Foxes Flashback - Gerry Lester
Gerry Lester (born 27 December 1915)
Gerry Lester spent over thirty years playing and coaching for Leicestershire, and then in the 1980s returned for another spell on the club’s committee.
He was playing for Long Whatton in the North Leicestershire League when he was recruited to the ‘Nursery’ of young cricketers the county established in the 1930s to develop young talent. He made his debut in 1937, with bowling considered to be his stronger discipline.
In all he played 373 matches for Leicestershire, scoring 12,857 runs, with 9 centuries and taking 307 wickets with his leg break bowling. In five seasons he scored more than 1000 runs, and frustratingly he missed that target by 3 runs in 1956, and by just a single in 1957.
His best season was 1949 when he scored 1,599 runs and took 38 wickets. He was generally a stubborn opening batsman, whose top score was 143 against Surrey at The Oval in 1955. He was at the crease when Maurice Hallam scored his maiden century. As he had been out for 98 twice previously, and it was his 182nd first class innings, Maurice was understandably nervous. Gerry walked down the wicket and told him if he didn’t get a hundred now, he would ‘knock his block off’ (or words to that effect). Maurice reflected he was so scared by the prospect that scoring the two runs became no problem.
Between 1958 and 1966 he was second XI captain and coach, and in all played 181 games for that team, more I suspect than anyone else in the club’s history.
In 1966 Leicestershire needed to rationalise their playing staff to minimal levels and Gerry lost his position. For several years the club operated with a skeleton staff and a minimal second XI programme using trialists, students, the club secretary and the Vicar of Holy Apostles to make up numbers.
He was co-opted to serve on the club’s general committee in 1980 and did so for eight years until his old opening partner, Maurice Hallam took over his place.
Richard Holdridge - Club Historian