Willie Watson is possibly best remembered for a single innings, his superb match-saving century against Australia at Lord's in 1953. In partnership with Bailey he resisted the Australian attack on a worn wicket for over five hours, An opener by preference although often playing down the order in his international appearances, he was a stylish left-hander, and a superb fielder in the covers or outfield. An exceptional athlete, he was one of the last to represent his country at full international level in both cricket and football, playing four games for England in midfield, and being released by Yorkshire in 1950 to travel to Brazil with the England World Cup squad.
He made his debut for Yorkshire Seconds at 17 years old, and despite three successive ducks managed to claim a regular place. Two years later he was in the first team, but the Second World War then intervened and he saw little cricket for the next seven years. After the war he established himself as an opener for Yorkshire but then batted down the order and in 1951 was called into the Test team against South Africa. He was in and out of the Test side over the next seven years, touring the West Indies, Australia and New Zealand, but failed to produce the consistent form that would make him a fixture. On the West Indies tour he produced his highest first-class score of 257 against British Guiana in a partnership of 402 with Tom Graveney. In 1957, with Yorkshire's consent he moved to Leicestershire to take on the post of county secretary and captain. His best year was at Leicester, making 2,253 at an average of 55.3 in 1959. He was a Test selector between 1962 and 1964, whilst still playing. On retirement from Leicestershire he managed Halifax Town and Bradford City in the Football League. In 1968 he emigrated to Johannesburg to become manager and coach at the Wanderers club.
(Article: Copyright © 2001 Dave Liverman)