Everyone connected with Northamptonshire County Cricket Club has been saddened to learn of the passing of our former player Les McFarlane at the age of 66.
Born in Jamaica, Les earned a reputation as a formidable fast bowler with United Social in Northampton Town League cricket during the 1970s, forming a much-feared pace partnership with his brother Carl.
Few if any club batsmen relished facing Les on the ‘sporting’ park pitches of the time – but he was too good a bowler to need that degree of help from the conditions and duly attracted interest from Wantage Road.
He turned out for Northamptonshire’s Second XI as early as 1974, and at the end of May 1979 – forty years ago this week – made his first-class debut for the County (player number 322) against Surrey at The Oval, sharing the new ball with Sarfraz Nawaz.
He took 13 wickets in eight matches that season – also playing in five John Player League games – but failed to make enough of an impact to persuade NCCC to offer him a full contract for 1980.
Then a superb season for Bedfordshire in 1981, claiming 62 wickets at 16.62, persuaded Lancashire to sign him. He made 35 appearances for them between 1982 and 1984 and took 73 wickets including a match-winning 6-59 against Warwickshire at Southport in 1982.
He subsequently left Old Trafford and spent the summer of 1985 with Glamorgan, for whom he picked up 16 wickets in 13 matches. Appropriately, perhaps, his final first-class appearance was for the Welsh county against Northamptonshire at Wellingborough School, dismissing Robin Boyd-Moss for his 102nd and last victim.
Les continued to be a force at Minor Counties level – for Beds and later Staffordshire – as well as providing a cutting edge for the Northamptonshire Cricket Association’s Senior XI in the national inter-county competition, and in 1994 he helped Old Northamptonians win the Northants County League’s top division title.
He was a regular attender at Northamptonshire’s Former Players’ Day in recent seasons and will be much-missed at this year’s event in August.
Northamptonshire CCC offers sincerest condolences to Les’s family and friends.