Malcolm Wilson, who died aged 74 on the last day of last month, was the last surviving ‘founding father’ of today’s Ilkeston Rutland Cricket Club.
Together with his elders, Jack Taylor and Frick Smit, Wilson turned Rutland from a team with a solitary XI into a thriving club with three adult sides and juniors at every level.
Malc, as he was universally known, was the club’s greatest ever wicket-taker, a fact made known because he was also the club’s greatest ever statistician, not that he would ever have boasted about any of his achievements.
He joined Rutland in 1961 at the age of 20 and bowled for the club’s fist XI in every season until 1995 when, having sent down 7,304 overs and taken 1,317 wickets, his hips gave way and his body could take no more.
Playing-wise he went out at the top - 1995 was the only year that Ilkeston Rutland have ever started the season as Derbyshire champions and that success owed a great deal to him.
It was he who had started off the club’s junior section in 1978 and it was the graduates of this – Martin Brandrick, Ian Banks and Richard Kelleher, who, now in their thirties, had helped take Rutland to the top.
Brandrick, who joined the juniors in 1978 and went on to captain the first XI in their pomp, recalls Malc’s ‘terrible cars’ of the late 1970s: “He favoured the classical look of the NSU and would pile half a team into it along with rather less kit than is now required,” he said.
A real gentleman, Malc was never one to voice criticism loudly and well suited to bringing through the talents of young cricketers.
Those that saw him bowl recall a windmilling approach to the wicket – arms flailing everywhere, followed by nagging accuracy and movement, sometimes exaggerated by a suspiciously raised seam.
Maidens were his stock in trade – he sent down 1,839 in his Rutland career, including 13 in a row in one ‘memorable’ afternoon at Ambergate in 1989.
It would have been many more were it not for his habit of following five dot balls with a playful leg-break or some other maverick delivery.
Brandrick recalled: “When I was captain, I’d be at mid-off and after five dot balls, I’d say, ‘Change nothing Malc’, but he’d never take any notice.”
We know so much about his cricketing career because Malc, an office worker at Stanton by day, chronicled the stats for every season from the late 1950s onwards.
In the days before the internet made scores easily accessible, he painstakingly transferred the details from the scorebooks to a typewriter to produce end of year statistics for every team involved at the club.
From this, we know that he achieved 50 or more wickets in a season on six occasions, a feat bettered only by Jack Taylor and Keith Mitchell who did it seven times.
His best return was 69 wickets in 1971, but for his most impressive season he had to wait until he was in his forties.
In 1983 he returned the remarkable bowling average of 8.83 having taken 37 wickets. His economy rate in that season was 1.93.
As the 1990s dawned, Malc, now into his fifties, was slowing down but he still bowled 89 overs for the club’s first XI in their championship winning year of 1994.
He also came on as a substitute fielder in a crunch match against Sawley and, cool as you like, held the winning catch at first slip off the young and distinctly quick Aussie Matt Cassar.
Catching was something of a speciality. “If you can reach it, you should catch it”, was a favourite saying, along with, “Just get your fingers round it and don’t let go”. He held onto 233 chances, mostly standing at gully and many off his own bowling.
It is fair to say that his career economy rate of 2.76 runs per over will never be beaten and the same may go for his 1,317 wickets, although Ian Banks, currently 1,068 not out, may yet do it.
Asked if anyone would surpass him, he said simply: “They’ll be knackered if they do.”
Malc was knackered by the time he stopped bowling but that didn’t stop him being the mainstay of the cricket club.
He continued to give huge amounts of his time - coaching juniors, becoming the 1st XI scorer as well as the club’s chief statistician and report writer for the Advertiser, positions he occupied until ill health intervened in 2011 – 50 years after it had all begun.
What followed for his wife Margaret, his family and close friends was the agony of watching Malc slowly succumbing to the cruel Alzheimer’s.
They ask that any donations in his name are made to Alzheimer’s Research.