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Cricket: Phil Sharpe

Phil Sharpe (Shirley 1949-1955) was a schoolboy phenomenon in the 1950s, scoring runs like no one ever had before. He later played first class cricket for Yorkshire and represented England.
6 Jul 2020
Written by Simon Langley
Worksop College cricket XI 1955.
Worksop College cricket XI 1955.

Phillip Sharpe had a highly distinguished cricketing career with both England and Yorkshire and was voted as Wisden's cricketer of the year in 1966, however it was at Worksop where he started his cricketing career in 1949. Amazingly, during his first term playing cricket at Worksop the then headmaster Canon Maloney confidently stated that “this boy Sharpe will never make a cricketer, he is far too small” – indeed in the under 14 colts team photograph of the same year we can see his point, Phil was shorter than his peers despite the benefit of a couple of extra steps.

Happily this prediction was entirely incorrect and by the time Phil was in the upper VIth in 1955 he was scoring runs at quite unbelievable rates – even by today's standards his scoring was unheard of:

"P. J. Sharpe led the XI through a very successful season, in which 10 matches were won, 3 drawn, and 2 lost, and was himself one of the outstanding School cricketers of the year, scoring 1,251 runs at an average of over 113 and making seven centuries, which included two double centuries. His most notable performances were 240 v. Wrekin, 216 not out v. the Cryptics and 110 and 108 not out v. Old Worksopians. These achievements must certainly rank him with the great Public School cricketers of all time. He was chosen to play for the Rest v. the Southern Schools at Lord’s in August, making top score for the Rest in each innings, and was then selected to open the innings for the Public Schools v. the Combined Services at Lord’s, the first Worksopian to appear in either of these matches. His sound technique and fine stroke-play were the subject of much favourable comment in the London newspapers. During the following week he captained Yorkshire Youth Federation in a series of matches against other counties and gained further distinction by scoring 202 not out v. Nottinghamshire Youth".

Such was Phil Sharpe's reputation at the time, in A. De M. Beanland's book of the time (Worksop College 1895-1955) the sport section is introduced with the following:

“Vixere fortes ante Agamemona – or or in more modern phraseology – there were cricketers here before Sharpe!” As Phil once told me, this statement was entirely correct in that there were indeed cricketers at Worksop before him…but none were as good!

Phil Sharpe's obituary from The Telegraph can be found here.

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