In the eyes of many people, Gilbert Parkhouse was the most graceful of home-bred batsmen to play for Glamorgan. The Swansea-born batsman established many batting records for the Welsh county, and season after season, he was one of the most consistent of run scorers in Championship cricket. Indeed, he is currently the only Glamorgan batsman to have registered Championship centuries against every first-class county, having achieved this feat in May 1960 with 121 against Leicestershire on his home ground at St.Helen`s.
Educated at Wycliffe College in Stonehouse, Parkhouse shone as a schoolboy sportsman, and was offered trials by Gloucestershire C.C.C. However, he had his roots in Swansea, having been coached for hour after hour in the nets at St.Helen`s by Billy Bancroft, the former Glamorgan all-rounder and Welsh rugby international, and it could not have been too difficult a decision for Gilbert to join Glamorgan. After appearing in wartime friendlies, he made his first-class debut for Glamorgan in 1948, and soon showed class with the bat. In fact, he scored over 1,200 runs in his debut season, and despite being slightly built, the youngster showed a wide range of forcing strokes, all made with immaculate timing. Parkhouse also had a very safe pair of hands, as befiiting a former Swansea rugby player, and he developed into a safe fielder in the slips.
Parkhouse moved up from number three to partner opener Emrys Davies in 1950, and during that summer, he produced some elegant displays of batting, showing that he was equally at home against the fast bowlers and the spinners. His excellent run of form also resulted in his selection for England in the Test series against the 1950 West Indies. During the summer, he scored 1,742 runs, including three consecutive hundreds, and his outstanding record was rewarded with a place on the England tour to Australia and New Zealand. However, Gilbert struggled with poor health 'Down Under' and although he played in three Tests, he never really gave a proper account of his true abilities during the tour.
It highlighted the rich vein of batting talent that the England selectors were able to ignore the claims of Parkhouse until 1959, and all despite him season after season clocking up over 1,000 runs. Indeed, it was only whilst amassing a club record 2,071 runs in 1959 that the Welshman was recalled to the England side for the Third and Fourth Tests against India, and then after sharing an opening partnership of 146, he was omitted for the Fifth Test. Had the selectors shown more faith in him, and capped him more than seven times, Parkhouse had the class as a batsman to have made a huge impact at Test level.
Parkhouse continued to play for Glamorgan until 1964, when after some niggling back injuries, he retired from county cricket, and took up a post as coach with Worcestershire and then Stewarts-Melville College in Edinburgh from 1966 until 1987.
(Article: Copyright © 2000 Dr.A.K.Hignell)
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