by A.C. de Silva
Sri Lanka has been well served in the past before the country gained Test
status in 1982 by cricketers who made their presence felt on the
international scene in no uncertain manner. The deeds of Gamini Goonesena
and Stanley Jayasinghe are only too well known to the cricketing public and
repeating them will not make much news.
However, just after the deeds of Goonesena and Stanley Jayasinghe who played
for Leicestershire was a effervescent batsman, a left-hander at that who
almost made cricketing history for the country, but by strange rules was
deprived of playing Test cricket for English.
Clive Inman and Jayasinghe has a partnership here in Sri Lanka when both
played for CCC in the 1950s.
The somewhat unfortunate one is Clive Inman - the former Peterite who went
on to captain the team. After glorious career at St. Peter's where he had
the distinction of scoring a record-breaking 204 (retired hurt) in the 'Big
Match' against traditional rivals St. Joseph's, Inman played for Sri Lanka
(Ceylon then) in 1956-57. He played again in 1958-59 and in 1961-62 and
toured Pakistan with the Sri Lanka team in 1966-67.
He played for All Ceylon against England led by Ted Dexter and was a
brilliant cover fielder along with Michael Tissera and David Heyn.
Then as a 25-year-old after having a stint at a Colombo office in the
administrative section, he packed his bags and decided to make England his
Cricket was not for most in the mind of Clive Inman when he went to England.
He wanted to further his interests in commerce. But instead of ending up
behind an office desk, he made his way to the field he loves - cricket.
Born on January 29th 1936, he became a full-time professional with
Leicestershire County Club and according to experts, he made the grade soon
and began hitting the headlines in the media.
His prowess in cricket is not surprising. He comes from a family of
cricketers. His father Harry Inman played for Ceylon teams many times. Inman
(Senior) an all-rounder, had four sons - all cricketers (Roger played for S.
Thomas') and his one boast was that he bowled England's Jack Hobbs. It was
like a business in the family, playing cricket.
Clive has been featured in many cricket magazines and 'Playfair Cricket
Monthly' in one of its issues said: "A slightly-built man he has a physique
which can be put to good use for the drive or hook with power and grace
which belies his appearance. For the sweetness of that off-drive alone, it
is a pleasure to watch him at the crease." This was something like a tonic
for the Sri Lankan who was to serve the delight the English fans at
Leicester for close on a decade.
The worth of Clive Inman was felt by the Sri Lankan cricketing authorities
then and even after he left the shores of Sri Lanka to better his prospects
in England in 1959, he was called up for duty with the Sri Lanka team at
He was not allowed to play straightaway for his county Leicestershire in
County Championship matches, but had to serve the obligatory two-year
residential qualification, but he became an instant hit with the Leicester
crowds after he played two superb knocks of 30 and an unbeaten 45 against
the Australian tourists in the game that the Australians won by eight
No sooner he came to England, Clive Inman was offered a job not in commerce,
but as a professional cricketer with Penzance Cricket Club who used to play
in the Cornish League.
This was the great opening that he waited for and he never looked back after
that offer came his way.
He headed the country's batting averages for nine full seasons with
Leicestershire in top grade cricket between 1962 and 1971 and then to third
place twice in 1967 when he aggregated 1,403 runs with three centuries, and
in 1971, his final season, he scored 1,404 runs with four centuries. On both
occasions he led the country batting averages.
It was when he was at Penzance that Clive was married to Margaret Jones on J
uly 29 in 1961.
In 1963, Inman had his first full season with Leicestershire and was capped
mid-way through it and he made the most of it, scoring 1,708 runs with one
century and 13 half-centuries. He came third in the main batting averages
with 1,798 runs at an average of 42.70 per innings. Only Mike Smith
(Warwickshire) and Geoffrey Boycott (Yorkshire), two England Test cricketers
were ahead of Inman in the final first-class batting averages that year.
Clive Inman's maiden century for the country (120 not out) had a moment of
nostalgia as it was made with another Sri Lankan - Stanley Jayasinghe as his
partner. As reported in the newspapers of the day, Inman played some
glorious shots in their fifth wicket partnership of 147, which enabled
Leicestershire beat Cambridge University by nine wickets at Cambridge.
Though in 1964 and 1965 Inman came off with fine performances to lead their
batting averages, scoring over 1,000 runs each season, the county, however,
never rose above 14th place.
He followed his success against Richie Benaud's Australians before and
another fine display against Bob Simpson's men in 1964, scoring 47 and 93
and enabling Leicestershire to make their best total ever against
Australia - 311 for 7 wickets declared. Inman shared a third-wicket stand of
138 runs with Jackie Birkenshaw, making runs freely against an Australian
attack that had McKenzie, Corling, Veivers, Potter, Sellers and Simpson.
Inman's outstanding performances for Leicestershire came in 1965 season
where he scored 178 against Essex at Leicester which highlighted their
batting. His innings, was inclusive of a six and 29 fours and it came in 3
and 3/4 hours.
50 in 8 mins
Then he had an extra ordinary feat of scoring 51 runs in just eight minutes
with 50 of the runs coming in just two overs. Nottinghamshire were giving
away runs in the hope of a declaration by Leicestershire with 199 for 3
wickets. Bolus was the bowler and Inman took a single off the last ball of
the over. Inman then hit 18 - 4,4,6,4 and 32-4,6,6,6,6 and 4 off successive
overs from Hill. The previous fastest 50 was by Jim Smith of Middlesex who
scored 50 in eleven minutes against Gloucestershire at Bristol in 1938.
In the 1965 season, Inman was an Gold Award - the first by a Sri Lankan when
he scored 66 and the Man of the Match award for hitting one six and eight
fours during his knock for Leicestershire in the limited-over competition
against Yorkshire and Leicestershire won by six wickets.
In 1968, Clive Inman had the rare distinction of captaining Leicestershire
in two matches when regular skipper Maurice Hallam fell ill. Inman made 47
and 87 against Nottinghamshire who had Garfield Sobers - the West Indian
captain. The second match - Leicestershire won by 30 runs over
That season was a productive one for him for he recorded his highest
aggregate - 1735 runs for an average of 36.91 with one century and 26
half-centuries. Leicestershire ended up ninth in the county table.
A cricket writer Edward Davay once wrote in the 'Playfair Cricket Monthly':
"The tragedy for Inman of course is that unless selected by England -
unlikely, but in one of his best season, a choice nobody could cavil at - he
is virtually 'stateless' as far as Test match opportunities are concerned."
In 1970 Leicestershire granted Clive Inman a benefit and in his benefit
match against Nottinghamshire at Leicester, Inman came off with the bat,
scoring an attractive 76 which included a six and then fours and he shared a
third wicket partnership of 131 with M.E. Norman. Leicestershire won the
match by ten wickets and Inman collected a 'purse' of 2,000 pounds sterling
from that match as his benefit.
It was big money then, far below what the cricketers of the present day
collect. That season, Inman topped 1,000 runs, Leicestershire ended up in