Hampshire Cricket is mourning legends Jimmy Gray and Vic Cannings, who  passed away in the same month as former teammate Leo Harrison.

Southampton-born Jimmy Gray is the second member of the 1961 County Championship-winning side to have passed away in the last few weeks, following Harrison's passing, aged 94.

Vic Cannings, who was also born in Hampshire, was a prolific bowler who shared the new ball with Derek Shackleton.

Hampshire Cricket Chairman, Rod Bransgrove said: “October was the saddest of months for Hampshire Cricket, losing three stalwarts of the County in just one month.

"Following the loss of Leo Harrison a mere three weeks ago, the County learned of the loss of both Vic Cannings and Jimmy Gray in the space of a couple of days.

“Both of these players made an enormous impact on the fortunes of Hampshire in the ‘50s and ‘60s and, in the case of Jimmy Gray, went on to serve as Chairman of Cricket for some years after his playing days were over.

"Once again, the Hampshire Cricket community are collectively mourning the loss of these wonderful contributors to the history and tradition of this great Club and our thoughts are currently focused on their families and many close friends.”

These obituaries are courtesy of Hampshire's Honorary Archivist, Dave Allen. 

JIMMY GRAY (1926-2016)

Jimmy Gray, who has died aged 90, was one of the finest of all Hampshire’s native cricketers.

He was born in Southampton in 1926 and was educated at the city’s King Edward VI Grammar School, although evacuated to Poole during the war.

While there, he took up football and after some local success was taken onto the staff at Arsenal along with other cricketers including his friend Arthur Milton, the Compton brothers and the Hampshire wicket-keeper Ralph Prouton.

He spent four years at Highbury without a first-team appearance and eventually played with Bedford and Salisbury before concentrating on cricket.

He played for the leading Southampton club side Deanery and in 1948 Hampshire played two first-class non-Championship matches at Aldershot, giving debuts to Derek Shackleton and Jimmy Gray – choices that would pay significant dividends, not least in 1961.

Daily Echo:

The Hampshire team when Jimmy Gray and Derek Shackleton made their debuts in 1947. Back: Dick Court, Jimmy Gray, Neville Rogers, Derek Shackleton, Gilbert Dawson, Howard Dawson, Leo Harrison, Front: Gerry Hill, Jim Bailey, Desmond Eagar, 'Monty' (Field marshal Bernard Montgomerie), Alan Waldron, Jonny Arnold, George Heath.

Derek Shackleton enjoyed immediate and sustained success but the early years were tougher for Jimmy Gray.

From 1948-1950 he managed just two half-centuries and an average under 20, but in 1951 he broke into the side with 1,332 runs at 34.15 and the award of his county cap.

He then reached four figures in every season up to and including 1963 when he moved into school-teaching and played only part-time for a few years.

In three particularly fine seasons, the gloriously sunny 1959, the title-winning 1961 and again in 1962 he passed 2,000 runs and in the first and last of those averaged above 40.

In 1955 he formed an opening partnership with West Indian Roy Marshall which was one foundation of Hampshire’s successes in 1955 (3rd), 1958 (2nd) and 1961 (Champions).

Gray’s correct English style was the perfect foil to Marshall’s brilliance and Jimmy was also a highly intelligent if sometimes cautious thinker about the game.

Jimmy scored 30 centuries for Hampshire during a period when bowlers frequently dominated the county game.

His best was 213* v Derbyshire at Portsmouth in 1962 and two years earlier he and Marshall set the Hampshire opening partnership record v Middlesex on the same ground.

Jimmy’s career aggregate of 22,450 runs is the fourth highest for Hampshire, behind three Test players and the highest by a Hampshire-born player.

If this was not enough, he was a useful close-to-the-wicket fielder with 350 catches but even more significantly an effective medium-pace bowler.

His 451 first-class wickets (at 30 each) is almost certainly more than any player will achieve in the future.

