In the latest piece for Black History Month, we take a look at Roland Butcher and his highlights during his time with the county...
ROLAND BUTCHER - MIDDLESEX 1974 to 1990
251 First-Class appearances for Middlesex – 10,935 runs @ 31.69
261 List-A appearances for Middlesex – 4,752 runs @ 22.73
Roland Orlando Butcher was born in St Philip, Barbados on 14th October 1953, and moved over to England at the age of thirteen.
He joined Middlesex at the age of 20 ahead of the 1974 season, at the start of a career that would see him earn three England test caps and play in three ODI games in 1980/81. He made his First-Class debut for Middlesex in a three-day 8-wicket victory over Yorkshire on 22 June 1974, with his List-A debut coming a month later in the John Player League, on 28 July at Lord’s against Essex. He was awarded his Middlesex cap in 1979.
He is the latest to feature in our series celebrating Black History Month, where we have looked back on some of the best moments for the Club. Roland’s top score for The Seaxes came in 1982 in a draw against Yorkshire at Lord’s, as he made his way to 197 before being run out.
Arguably his greatest innings for the Club was at Hove in May 1987, in a thrilling Britannic Assurance County Championship match against Sussex. Middlesex won the toss and decided to field, bowling Sussex out on the first day for 286. Of course, in those days, matches were three days and would have a break in play on the Sunday, which meant that play returned on the Monday with Middlesex at 7/0.
In the first innings Roland scored 36 as Middlesex were bowled out for 251, with wicketkeeper-captain Paul Downton top-scoring with 93. With Sussex ending the day on 41/0 and 76 ahead, Middlesex went into the final day knowing that they would need something special to come away with a victory.
Sussex declared on 220/3 after 72 overs, which left Middlesex looking to chase 256 runs in half a day. Miller, Carr, and Roseberry all departed without scoring above 20, so when Butcher joined Wilf Slack at the crease they were still a long way off their target. What followed was next to extraordinary, as Roland started hitting the ball to all parts of the ground.
The Sussex bowling attack struggled to keep Roland quiet, as the ball kept flying past them as they went searching for wickets. The first innings run rate of 2.63 runs per over had doubled as Butcher and Downton took Middlesex closer and closer to the victory line.
Roland’s magnificent century came up from just 73 balls, subsequently winning the 1987 Walter Lawrence Trophy for the season’s fastest century on English soil. His blistering innings came to an end when he was caught by Alan Wells off the bowling of South African quick Garth le Roux for 117, and whilst he had not quite been able to finish the game, he had all but won it. Edmonds hit the winning runs soon after and Middlesex had won the game by 3 wickets, scoring 256/7 in 48.4 overs.
It was a brilliant performance and was one of 17 centuries the Barbadian hit for the Club across sixteen seasons. He also took a phenomenal 346 catches over his career at Middlesex.
Roland Butcher was a fine cricketer who had some fantastic years in a Middlesex shirt, being awarded a benefit year in 1989 before leaving the club a year later. He went on to play for Suffolk for a year before calling time on his illustrious playing career. Middlesex Cricket are indebted to a terrific man who won twelve trophies during his time at the club.