David John Halfyard, who died on 23 August 1996, was born in Winchmore Hill, North London on 3 April 1931.
His family moved to Surrey and he was educated at Purley County Grammar School. Between 1950 and 1954 he appeared in sundry matches for Surrey Club & Ground and latterly for Surrey seconds, his club cricket being for Beddington and Banstead.
After this long trial period he was taken on The Oval staff in 1955 when he captured 54 wickets at 16.29 for the Seconds. As a seam bowler he was competing with Bedser and Loader, as well as such young hopefuls as Kelleher, Hall and Sydenham.
Despairing of Championship cricket with Surrey, he moved to Kent for the 1956 summer and made his First-Class debut for his new county against Cambridge University in May. He quickly gained a regular place in the Kent side and during that first season took 58 wickets. The following year he exceeded 100 wickets, a feat he was to repeat for the next four campaigns.
A report noted in 1957: ‘The key to Halfyard’s development into a match winning bowler appears to lay in controlled variation of length and flight and the ability to cut his low-trajectory deliveries back from the off quite sharply. On a helpful pitch he also makes the ball fly menacingly.'
There seemed no reason why his success should not continue for the next decade, but on 11 August 11 1962 whilst he was travelling in his car to West-Super-Mare, prior to the Championship match with Somerset, he was involved in a head-on collision.
He received multiple injuries, including a broken leg and doctors forecast that he would have to retire from professional cricket. At the time of the accident, Halfyard had taken 98 wickets during the season.
In 1963 his county cricket was confined to a single game with the Kent Club & Ground. He was given a trial with Kent senior side in 1964, but his single wicket cost 179 runs and the county agreed to release him, whilst granting him testimonial for 1965. This raised £3,216.
Halfyard was not someone to admit defeat and in 1966 he took a pro engagement in Greenock, picking up 63 wickets at 8 runs each. In 1967 he came back to England and joined the First-Class Umpires List. Still wanting to return to active cricket he obtained a trial with Notts and in October 1967, signed a one year contract with the county.
Making his Notts debut on the same day as Gary Sobers, Halfyard had a most successful summer with his third county, taking 76 wickets. He was re-engaged for 1969 and 1970. In all he played in 77 matches for Notts and took 194 wickets at 30.30, his best bowling performance being 6-14. This was against Hampshire at Basingstoke in 1969, when Halfyard virtually won the game for Notts – in Notts first innings the score had slumped to 102 for eight, Halfyard then joined Forbes and 77 were added for 9th wicket. On the final day Hampshire only needed 147 to win, Barry Richards hit a fine 56, but Halfyard removed him and proceeded to take five more wickets, so that no less than eight wickets went down for just 30 runs.
The years 1971 and 1972 saw Halfyard playing for his fourth county – Durham. In both seasons he was that county’s leading wicket-taker. In 1973 he switched to neighbouring Northumberland, again being the leading wicket-taker.
A season later, 1974 found the seam bowler down in the South West, representing his sixth county, Cornwall. His statistics for his first year of Cornish cricket were 74 wickets, average 9.71. He topped the bowling for the Minor Counties Championship. He continued with Cornwall for the next two seasons with equally impressive seasons, then in 1977 decided to rejoin the First-Class Umpires List, though with the agreement that he could still play for Cornwall. In the event he only played one or two matches.
His umpiring career ceased in 1981 and, aged 51, he re-appeared briefly for Cornwall. From his initial trials with Surrey his career in senior cricket had lasted 33 seasons.
When he died aged 65 in 1996 he was still playing in the Devon Premier League and took his final wicket only a week or two before he passed away. Halfyard never conceded defeat and as a bowler as known as ‘The Machine’.
His other love was his aged camper-van in which it is said he travelled over 400,000 miles.
November 2023Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 450
Michael Carey's appreciation of David Halfyard can be seen here