William Ernest 'Billy' Rhodes, who died in Macclesfield on 16 August 2005 aged 60, was on the Trent Bridge playing staff for five seasons, 1960 to 1964. A resolute middle order right-handed batsman and talented wicketkeeper he was playing in the Bradford League for Salts when, in July 1959, he was offered a trial at Trent Bridge. He accepted a three year contract and joined the club the following April, having been specially registered.
1960 was something of an unlucky summer for Rhodes - ‘Played very good back to the wall innings and kept wicket very well, unfortunate a series of accidents in the middle of the season kept him out for the last six weeks' - and his cricket was confined to a handful of Second Eleven matches.
In 1961 he made his First-Class debut for Notts v Yorkshire at Hull in May, but his first year was also dogged by injury. Peter Forman, the Notts Second Eleven captain that summer noted: ‘Rhodes and Gill suffered injuries, Rhodes only once producing the form of which he is capable and I hope in 1962 this unlucky player will have an injury free season.’
Rhodes played in seven First-Class matches in 1961, purely as a batsman, Millman being the team’s keeper. Finally in 1962 Rhodes appeared to break into Championship cricket on a permanent basis.
With Millman playing in the Tests, Rhodes kept wicket for Notts in eight matches and played just for his batting talent in a further ten games. He hit 132 v Cambridge University in June and in the following game scored 41 out of Notts total of 121, also against Cambridge University, coming in at no 6.
The engagement in 1963 of Brian Bolus by Notts filled a batting place and, with Millman playing in all 31 Notts First-Class matches, Rhodes found no wicketkeeping vacancy and lost his place as a batsman. He made just one appearance.
In 1964 Millman again played in every game, Rhodes was picked for ten matches as a batsmen, but only averaged 18.31. His contract was not renewed for 1965 and he returned to Bradford.
In later life he suffered from epilepsy, brought on, it was presumed, by being struck by a cricket ball whilst batting. His son Steven, also a wicketkeeper-batsman, played briefly for Yorkshire, then for Worcestershire and for England in eleven Tests in the mid-1990s; Billy's grandson, George also played for Worcestershire.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 428