David Wilson

Born: June 30, 1932;

Died : February 6, 2023

David Wilson, who has died aged 90, was a popular figure in Scottish cricket, the country’s first national coach and later president of the Scottish Cricket Union. As a more than useful batsman and occasional leg break bowler he had more than cut his cricketing teeth in England before joining Clackmannanshire as player/coach in 1972.

With the bat he had a best knock of 127 and in one of his last innings, in his 50s, managed a half century. He captained Huntingdon County Cricket club and also played an occasional game for Warwickshire 2nd XI before accepting he was not quite of professional county cricket standard.

However, he truly made his mark in Scotland as a coach whose extensive technical knowledge was enhanced by his personal qualities as a gifted communicator and mentor with an infectious sense of humour.

He was also a Korean War veteran who saw combat and used to joke that his cricketing skills came to his aid once when he quickly picked up a grenade thrown towards him and threw it straight back.

Dougie Brown, a well-known Scottish and English international player, was one of his protégés after coming under his wing at The Arns, Clackmannanshire’s ground in Alloa and recalled “David was an absolute legend in cricket throughout Scotland. He was great at bringing younger players through, full of positivity, good humour and encouragement. Thanks to him and his contacts I was able to secure a trial with Warwickshire that set up my professional career, he was pivotal to my career.”

David Wilson was born in Handsworth, Birmingham to parents George and Ivy, the middle son of three. His father was a brewer with Mitchell and Butlers for whom he also played cricket locally, previously good enough to have represented England Schools. David attended Handsworth Grammar School where he captained the school team and his love of cricket grew as reflected in one report card, “His deep love of cricket came between David and academic distinction.”

National service soon followed, initially as a signaller in Austria for a year before he volunteered for the Korean conflict, where he went “straight into the trenches,” an unforgettable experience. In 2015 the Korean government invited David and other combatants to return for what proved a memorable visit.

After national service he attended Saltley Teacher Training College in Birmingham while resuming his cricket. About this time he married first wife Sheila with whom he had a daughter Lindsay but the couple later divorced.

He then attended Carnegie College in Leeds where he obtained a physical education qualification and moved to Huntingdon to teach. There in 1965 he met fellow teacher Susan Nicholas from Surrey whom he married in October 1971 in Woking. They enjoyed over 50 years happy and fulfilling marriage during which they had children, Sara and Sam.

Meanwhile David’s cricket career had continued, with him playing an occasional game for Warwickshire 2nd XI and for Huntingdon County Cricket club. He also coached, his potential resulting in an invitation to take part in MCC coaching alongside former greats such as Bill Voce at Lord’s, where he joined the MCC as country member.

In 1972 David and Sue moved to Alloa after he responded to an advertisement by Clackmannanshire for a coach with potential teaching opportunities. He became immersed in the life of the club, playing and coaching while teaching PE at Alloa Academy, Lornshill Academy and Alva Academy.

One of his initiatives was undertaking Easter coaching sessions at Largs while the Sports Council engaged him to travel throughout Scotland hosting sessions as his abilities as coach became widely recognised. He was skilled at ‘teaching teachers’ and while he liked to win, always sought to do so in the proper spirit.

In 1979 he was appointed Scotland’s first National Cricket Coach, a full-time post. Among his wide responsibilities he coached the Scottish Colts and Scottish Junior Colts sides in matches against English and Welsh teams and oversaw national coaching strategy. In 1985 he was instrumental in staging a bicentennial re enactment of the first noted cricket match in Scotland, in 1785 between the Duke of Atholl’s XI and Colonel Talbot’s XI, with the teams appearing in period costume at the match’s original venue at Schaw Park, Alloa. During his 13 years at the helm he made significant contribution to the sport here.

Thereafter he coached for a spell at Hong Kong Cricket Club where his team beat Pakistan, the top ranked side, in a World Cricket 7’s Tournament, before later coaching at Esbjerg, Denmark. In 2000 he was honoured to be appointed president of the Scottish Cricket Union, reflecting the esteem and affection in which he was held, a busy year including a tour to Zimbabwe alongside a variety of engagements.

His interest in cricket continued and latterly he was gratified to be able to attend Test matches at Lord’s to sit at the front in “Death Row”, so named ironically because of the occupants’ ages.

David golfed occasionally at Muckhart and was a gregarious individual. He was a dog lover and enjoyed pub quizzes, wine, and barbeques, especially with accompanying fireworks.

David is survived by his wife, children and grandchildren Emma, Lucy and Matthew.