Cumberland & Westmorland Herald
Saturday, 20 September 1975
PENRITH “MR. CONSISTENCY” BOWS OUT
Send-off for David Ash today
It is significant that three former captains of Penrith Cricket Club’s first team, as well as the current skipper, are to turn out at Tynefield Park today in a farewell match to honour David Ash.
“Ashie”, in a record eight years as match-professional, has done more than help to win championships and cups; he has, by his influence and scrupulous personal standards, assisted in keeping the club’s prestige at a high level.
Mention the names of David Ash on any North Lancashire League ground and the reaction is, unfailingly, one of admiration for his skills as a cricketer, qualities as a sportsman and the consistency of his performances.
The various arts of cricket are too often different to compare, but the art of the slow left-arm bowler is rare and difficult, as well as absorbing.
Devotees will preserve for many years the memory of Ash’s frightening accuracy and his smooth perfection of style.
Penrith players first had cause to take note of him when, in his early twenties, he appeared for Yorkshire “seconds” in the Minor Counties competition against Cumberland. Indeed, his first “victim” was Peter Sarjeant – later to skipper the side which, with Ash as pro., brought North Lancashire League honours to Tynefield Park for the first time.
Another memory of his Yorkshire days is of J. M. S. Burrow, still playing for Penrith, who in his 50th year took 53 off an attack which included the young left-armer!
Consistency of performance – he topped the second team’s batting averages, scoring 500 runs – earning him his chances in the Yorkshire first eleven alongside men like Boycott, Close, Illingworth, Hampshire, Sharpe, Truman and Richard Hutton.
Not many Penrith followers are aware that he could have joined Middlesex, where he went for trials as a 22-year-old. Instead, however, he opted for a job as a match-professional, going first to Lancaster, in the Northern League, and then being preferred to another former county player by the committee at Penrith in 1968.
For the record, the new professional’s first wicket in the North Lancashire League was that of Vickerstown’s Ernie Ottley. In eight seasons his total of League and Higson Cup “victims” has soared to over 500 – and at an average of just over ten runs per wicket!
He will be remembered best as a bowler, though he has batted consistently, generally scoring over 400 runs per season and his many catches at leg slip have provided memorable moments as he flung himself across the turf, invariably pocketing the ball with such rapidity that the batsmen could be forgiven for wondering just where it had gone!
Just one of many stories of Ash’s bowling: Against Carlisle he had toiled fruitlessly for 23 overs with his spinners. Then, with the city side apparently poised for a narrow win, he turned the tables in two remarkable overs which produced five wickets and transformed bowling figures of 0 for 49 into a match-winning 5 for 53.
The fact that no fewer than 649 of his 2,176 overs have been “maidens” pays ample tribute to his accuracy – one “maiden” per 3½ overs has been instrumental in securing countless wickets at the other end as frustrated batsmen attempt to push the score along.
However, Ash’s contribution to Penrith and to cricket in Cumbria generally transcends mere facts and figures. He has proved himself a professional to the finger-tips, pressurising the opposition, “lifting” his own side by enthusiastic example, prompting alertness and concentration in the field and encouraging younger, less experienced players in the team.
Major achievements during his era at Tynefield started in his initial season with Penrith when they shared N.L.L. championship honours with Haverigg, with Sarjeant, then skipper, taking eight wickets in a vital last match at Whitehaven.
A year later, with Mike Cross now captain, Penrith seemed poised to win the championship outright. But this time they lost the final game, against the spin of Workington’s Ken McCourt, and the title was shared by the two teams.
That was Penrith’s last League success but interest has been sustained among supporters by the fact that they have always been among the challengers, twice ending as runners-up and never finishing lower than fourth in the League chart.
And twice in the 1970’s the Tynefielders have won the Cumberland County Club’s Meageen Cup. In one notable final, at Millom, Ash grabbed five wickets in the space of eighteen balls on a drying wicket to shatter the hopes of a home side who, at that stage, had seemingly been heading for a convincing victory.
Always in the headlines
“Everygreen” Ash .…”Furness crumble to Ash”….”Penrith’s Mr. Consistency”….
He has kept his club and himself in the local sporting headlines, though many will remember him for his likeable and social qualities of the field.
Today, as he makes a last bow at Tynefield in a special benefit-cum-farewell match, David Ash has joined the club’s most venerated cricketers. His team-mates and opponents will hope that the sun shines brightly on this occasion – and on his future career with Rochdale in the Central Lancashire League.
J. L. Hurst