Skip to main content

Dickie Dodds

A British cricketer who hit hard and enjoyed it.

In his foreword to Dickie Dodds's autobiography Hit Hard and Enjoy It (1976) Sir Neville Cardus wrote, "In all the annals of cricket there has been no cricketer with so remarkable and inspiring a story to tell."

Dodds opened the batting for Essex from 1946 to his retirement in 1959, scoring over 1,000 runs each season, and 2,147 in 1947. He played in 380 first-class matches. Cardus was intrigued to know what had changed him from a batsman of instinctive caution into one of the boldest stroke-players on the county circuit. One day, against Lancashire, he hit the England fast bowler Brian Statham for four and six off the first two balls of the innings. Famously at Southend, he hooked a six into the tented tavern, where the ball ricocheted off the beer-pump and knocked out both barmaids.

Most of his war service was in Burma and he was amazed to come out alive. A cricket career was the obvious way to celebrate. Then on the troopship returning home he moved towards a new thinking that would deepen his life. The son of an Anglican clergyman, he had cut himself off from the life of faith. Yet here was a post-war world that needed healing and forgiveness, and he reckoned he needed it too.

Sitting in a deckchair on the vicarage lawn one spring morning of 1946 he decided that "so far as I could understand it, I would from that point on do only what God told me to do". County cricket seemed part of that contract. He was demobbed on 20 May, and two days later arrived at Ilford to play for Essex against Sussex.

As Cardus later wrote: "On the morning of his first game for Essex he, in his own words, "asked God how I should play cricket" . .. and the clear thought came: "Hit the ball hard and enjoy it."

Click here to read a full obituary written by Peter Everington.

Themes

Death year
1995
Profession
Nationality
United Kingdom
Primary country of residence
United Kingdom