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Frank Parr PARR, FRANCIS DAVID, died on May 8, aged 83. There were some sound judges, Herbert Strudwick among them, who saw Frank Parr keep wicket for Lancashire in the early 1950s and concluded that a rival might be emerging for Godfrey Evans's England place. Instead, Parr's career ended after 49 matches when he became victim of the martinet Cyril Washbrook's promotion to the Lancashire captaincy. Washbrook took vigorous exception to Parr's immersion in jazz music, a world that could hardly have been more Parr employed the hands that were so dextrous in the wicketkeeper's gloves to play the trombone and, if his cricket career did not reach the predicted heights, his life as a musician proved more fulfilling. In the late '50s, he was a member of the highly regarded Mick Mulligan Band, with George Melly as lead singer, and also played on stage with Louis Armstrong. Parr was a scruffy bohemian with a relaxed approach to personal hygiene and a penchant for cigarettes and whisky. According to Brian Statham, he "looked what he was: a spare-time musician"; Melly felt he "concealed a formidable, well-read intelligence behind a stylised oafishness". He was born in Wallasey, on the Wirral, and made his Lancashire debut at Fenner's in 1951. The following summer, in only his second Championship appearance, he caught the attention of Strudwick at The Oval. And while his keeping to the spinners was a work in progress, he was acrobatic by the standards of the time, especially for a tall man. He was selected for MCC against Yorkshire at Lord's in 1953, and asked whether he might be available to tour the West Indies that winter. But he was not selected, and by July 1954 his first-class career was over. The reason was simple: the intransigent Washbrook had taken over as captain from the easy-going Nigel Howard. He was enraged when Parr arrived for a House of Commons reception wearing a blue shirt and, when Parr produced an untidy performance at Bristol, it was just the excuse he'd been looking for. As the team prepared to head to Edgbaston, Washbrook told him: "Frank, you're going home." Exiled to the Seconds, Parr began to play better than ever, leading to discussions about a move to Worcestershire. He might have thrived in the relaxed atmosphere of New Road, but Washbrook put paid to those ambitions with a letter to Worcestershire calling him a "grave social risk". Parr was devastated. "It's probably when I took up serious drinking," he said. He moved to London and joined the Mick Mulligan Band, whose chaotic years on the road are detailed in Melly's book Owning Up, which devotes six pages to Parr. He continued to play cricket with a wandering team of jazz musicians called The Ravers, keeping wicket immaculately beyond the age of 60. He'd order a large scotch, however early it was. He was always good company."

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