Harold Butler had very big shoes to fill when he was brought into the Nottinghamshire team in 1933 - Harold Larwood was still recovering from the damage wrought on his body by the hard Australian wickets during the bodyline series, and Butler was asked to fill his place. Butler was no Larwood, but developed into a fine pace bowler in his own right. Not overly elegant in his run-up and approach, everything came together in his delivery stride, and he bowled genuinely quickly. Because of the presence of Larwood and Voce, it was not until 1939 that he established himself as a regular for Nottinghamshire, but then the next six years were lost to war. England were desperately short of pace bowlers after the war, and Butler, although undoubtedly past his best, and carry more weight than he should, was given a chance against South Africa in 1947. He bowled superbly on his debut, taking 4/34 from 28 overs in the first innings, and an equally economic 3/32 in the second. He did not play the final Test but was picked to tour the West Indies that winter. He played in just one Test, after losing one and a half stone due to malaria, and bowled manfully, taking 3/122 in the West Indies first innings, and two cheap wickets in the second. He never played Tests again, which in retrospect seems somewhat of a puzzle - not many bowlers have a Test average of under 20, and England desperately needed a partner for Bedser. His age told against him however - he played 6 more years for Notts before retiring in 1954.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)
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