Foxes Flashback - Paddy Clift
Paddy Clift (14th July 1953)
Paddy Clift first made an impact on the wider cricketing world, when on a chilly April day at Lord’s cricket ground, he bowled out a strong MCC team for 149, taking 8 wickets for 17 runs in 16.5 overs. This was his second match for Leicestershire and though he took another 580 for the county, this was by a distance his best performance.
He was not just a bowler, and though he only scored two centuries, his first took only 50 minutes, probably the fastest scored in first class cricket by a Leicestershire batsman. It’s a shame that this innings against Sussex in 1983 was in a rain ruined match against less than testing bowling, for he was a capable batsman. In his other century he shared a 5th wicket partnership of 165 with Nigel Briers against Essex.
He was ‘announced’ to Leicestershire supporters as Graham McKenzie’s replacement, so perhaps we expected a fast bowler. He was in fact a fine, accurate bowler at above medium pace, a batsman capable of scoring a thousand runs in a season and a good fielder with a safe pair of hands and a fast throw from the boundary.
His first tried to get a trial with Sussex, but when this was unsuccessful Brian Davison’s recommendation obtained for him a position with Leicestershire. He spent 1975 ‘qualifying’ (I am not sure why this was required) but he gained valuable experience playing with the successful 2nd team (they won the under 25 competition) and also for West Bromwich Dartmouth in the Birmingham League.
Until their Independence in 1980, he spent his winters in Rhodesia, before switching to Natal who he captained in 1984/85. There was certainly talk that because of the respect the other players had for him he should have been Leicestershire captain in the late 80s. Increasing injury problems meant that it never happened and he returned to South Africa for good in 1987.
His best year was 1983, when he scored 843 runs and took 83 wickets and won the Cricket Society’s ‘All rounder of the year’ award, and in his whole career he took 876 wickets and scored 8,395 runs.
In South Africa he worked for Barclays and set up a cricket coaching school. Then at the Middlesex match when Leicestershire won the championship in 1996, we learned of his death from bone marrow cancer. The joy of that match was tempered by memories of that fine cricketer and gentleman who had died so young.
Richard Holdridge - Club Historian