Alan Keith Walker
Alan Walker, who died in Sydney, New South Wales, on 18 June 2005, appeared in 49 first-class matches for Nottinghamshire between 1954 and 1958. A left-arm fast medium bowler and attacking lower order right hand batsman, Walker, who was born in Manly, New South Wales on 4 October 1925 joined his local Manly Cricket Club as a youngster and played in Sydney Grade Cricket.
He was educated at Sydney Grammar School. Before he appeared in first class cricket, Walker was capped for Australia as a rugby centre three-quarter. He toured Great Britain and France with the 1947/48 Australian squad and played in five Rugby Union Internationals between 1947 and 1950.
His debut for New South Wales, as a cricketer, came in 1948/49, literally bursting onto the cricket scene. Wisden commented:
‘A remarkable advance was made by the young New South Wales left-handed fast bowler, Alan Walker…Walker began the season by playing against Queensland in the Colts match in Brisbane and he went on to play in all seven Shield matches. He proved a worthy ally for Ray Lindwall by showing at various periods strong penetrative power, with good control of speed, length and swing.’
Amazingly, in this his first season of first-class cricket, he headed the first-class bowling averages with 38 wickets at 13.34.
Just as comparison, Lindwall averaged 19.25, Ian Johnson 21.17, Bruce Dooland 28.90, Keith Miller 22.44, Bill Johnston 27.64. These were the great bowlers who had demolished England in 1946/47 and again in 1948.
Walker was automatic choice for the Australian side to tour South Africa the following season for 1949/50. Australia trounced South Africa on that tour and although Walker took 25 wickets at an average of 20.24, he was kept out of the Test side by Lindwall, Miller and Johnston – it was a very unusual Test series because Australia had no injuries and played the same side in all five Tests, save one man, Noblet, in one Test.
Walker was seriously injured playing rugby in 1951, badly damaging his left shoulder. He missed the whole 1951/52 cricket season as a result and retired from top class rugby. Indeed he was unable to regain his regular place in the New South Wales team for 1952/53. In 1954 he came to England to play for Rawtenstall in the Lancashire League and captured 59 wickets at 13.38.
He signed for Notts, but had to qualify by residence and that season had only played against Pakistan at Trent Bridge. He made an impressive debut taking four of the six wickets that fell in Pakistan’s first innings and scoring 61 and 33 not out. His 61 came in 45 minutes.
In 1955, still awaiting to qualify in county cricket, Walker was pro for Norton in North Staff League. He played on first-class matches in 1955.
So Walker made his Notts debut in the first Championship game of 1956 and nearly caused at sensation. The opponents, Northants, required just 87 runs to win in the final innings – they had hit 380 for eight in their first knock. In the final innings, Walker took five for 35 and Northants were eight wickets down before they reached the target.
In the second game, at Lord’s he saved Notts from defeat, coming in at no. 8, after Notts had been set 244 in 210 minutes and collapsed to 97 for six. He made 59 not out.
Later in the summer, at Grace Road, he achieved what was at the time a unique feat of capturing the first three Leicester wickets in their second innings with the first three balls of that innings.
As Walker had finished off the first innings by taking the final wicket, he ended with four in four.
These incidents however could not hide the fact that Walker was not as successful as had been predicted; he took 35 wickets at 32.07 and hit 578 runs. He was to confess much later that his left shoulder never recovered properly from the 1951 rugby injury.
In 1958 he played in only three matches and his contract was terminated by mutual agreement. He returned to Australia, playing in a few Sydney Grade games for Manly, before retiring altogether.
Walker obtained a post in a financial company and finished as Chief Executive before retiring, mainly to play golf, in 1987 aged 61.
He did come back to England on holiday in the 1980s and he noted in a letter, ‘My visit revealed a very different country to the cone I knew in the fifties, I prefer the latter!’.