One of the most satisfying features of last season’s cricket was the way Reginald Thomas Simpson, Nottinghamshire’s right-handed opening batsman, lived up to the expectations of those who have followed his progressive development. Born on February 27, 1920 in Sherwood, less than four miles from Trent Bridge, Simpson is a natural cricketer. He was never given any coaching, none of his relatives played cricket, but when he was quite young he was introduced to the game at Mountford House Preparatory School in Nottingham and immediately became very keen to do well. To do. Then he went to high school in Nottingham and was just 13 when he won a place in the first team. By the age of 15, while still at school, he had done enough to attract the attention of the County Club, and he appeared in a few games for Nottinghamshire Club and Ground. In his first season after leaving school, Simpson led the Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Border League batting averages with 56.60 runs per inning. Like so many other young cricketers including TE Bailey, RO Jenkins and B. Sutcliffe who also feature in this current feature of Widen, Simpson found the war an obstacle to his introduction to first-class cricket. At one time he was with a special branch of Nottinghamshire Constabulary, and in 1940 he gave local cricketers great pleasure by hitting 134 paces for the county against an RAF Xl at Trent Bridge. A dazzling stand with County captain GFH Heane achieved 213, and the people of Nottingham were firmly convinced that a new star had been discovered.
In 1941 Simpson enlisted as a pilot in the RAFVR, and two years later completed most of his pilot training in Arizona. He completed his training in England before traveling to India in August 1944. While in the Far East, Simpson flew over 1,000 hours as a pilot with Transport Command, and while on leave he played cricket in Karachi, Bombay, Calcutta and Delhi. He returned to England in July 1946 to be discharged as a flying lieutenant and soon made his county cricket debut against Somerset at Trent Bridge. Before turning to his exploits in first-class cricket, mention must be made of a remarkable achievement by Simpson while on overseas leave in England in August 1944. In the space of nine days he hit 529 runs in nine innings, with a high score of 99. On the strength of these performances Widen draws attention to his talent in the 1945 issue.
In those days of uncertainty, Simpson was unsure of his future, but his ambition when it came to cricket was to play as an amateur. By accepting an appointment with the firm Gunn & Moore, the manufacturers of sporting goods, he realizes this desire. Numbers can be deceiving in cricket, but they give an idea of Simpson’s progress. In 1947, his first full season, his full aggregate reached 1,674, averaging 38.21; in 1948 his total was 1,255, 29.18 average, but in 1949 he finished virtually third in the batting list with 2,525 runs, 63.12 average.
In its search for young players, the MCC chose him for the South African tour in 1948-49, but, scoring only five points in his two legs of the first match against South Africa, he could not find a match. place in the remaining four events. . Nevertheless, he gained valuable experience and on his return he took advantage of the opportunities the glorious weather presented him with last summer, and in particular the perfect pitches which favored all batsmen at Trent Bridge. At one point, Simpson and Keeton assembled four successive three-figure stands. The last, at Old Trafford, yielded 318 and was second highest against Lancashire in Manchester, falling just 12 from that of Hammond and Dipper for Gloucestershire in 1929. Simpson then made 238, the highest of his career.
Later in the same month he was selected for the Third Test against New Zealand at Old Trafford. It was the most important occasion of his cricketing career. After his South African disappointment he knew failure could set him back, but after finishing 50 he outdid himself by doubling his score in twenty-seven minutes. It was one of the finest hitting displays seen in a trial, and anyone who was there will remember a magnificent off-drive for 6 from Burtt. Simpson followed his 103 in Manchester with 68 in the final test at The Oval, where he was consistently applauded for his superb fielding from cover as well as on the edge. His speed in getting to the ball can be attributed to his splendid physical form. He believes in playing games all year round. As a boy, Simpson broke the Nottingham High School record for the 100 meters in 1936, which he covered in ten seconds and two fifths. The following year he won Nottinghamshire’s AAA junior sprint title and finished second in the senior event. As a rugby footballer, he earned his county cap for Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire in 1947-48. Nowadays, when he is not engaged in cricket, he devotes his free time to hockey and golf.
Seeing Simpson at the counter, one could imagine that he was inspired by his colleague from County Hardstaff, whose beautiful style he reproduces. When he’s at his best, Simpson is the type of drummer everyone looks up to. He has a clean, straight posture and enjoys hitting the ball past the wicket. At one point he was rather likely to turn the ball – a weakness that was particularly visible in South Africa – but last summer he couldn’t be faulted for that. Having established himself at the forefront of cricket, Simpson should go on to prove a valuable asset to both Nottinghamshire and England. — NP