Former commentator Bannister dies

Jack Bannister (SuperSport)
Jack Bannister (SuperSport)

Cape Town - Jack Bannister, a former BBC television cricket commentator and later the Talksport radio cricket correspondent, has died at the age of 85.

He played professionally on the county scene for Warwickshire as a fast-medium bowler, taking 1 198 first-class wickets at an average of 21.91 in a career that lasted from 1950 to 1969.

Against the Combined Services cricket team for Warwickshire at the Mitchells and Butlers ground in Birmingham, Bannister took all 10 Services wickets in an innings for 41 runs. These remain the best bowling figures in an innings for Warwickshire.

Following his cricket career, Bannister worked as a bookmaker in Wolverhampton. During this time, he was instrumental in the formation of the Professional Cricketers' Association, having attended the inaugural meeting.

Bannister went on to serve the PCA as secretary, chairman and president for 20 years. He was also instrumental in setting up a pension scheme for county players.

"There is no denying that every cricketer owes Jack a huge debt of gratitude because he was one of the pioneers responsible for laying the foundations for the organisation we have now," said PCA assistant chief executive Jason Ratcliffe.

"Jack was always a players' man. He worked tirelessly to improve pay and conditions for players during his long association with the PCA. He was a fantastic cricketer with an outstanding record for Warwickshire. After he retired from playing, Jack became an influential figure in the broadcasting box from where he continued to promote the game he loved."

He was a familiar voice on BBC TV's cricket coverage from 1984 through to 1994 firstly as a summariser then moving on to commentating in 1988. David Gower joined the team in 1994 and eventually replaced Bannister the following summer, but Bannister continued to commentate on Natwest Trophy and Sunday League games until 1999, and had a full role at the BBC's coverage of the 1999 Cricket World Cup.

In later life, he provided commentary on and summaries of England international cricket matches on talkSPORT sports radio station from his home, while he watched the game on television.

During the 1995 South Africa vs England Test match series in South Africa, he promised he would eat a newspaper if South Africa won. He eventually did, when South Africa won.

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England 165/7 (58.3 ov)
Pakistan 326
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England 165/7 (58.3 ov)
Pakistan 326
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