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Slow left handers from Bedfordshire

Slow what? What on earth is this all about? The answer is cricket. Slow left hander (or slow left armer) denotes a bowler who bowls slowly using his left hand (or arm). As anyone who knows anything about cricket need not be told Bedfordshire is not a force in cricket generally - it is not a first class county and does not host test matches, for example. However, it has produced the odd test match cricketer. Strangely it seems to have specialised in the abovementioned slow left handers and in wicket keepers.

Geoff Millman, (1934-2005) who played first class cricket for Nottinghamshire was born in Bedford and kept wicket in six test matches for England in 1961 and 1962. The splendidly named Edmund Ferdinando Sutton Tylecote was born in Marston Moretaine, son of Rev.Thomas Tylecote, the parson in that parish for fifty years. He also kept wicket in six test matches, from 1882 to 1886. Less well known is the fact that the great Richard Pilling of Lancashire, England's wicket keeper in eight tests from 1881 to 1888 was born in Old Warden, though the family moved to Lancashire when he was still a baby.

Bedfordshire has also managed to produce an international opening batsman - Wayne Larkins, from Roxton, who played 13 tests for England between 1980 and 1991 and an opening bowler, Jack Durston from Clophill who played once for England in 1921.

It is the two test playing slow left handers that form an intriguing and contrasting pair, however. Followers of the game will be well aware of Mudhsuden ("Monty") Panesar. He is undoubtedly the best spinner England have had for many years (perhaps since Derek Underwood in the 1960s and 70s) - an attacking bowler who gives the ball a vigorous tweak and, in his approach to bowling, if not his action, recalls another great Sikh slow left hander, India's Bishan Bedi. He has so far taken 32 wickets for England in his 10 tests and heads off to Australia this winter to fight for the Ashes. Monty was born in Luton in 1982 and attended Stopsley High School and Bedford Modern.

If Monty is an England cricketer of Indian heritage by contrast, Bedfordshire's other slow left hander had an English heritage but, shock, horror, played for Australia! Thomas (Kingston) Kendall was born in Radwell, Felmersham in 1851. His parents were Henry Richard, a farmer and Harriet, ne Hine. Kendall died in Hobart, Tasmania a few days short of his 73rd birthday and had a certificate stating that he had lived in the Commonwealth for 70 years, indicating that the family emigrated before his third birthday. Interestingly his biographies refer to him as Thomas Kingston Kendall whereas his birth certificate names him simply as Thomas Kendall.

Kendall, like Monty, was quite quick for a slow left arm spinner (if that doesn't sound too much of a contradiction in terms). He only played eight first class matches (two of them test matches) in a career of six years. By contrast, Monty has already played in 49 first class matches. This is because, due to the vast distances involved and the small number of first class teams very few first class matches were played in Australia in the 1880s.

In all Kendall played once for Victoria, five times for Tasmania and twice for Australia. He is one of very few cricketers to have finished his test career before playing any other first class cricket! He played in the first two test matches ever played, in Australia in 1877, helping his adopted country to win the first ever test match, at Melbourne, by 45 runs, by taking 7 wickets for 55 runs in the second innings. He took a further eight wickets in the second test, in which England gained revenge, and never played for Australia again.

Kendall's test and first class figures are given below. His bowling average looks fantastic compared with Monty's but bear in mind that wickets at the time were generally pretty terrible with conditions usually greatly favouring the bowler. As Monty treads the same turf as that trodden by Kendall he might well wish for such similarly helpful conditions - spin bowlers have a much tougher time at international level these days!

Test match batting:

T.K.Kendall: 2 matches; 4 innings; 39 runs; average 13.00; highest score 17 not out

M.P.Panesar: 10 matches; 13 innings; 51 runs; average 10.20; highest score26

Test match bowling:

T.K.Kendall: 563 balls delivered; 14 wickets; average 15.35; best bowling 7/55;

M.P.Panesar: 2,408 balls delivered; 32 wickets; average 32.40; best bowling 5/72

Other first class batting:

T.K.Kendall: 6 matches; 11 innings; 102 runs; average 12.75; highest score 43;

M.P.Panesar: 39 matches; 49 innings; 253 runs; average 8.16; highest score 39 not out

Other first class bowling:

T.K.Kendall: 1,566 balls delivered; 26 wickets; average 17.35; best bowling 7/24

M.P.Panesar: 9,259 balls delivered; 153 wickets; average 28.70; best bowling 7/181