One in a series of articles checking out the careers of Warrington's sporting legends, who take a much deserved place in our Hall of Heroes


REVERED for coining the cry ‘Owzat’, George Duckworth is the finest cricketer Warrington has ever produced.

It is 90 years since he first sent that appeal ringing around an England Test Match on his debut for the national side.

Duckworth, aged 23 at the time, did not catch any victims that day at Old Trafford, but the wicket keeper would go on to help in more than 1,000 dismissals during his 15-year first-class career.

A big rugby league fan, Duckworth was born in Warrington on May 9, 1901 and attended Boteler Grammar School, while residing in the town his whole life.

Duckworth went on trial with Warwickshire following the First World War, but eventually made his first-class bow for Lancashire in 1923.

He quickly became established at Old Trafford and the following year won the first of 24 Test caps for his country, where he became famed for popularising the legendary ‘Owzat’ appeal call.

Duckworth quickly became a well-recognised personality on the cricketing scene, with an extract from his Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack obituary reading: “Small of stature, but big of heart and voice, Duckworth used an “Owzat” shout of such piercing quality and volume that his appeal alone would have made him a figure to be remembered.”

Not blessed as a batsman, high-scoring for England with an unbeaten 39, Duckworth more than made up for it with his gloves and took 59 wicketkeeping victims during his international spell.

It was with Lancashire he really shone, taking a then record 921 victims en route to five Championship wins with the club.

Completing three successive titles for Lancashire in the 1928 season, Duckworth also claimed his first Test victim for England that year – West Indies’ Sammy Scott at the Oval.

The successful Lancashire team was captained by Leonard Green, who Wisden say described Duckworth as “one of the smallest, but noisiest of all cricketing artists – a man born to squat behind the wicket and provide good humour and unbounded thrills day by day in many a glorious summer”.

His form shown in a title-winning Lancashire side earned a him spot on England’s tour to Australia, while Duckworth also travelled to South Africa in 1930, the infamous Bodyline series Down Under in 1932 – bodyline bowling was a tactic employed to combat the batting skill of Australia’s Don Bradman – and made a third trip to Australia in 1936.

He went on to win two more Championships with Lancashire, in 1930 and 1934, the latter of which was the Red Rose’s last title until 2011.

Duckworth’s international career was cut short by the emerging talent of Kent’s Les Ames, a significantly better batsman, and he hung up his gloves in 1938.

The outbreak of the Second World War curtailed Duckworth’s early foray into journalism, but following the war years his administrative abilities led him to take Commonwealth teams to India, Pakistan and Ceylon between 1949 and 1954.

His Wisden obituary adds: “His jovial personality, wise counsel and experience were of benefit to many a team and individual cricketer.”

However, Duckworth did make the break into broadcast journalism he sought, becoming a renowned commentator on cricket and his beloved rugby league for television and radio.

Duckworth died on January 5, 1966, but his name lives on after the Birchwood Way roundabout was dedicated to him as one of Warrington’s most legendary sporting sons.