bats. His style and technique were flawless, and were matched by his quality as an off-spinner and a slip fielder.
He was an advocate of playing the ball as late as possible, against pace as well as spin, and all who saw him will remember what might be termed his signature stroke - an off-drive that curled along the ground to the boundary behind square. But he played most shots, and was particularly adept at pulling the short ball. He picked up pace and direction very quickly.
After retiring from the game Lewis kept up his membership of Lightcliffe and was a frequent visitor to Wakefield Road. It was always enjoyable to sit with him as he recalled his county days and the characters he played with and against. He rated Fred Trueman the best pace bowler he faced and Johnny Wardle, Jim Laker and Tony Lock the top spin bowlers.
It has been a great pleasure to have known Lewis for 50 years, to have played alongside him and to have shared many hours of cricket talk. RIP Lewis Pickles. A quality cricketer and a fine, quietly spoken gentleman.