The death occurred on December 3, 1991 in Keighley, Yorkshire, of Willis Walker aged 99. He was the last living link with pre-First World War County cricket, having made his Notts debut in 1913. Always immaculate in his turn out, he batted quietly yet efficiently for the county at first wicket down until 1937. In ten seasons he topped 1,000 runs, his most prolific summer being 1933, which was also his benefit year.
No Notts cricketer has lived to so great an age: curiously he cut two years off his age when he joined the county and thereby made the task of ascertaining his correct age more difficult, especially as he maintained that he was born in the Wiseton Estate in North Nottinghamshire. In fact he hailed originally from Gosforth near Newcastle, coming down to Wiseton as a boy, when his father found employment on the estate.
After serving in the First World War - in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on Tyneside from 1917 to 1919 - he moved to Keighley, acting as professional to the local town Club and in 1921 opened a sports outfitters there. In 1922 he rejoined the Notts playing staff, but it was not until 1925, with the dropping out of John Gunn, that Walker secured the No 3 place in the batting order.
Neville Cardus in 1929 commented: “I have yet to see Walker attempt a drive and not achieve a drive. But then he so seldom ventures on a ball that he does not well and truly see pitching. He is a batsman of economy, a batsman who plays by the book of arithmetic, but he adds up his runs without a blot.”
He was county cricketer par excellence, with a highest score of 165no, but never played either for England or even Test Trials, nor did he go overseas with any touring parties. His winters were first occupied by playing soccer, in goal for South Shields, Sheffield United, Doncaster, Bradford and the old Leeds club. After retiring from soccer in 1927 he increasingly devoted himself to his sports business, which still flourishes.
Nottinghamshire First-Class Number: 313