The highly enthusiastic Barry Stead was born in Leeds on 21 June 1939. A small, stocky man, his attitude to the game was encapsulated in his whirlwind, rather frenetic approach to the wicket. He made a dramatic first-class debut for his native Yorkshire in 1959 at Park Avenue, Bradford when his left-arm medium fast bowling demolished the Indians, Stead taking 7 for 76. He played one further game for Yorkshire the following week. After two years serving in The Army for his National Service, which included five first-class matches for Combined Services, he opted to join Notts making his maiden Notts first-class appearance v Cambridge University at Trent Bridge in June 1962. Ten days previously, Stead was recorded with a first-class appearance despite failing to turn up in The Parks when selected for Essex against the Oxford students
Stead found it tough to break into Notts side, facing competition initially from Davison, Corran and Forbes, and later from Sobers and Halfyard. In 1967 a number of excellent performances, including 7-32 versus Worcestershire, appeared to have won him a permanent place but it was two seasons later before he became an automatic pick receiving his County Cap after amassing 82 first-class scalps @23.63 in the campaign. The 1972 season was his best when he took 98 first-class victims @20.38. He had match of figures of 12-111 versus Somerset at Trent Bridge, including a career best of 8-44 incorporating a hat trick – with his last victim being Yorkshire legend Brian Close. In the same season he hit a first-class best 58 against Gloucestershire at Bristol and was elected as the Professional Cricketers' Association 'Player of the Year'.
For the next three years he remained one of county’s leading wicket-takers, until first a hamstring injury during his benefit year of 1976, and then an Achilles tendon problem the following season, effectively brought his career to the end. Batting left handed, Stead frequently gave it the long handle scoring 1,938 runs in 215 first-class games for Notts. He took 604 first-class wickets for Notts.
During these later years he turned in some match-winning performances in limited-overs cricket. His best List A figures were 5-26 which he achieved twice in 1975 against Minor Counties (North) at Newark and Essex at Trent Bridge. The following season, Stead peppered the cemetery next to the Newark ground as his List A best of 35 not out guided Notts to a five wicket victory over Middlesex in a Benson and Hedges encounter. Not always, perhaps, the luckiest of cricketers, he was called back by an injury-hit Notts in 1978 and had the desperate fortune to miss a difficult, lofted catch in front of Trent Bridge Pavilion from Lancashire's Jack Simmons which decided a John Player League match before the eyes of millions of BBC2 viewers. Through his discomfiture, characteristically he managed a wide and ruddy grin. His final Notts appearance was during the following week, ironically where his career had started 19 years previously at Park Avenue, Bradford as Notts lost a Gillette Cup tie by a single wicket to The Tykes in July 1978, Stead’s 3-38 being the best figures of the match. In 156 List A games he scored 742 runs and took 199 wickets @23.00.
Stead spent two winters (1975/6 and 1976/7) playing for Northern Transvaal in South Africa, He tragically died young of cancer at the age of 40 on 15April 1980 at his pub in Drightlington, Yorkshire.