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Doncaster News and Features: Famous Doncastrian: Chris Balderstone
WITH the likes of Jimmy Cumbes (West Brom and Warwickshire), Phil Neale (Lincoln and Worcester) and Ted Hemsley (Sheffield United and Worcester) on the scene, combining top-level football and cricket wasn't that unusual in the Seventies.
But playing both on the same day? Now that was something special!
The late Huddersfield-born former Town and Yorkshire star Chris Balderstone made sporting history when he rushed from Leicestershire's crucial County Championship match against Derbyshire at Chesterfield to turn out for Doncaster Rovers in their Fourth Division showdown with Brentford.
Leicestershire, who had been revitalised under the guidance of ex-Yorkshire star Ray Illingworth, went into their final game in search of the seven points which would guarantee them a first title.
Doncaster, who had signed Balderstone from Carlisle United in the close-season, were making early headway in their bid to win promotion from Division IV.
The cricket match started badly for Leicestershire, who at one stage on day one, were 77-6.
They recovered to be 226 all out, then sent back their hosts for 211, with Balderstone taking one for 13 in nine overs.
The Paddock product then picked up his bat, and at the end of day two, was on 51 not out.
As soon as play finished, the 35-year-old jumped into a waiting taxi and was delivered to Belle Vue, where he helped Rovers battle out a 1-1 draw with Brentford.
The next morning, he stepped back out onto the cricket pitch to duly complete a century, his 116 helping Leicestershire reach a second-innings 260-6, at which stage they declared to set the home side a target of 276 in three hours, 20 minutes.
With Balderstone taking three for 28, Derbyshire were bowled out for 140 with five minutes to spare, and the title was clinched.
With the celebrations complete, Balderstone was back on Doncaster duty on the Saturday, when they went down 2-1 at Watford.
It was a remarkable feat from a man who scored 25 goals in 131 appearances for Town before Tom Johnston allowed him to go to Carlisle for £7,000 in June 1965.
Johnston didn't rate the cultured midfielder, but he became a hero at Carlisle and was a central figure in taking the club into the top flight for the only time in 1974.
His cricketing achievements were even greater, for in 1976, five years after leaving Yorkshire, the right-hand batsman and left-hand bowler won the biggest accolades of all when he twice represented England against the West Indies.
Balderstone, who was a respected cricket umpire before his death, through prostate cancer, in March 2000, once remarked: "Sometimes I think I had the best of both worlds, sometimes the worst. What I should really have done was played golf!"
Copy by Doug Thomson, The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. Read More Here
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