Harold ‘Dusty’ Rhodes was a genuinely quick bowler who might have had a much longer and more distinguished international career had doubts not arisen about the validity of his action.
As it was, he played in just two Test Matches for England and had given up First-Class cricket when he came to Trent Bridge in 1970 and spent three seasons playing in List-A games for Nottinghamshire.
He was born in Glossop, Derbyshire, on 22 July 1936, the son of Derbyshire stalwart Albert Rhodes – also nicknamed ‘Dusty’ – who played for that county for many years, initially as a leg-break bowler but later as a pace man. Indeed, Albert was still on Derbyshire playing strength in 1953 when Harold joined but the two never played in a first team fixture together.
Harold, too, started out as a twirler, bowling off spin, but by the time he was established in the Derbyshire First XI he was a seam bowler who generated lots of pace and troubled county batsmen. In his first full season, 1958, he took 67 wickets with two five-wicket hauls and the following year became the county’s main opening bowler in partnership with Les Jackson. During that season he was selected for two tests against India – this at a time when England’s fast bowling was strong with Statham, Trueman, Tyson and Loader all contesting international places – and took nine wickets at 27.11 and a best return of 4-50.
Doubts about his action had begun to surface by then and he was ‘called’ for throwing by umpire Paul Gibb in 1960; no other umpire objected to his action at that time but that put an abrupt end to his England career. In 1965, Rhodes was ‘called’ again, this time by the very experienced Syd Buller, who suggested to the authorities that Rhodes should be withdrawn from county cricket. Detailed investigations followed and eventually, in 1968, the MCC declared his action legal, explaining that he had a ‘hyper-extended arm’; he continued to play first team cricket for Derbyshire, making his final County Championship appearance against Sussex at Eastbourne in September 1969.
The following season he moved across the East Midlands and joined Nottinghamshire to play in limited-overs cricket. For the next three years, he played in the John Player League and the one-day cup competitions; he appeared in 18 matches, taking 17 wickets at 29.94, with best figures of 3-28. He continued to play League cricket and returned to Derbyshire for one last season, playing List-A games in 1975.
Rhodes finished with 1073 First-Class wickets at an average of 19.50 and a best performance of 7-38. He was a right handed batsman and played 399 innings in 322 first-class matches with an average of 9.48 and a top score of 48. He scored no runs in his two Tests.
After the conclusion of his playing career, Rhodes took up coaching. He served as part-time coach of the German national team between 1996 and 2001, including at the 2001 ICC Trophy in Canada.
Remarkably, considering his own issues with officialdom, Dusty Rhodes became an umpire after he finished playing and stood at every level of the game, making his last ‘stand’ in the Women’s County Championship in 2009.