Northamptonshire County Cricket Club is deeply saddened at the death of former player and past President Peter Arnold at the age of 94.
Peter was the club’s oldest surviving first-class cricketer – a distinction that now passes to Harry Kelleher who celebrated his 92nd birthday earlier this year.
‘Kiwi’ Arnold sailed to England from his native New Zealand a few years after the Second World War, backing himself to carve out a career in professional cricket at Wantage Road with no guarantee of success. Half-a-century later, in 2000, he completed a four-year term as Northamptonshire’s president, and to the end of his life retained a passionate and unashamedly emotional commitment to the club.
“Northamptonshire County Cricket Club are so very grateful to Peter for the enormous contribution he made both on and off the cricket pitch.” Northamptonshire Chairman Gavin Warren said.
“He will be sadly missed and our thoughts are with his family at this very sad time.”
Recommended by Frank O’Brien from Christchurch, a County player before the Second World War, he impressed in pre-season trials at Northampton in April 1950 and was taken on the professional staff. After making his first-class debut for Northamptonshire against Scotland at Edinburgh in 1951, he created a favourable impression with 68 – batting down the order at number seven – on Championship debut against Lancashire (with Brian Statham on song) at Old Trafford that same season.
Promoted to open the innings with Dennis Brookes in 1954 following the retirement of Norman ‘Buddy’ Oldfield, he filled that role for the best part of six years, scoring nearly 1,600 runs with three centuries in 1955 (including a career-best 122 against Somerset at Taunton, sharing a 230-run stand with Brookes) and also topping 1,000 runs in the wet English summers of 1956 and 1958. He had a season of domestic cricket in New Zealand with Canterbury in 1953-54 but did not realise his ambition to play for the Black Caps.
He retired as a player in 1960 to concentrate on his business interests after scoring 7,420 runs in 167 first-class appearances for the club, but retained his interest in Northamptonshire and replaced former captain Keith Andrew on the old selection committee in 1976.
Then, from 1978 to 1995 – a period which saw seismic changes in the game – he chaired its replacement, the cricket sub-committee. In that capacity he acted as manager on the club’s first- ever pre-season trip overseas, to Durban early in 1992.
He also sat on the registration and discipline committees of ECB and succeeded Frank Chamberlain as Northamptonshire’s President in 1996. Along with Mike Warrington and Lewis McGibbon he was responsible for launching the annual former players’ reunion at Wantage Road and continued to attend for as long as his health allowed.