Reg Simpson was a stylish opening bat for Nottinghamshire and England. Handsome, tall and dark he cut an elegant figure at the wicket with his upright stance and flowing drives. A strong back foot player he hooked better than most tall men. He bowled occasional off-breaks, and was a fine fielder, especially in the covers. His first-class debut was delayed by the Second World War, and he was first seen playing for Sind in India, where he was stationed with the RAF. He was 26 before he played first-class cricket in England, but he made an immediate impression, and was selected to tour South Africa in 1948/49. He played a single Test on that tour without passing double figures, but when selected to play against New Zealand the following year made a century in the middle order. As an opener he found it hard to displace Hutton and Washbrook, and later faced competition from others as he was in and out of the Test side over the next six years. In 1951 he took over the captaincy of a weak Nottinghamshire, and shouldered the burden for ten years. Intermittent back problems did not prevent him amassing 64 four first-class centuries, and playing 27 Tests. His finest hour was probably the 156* that played the major part of England's first Test victory over Australia in thirteen years, in the final Test of the 1950/51 tour. Batting at number 3 he was on 92 when the ninth wicket fell with England only 29 ahead. He took the attack to the Australians magnificently, and the last wicket put on 74. Swanton said of this innings "In such a mood Simpson's batsmanship looked akin to greatness". Such moods came upon him rarely however, and he never was able to reproduce the consistency of his county form at Test level. He retired in 1960, served on the Nottinghamshire committee, was made an honourary member of the MCC, and was a director of the bat-makers, Gunn and Moore.
(Article: Copyright © 2001 Dave Liverman)
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