Wednesday, November 18th, 2015

Tim Jones Gives Insight Into The Findings Of ‘don Kenyon – His Own Man’

Tim Jones Gives Insight Into The Findings Of ‘don Kenyon – His Own Man’

It was former Worcestershire player and committee member Norman Whiting who coined the phrase that led to Tim Jones naming his new book on double County Championship title winning captain Don Kenyon "His Own Man."

Tim, who is chairman of the Worcestershire Heritage Group and a current Worcestershire Board member, has produced a vivid description of the County's record run scorer with 37,002 first class runs.

He spent many months speaking to dozens of players and officials and Don's own family to build up a picture of Kenyon the man, player and captain – and it has certainly been worth the effort.

The Worcestershire CCC website sat down with Tim and he gave us an insight into what went into producing the 160 page book which is priced £15.

Tim said: "The title of the book 'His Own Man' is something that came about from talking to people who Don played with, particularly from his Worcestershire days.

"It was a phrase particularly that Norman Whiting used, that Don was 'his own bloke, his own man.'

"A few other people said that and I decided that's what I'm going to call it."

Don's former opening batting partner Ron Headley described the impact of Kenyon in leading the team to double title glory.

Tim said: "What has come across loud and clear is that Don moulded this team together. Ron Headley said Don always had a habit of making you feel 10 feet tall.

"Ron's recollections were absolutely brilliant. I spent two and a half hours with him one evening and he said Don would ask him to go out with him to the toss and say 'what shall we do' and Ron would say 'it's the same if we bat or bowl' and Don would say 'exactly'

"He was very good at nurturing people but very subtly. Bob Carter mentioned that you could always tell. He would just come up to you and say 'what are you?' and Alan Ormrod said you could tell from the look in his eyes if he was angry or not.

"Don was not a demonstrative man, a very private and shy man,but you knew where where you stood."

So what made Tim decide to write a book on Kenyon.

He said: "Something I wanted to do for a while, was write something on a Worcestershire subject and I couldn't come up with which idea.

"I was out with a friend one evening and suddenly I said 'I've got it, I know what needs to be done, there is nothing about Don, we know his career statistics, but there is nothing about him as a person. '

"That was the moment I realised this is what I wanted to do and I'm so pleased I have.

"I interviewed 25 or more people, a lot of the Worcestershire team from when he played, Norman Gifford, Ron Headley, Roy Booth, Duncan Fearnley, Alan Ormrod, John Elliott, Norman Whiting, John Aldridge, Glenn Turner, Derek Isles.

"Glenn and Derek's very first game for Worcestershire was actually Don's last against Pakistan – and he got his one and only wicket in that game (in 1967).

"Other people who contributed included Jeff Jones, Don Shepherd, Ray Illingworth, Geoff Boycott, MIke Beddow, Grace Fuller and Mike Vockins who has been excellent as well with his contribution. Phil Neale has done the forward. He had big respect for Don."

Tim added: "I spent a lot of time with Don's wife Jean and Don's daughter Sue. They have been really helpful and Don was a very meticulous man.

"He kept everything so I've had access to loads of newspaper cuttings, even ones relating to his Birmingham League days at 13-14 all the way through.

"There is stuff where he comments on the state of one-day cricket and finances and the structure of the game and there are three or four points that really resonate with what is happening in the game today.

"There are lots of photos, scorecards, menus, even his demob papers from the war, receipts from all the gifts he brought back from the world tour of 1965."

Jones revealed that Don seldom discussed cricket with his family and was focused on their well being.

He said: "Jean said he was like a bank manager, he'd do his cricket, come home and never talk about it.

"The important for him in his life was his family.

"Norman Whiting said he had said 'I've come into the game with nothing, but I won't leave with nothing.'

"Everything he did was for the well being and financial security of his family. When he finished, he was on the cricket committee at the time of the big upheaval in the 1970s."

Tim also reveals what Don did for a living away from the middle.

He said: "Don worked for a long time as Dudley, Iron and Steel as a rep and he wanted to be really good at that as well. Eric Hollies was one of the other reps.

"He used to have a box at Lord's and take the Dudley, Iron and Steel people to the Tests.

"He was very precise and a very methodical man. His daughter Sue said he would be very good as a watchmaker and a jeweller."

Tim also discovered that Don was an unselfish player who alway put the team before any personal achievements.

He said: "In terms of his run capacity, everyone says what a fantastic batsman he was. He liked to take on the quicks and Norman Whiting said he modelled his batting on Bob Wyatt who was quite a good mentor for him.

"Just after he announced his retirement, Don and Alan Ormrod rattled up 170 in 90 minutes to win against Essex and he was referred to by Jack Godfrey in the Worcester News as the 'phlegmatic killer.' 

"Even at the end of the career, he was still able to do that. He was an unselfish player and he played for the interests of the team and not himself.

"He hit 74 first class hundreds, third in our all time list behind Graeme Hick and GlennTurner. A very strong cricketer."

Perhaps Don did not play as much as international cricket as his performances merited but he would later become a Test selector.

Tim said: "I asked a lot of people why he didn't play more Test cricket because he only played eight Tests and was in and out.

"Wrong time, wrong place was one of the things.

"The other thing was an element of temperament. He was a very insular man and didn't particularly like socialising with the other players a great deal.

"The tour to India-Pakistan-Ceylon in 1951-52, he was homesick and it wasn't until late in his career that he got to grips with that and he found that a big trauma.

"Jean mentioned he was a bit like Steve Harmison, a home bird.

"In 1965 he was the first player to be appointed a Test selector while still a current player and had to miss at least five or six matches a season because of attending Tests as part of his job.

"It was that year Worcestershire won 10 of the last 11 games when he came back and won Championship title in the last game at Sussex with seven minutes to spare."

Don was also not afraid to stand up for himself as was shown in a run-in with England and Yorkshire fast bowler Fred Trueman.

Tim explained: "He had a run-in with Fred Trueman. Duncan Fearnley said it was the only time he lost his patience after Fred bowled a beamer.

"Don went down the pitch waving his bat and I believe offered him outside for a punch up and I believe Fred declined!"

This excellent publication can be obtained by emailing tim at or by sending £15 plus £2 postage to 8 Edgehill Drive, Perton, Wolverhampton, wv6 7sw.

In addition Tim will be selling copies of the book in the Hick Pavilion on Sunday December 6 between 11am and 12 noon ahead of the Sunday Lunches being served in the Pavilion on that day.