In 1952 he took 7-56 against Nottinghamshire at Bournemouth and three years later 7-52 v Glamorgan at Swansea.

He played in just six limited-overs matches but had he been ten years younger, his all-round abilities might have made him very effective in the shorter format.

Jimmy’s benefit realised £4350. He taught at Stroud School, Romsey and became Deputy Headteacher – there was perhaps always something of that about him as a cricketer who was always immaculately turned out.

After retiring from teaching, he and Peter Sainsbury took over the ‘Hampshire’ sports business of Holt & Haskell.

Having been one of the finest Hampshire cricketers he returned to ‘duty’ in the 1990s on the Committee and as Chairman of the Cricket Committee, working alongside his good friend Neville Rogers.

Daily Echo:

Hampshire CCC 1955, the season the county finished third for the first time. Back (l-r): Peter Sainsbury, JIMMY GRAY, Alan Rayment, George Heath, Roy Marshall, Mervyn Burden, Henry Horton. Front (l-r): Derek Shackleton, Neville Rogers, Desmond Eagar, Leo Harrison, VIC CANNINGS

VIC CANNINGS (1919-2016)

Vic was born in April 1919, in the Hampshire village of Bighton, which tended to confuse people in his early days as he was listed sometimes as a man of Sussex!

In his teens he played club cricket in north Hampshire, but then served abroad in the Palestine police so did not play county cricket until after war.

Hampshire could not afford him initially, so he joined Warwickshire and made his debut in 1947.

In that first season he took 63 wickets at just under 30 apiece but he played less regularly in the next two seasons.

Hampshire’s veteran pace bowlers Herman and Heath had no obvious replacements and Hampshire, seeking a partner for the promising Derek Shackleton, approached Vic.

He came back to Hampshire in 1950 just after his 31st birthday and took 83 wickets at under 25 each in that first season.

He and ‘Shack’ bowled together for the first time at Lord’s, dismissing Middlesex for 103 and Vic’s dismissal of Denis Compton was the first of a number of times, such that the great DCS Compton became known as Vic’s ‘rabbit’.

In 1952, ‘Shack’ and Vic bowled unchanged in both innings in a victory at Southampton over their traditional Whitsun opponents Kent – in the first innings Vic also held three gully catches as Kent were dismissed for 32.

The two formed a fine opening partnership through the 1950s, as Hampshire finished 3rd (1955) and 2nd (1958) for the first time ever.

He took 100 wickets in four consecutive seasons, 1951-1954 and his 94 wickets in the wonderful 1955 season cost just 17.64 each and an economy rate barely above two runs per over.

His batting was less remarkable with a career average of around 10 and one half-century (for Warwickshire) but in 1950 he and Charlie Knott steered Hampshire from 131-9 to 152 all out and a tie with Kent.

Extraordinarily in 1955 at Eastbourne, Vic and Peter Sainsbury came together at 84-8 with Hampshire chasing 140 for victory.

The ninth wicket pair brought the scores level, at which point Sussex took two wickets without addition and Hampshire recorded the third (of four) ties in their history with Vic’s dismissal twice enabling that result.

In 1953 he had the odd record of being the only bowler to dismiss the Australian’s Bill Johnston. Vic was fond of last-minute thrills.

In 1955 he had Kent’s Doug Wright lbw from the last ball to win the match, and against Oxford University one year later, Hampshire won by one run when Vic took two wickets with the last two balls of the match.

Vic was capped very soon on returning to Hampshire and having been similarly rewarded by Warwickshire, he added a third later with Buckinghamshire in Minor Counties cricket.

In all he took 834 first-class wickets for Hampshire in ten seasons at an average of 21.68 - all after his 30th birthday.

He took his benefit in 1959 (£3,787) then retired and coached at Eton for many years (John Barclay has written of being coached by him).

At 97 he was the second oldest living Hampshire cricketer (after centurion John Manners)