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A 43-day drive to a Test match

John Woodcock in 1966. Patrick Eagar/Popperfoto/Getty Images

Cricket writer John Woodcock, who died last Sunday at 94, was a “one-club man”, says Simon Kelner in the I newspaper. He was The Times’s cricket correspondent from 1954 until 1987 and contributed his final piece, on West Indian batsman Everton Weekes, last year. He was such a master of rhythmic prose that it was said “he’d put all the commas in first”.

The era he reported on is long gone. Readers wouldn’t hear from Woodcock for months while he travelled by boat to cover tours abroad, “playing deck quoits with England’s finest”. For England’s 1976-77 tour of India, “Wooders” and Test Match Special commentator Henry Blofeld took 43 days to drive from London in a 1921 Rolls-Royce, proffering whisky miniatures to “smooth their way past border officials”.

Woodcock never married, and from 1947 lived in the same cottage in Longparish, Hampshire, devoting himself to the game and his friendships with some of its greats, including Len Hutton and Denis Compton, says The Times. Although he fell out with a colleague over the “correct abbreviation for Middlesex”, Woodcock had a sense of humour. He owned a succession of springer spaniels – Spinner, Googly, Flight, Slip, Stumper – until he ran out of cricketing names. “I can hardly call one Persistent Short-Pitched Bowling, can I?” he said.