Duncan Fearnley, bat-maker and Worcestershire legend, dies aged 83

Duncan Fearnley, the former Worcestershire player and administrator who went on to become one of cricket’s most sought-after bat manufacturers, has died at the age of 83.

Originally from Pudsey, Fearnley moved to Worcestershire in 1960 after beginning his career in Yorkshire Seconds, and went on to make 97 appearances as a left-handed batter across seven seasons, including 687 runs and four half-centuries in the club’s County Championship victory in 1964.

After departing the club in 1968, he returned in 1972 as the Second XI captain, by which stage his Worcester-based bat manufacturing business was thriving, with several of the greatest players of the era using his equipment, including Sunil Gavaskar, Ian Botham, Graham Gooch and Allan Border.

As the son of a woodwork teacher, and the grandson of a cabinet-maker, Fearnley had taken on an apprenticeship with batmakers Fred Clough and Les Ward in Bradford to supplement his winter income, and after launching his own range – Tudor Rose, which became Fearnley of Farsley – he opened his own shop in Worcester in 1968.

“I gathered some equipment together and that way I could make bats in the winter and play in the summer,” he once told The Cricketer. “By the time Worcestershire didn’t extend my contract, I knew if I got stuck in then there was no stopping me.”

In 1986, Fearnley was named Worcestershire chair, and oversaw a golden era for the club that included two County Championship titles, two Sunday League titles, the Refuge Assurance Cup, the Benson and Hedges Cup, and the NatWest Trophy over a period of just twelve years.

He also served as Club President from 2011 to 2013, and was subsequently elected as an Honorary Vice-President. In 2005, in collaboration with Mervyn King, the former Governor of the Bank of England and the broadcaster Mark Nicholas, he co-founded Chance to Shine, the cricket charity that has helped to reintroduce cricket to state schools in England and Wales.

“Duncan’s passing is a tremendous loss,” Paul Pridgeon, Worcestershire’s acting chair, said. “His contributions as a player, an administrator, and a passionate supporter of the club were immeasurable. He was the heart and soul of Worcestershire CCC, leaving an indelible mark on the club.

“His legacy as a bat-maker and his profound love for the club will always be remembered. Today, we have lost a true cricketing legend.”

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