Play tells sad story of Yorkshire icon

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There can be few stories in the history of Yorkshire County Cricket Club that evoke such a deep sense of loss as the tragic death of Hedley Verity.

The slow left arm orthodox bowler was both a star of county and country, and one of few to have got the better of the great Aussie Don Bradman - arguably the greatest batsman who ever played the game.

Verity was playing for Yorkshire at Hove against Sussex on the day Britain declared war on Germany in 1939 - it was to be his last ever game.

Now this evocative story which embraces the thoughts of a nation about to be plunged into war, has been been brought to stage in a play written by Kit Monkman and Colin Philpott, a former BBC executive and director of the National Media Museum.

Philpott an avid historian, admits his first instinct was to make a documentary, however a lack of moving footage of the game and people to interview, made that virtually impossible. So he and his colleague decided to write a script and tell the story in dramatic form.

“Representing sport on a stage is challenging to say the least. And there are not that many examples,” said Colin. “So without giving too much away some of the story is told using recollection, There are some filmed elements of archive from the era and film of cricket from that time too added to the drama. It is an evocative story even if you are not interested in cricket.”

Actor Al Barclay, who starred in Stephen Fry’s Bright Young Things plays Verity.

The play went on tour this week, starting in Sussex at Hove (where Yorkshire are currently playing) and in weeks to come will arrive back in Yorkshire with two showings at Headingley, one in Bradford and one at Elland Cricket Club (September 2 when there will be two performances).

“The club is in an attractive setting and the function room provides us with a suitable space for the production.”

Verity took 10 for 10 in a championship game against Nottinghamshire in 1932 - figures that remain a county cricket record to this day.

He joined the Green Howards in 1939, and after training was posted overseas to India, Persia and Egypt. He rose to the rank of captain but during the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, was severely wounded and captured by the Germans. Taken to the Italian mainland, he died in Caserta from his injuries and was buried there.

There will be a talk by local cricket aficionado Peter Davies with the evening performance and pie andpeas.

Tickets for Elland from Dennis Midwood on 07866 678935 or from www.thelastmatch.com (£5 and £3 concessions)