BRIAN Roe, a former Somerset player and long servant of cricket in North Devon, died on Saturday morning aged 75.
A determined, right-handed opening batsman, he played more than 130 first-class matches. But it was arguably his longevity in the game that was most impressive.
Having made his debut for Somerset’s second XI at 15 in 1954, he was still playing for Barnstaple and Pilton in his 70s.
Brian, then 72, topped the batting averages in Division Five of the North Devon League in 2011 when he made 491 runs from 12 innings for Barnstaple’s third XI at 61.38, with a top score of 85 not out. He still holds the record for the highest batting average in Division Two with 148.3 in 1991.
Brian was born in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, in 1939 but raised in Barnstaple and spent most of his life in North Devon. He made his County Championship debut for Somerset in 1957 but played only seven matches in four seasons before finally earning a regular place in 1961 when he appeared 29 times and scored 1,181 runs. He reached the 1,000-run landmark twice more, with a best of 1,552 in 1962.
Brian played 131 first-class matches for Somerset and five for the Combined Services, scoring 5,010 runs at an average of 22.26. He made four centuries and 25 half centuries and took 44 catches. His highest first-class score was 128 against Essex at Brentwood in 1962.
By 1965 he was no longer a regular in the team and left Somerset at the end of the following season, returning to Barnstaple.
He represented Devon in the Minor Counties Championship in the early 1970s and played for a number of clubs in North Devon, in both indoor and outdoor cricket, before settling at Barnstaple.
He holds the record for the most runs scored in a single summer in club cricket with 4,034 in 64 innings in 1980 at an average of 126.06.
In their 2006 book Sixty Summers: Somerset Cricket Since The War, authors David Foot and Ivan Ponting said: “He relished opening the innings and worked hard for his four centuries.
“His team-mates valued his resolute approach. As he said, ‘This isn’t an easy game. Out in the middle, if a bloke can get my wicket, good luck to him. I’m there to stop him’.”
Brian was popular with his team-mates. Somerset’s Ken Palmer said: “His commentary, his ribbing and his jokes made a hard day much easier.”
A number of clubs and individuals have paid tribute to Brian on Twitter.
Rip Brian Roe a ture legend of the game to all cricketers in and around North Devon will be missed by many #devoncricket
— BarnstaplePiltonCC (@bpccnews) June 28, 2014
Will miss all the story's from my mate mr Brian roe walking around the pitch at Raleigh meadow rip beams never forgotten
— shaun cole (@shauncole7) June 28, 2014
Sad news all of us at BCC would like to pass on our condolences to the family & friends of Brian Roe a great cricketer & friend of the club.
— Braunton CricketClub (@BrauntonCC) June 28, 2014
RIP Brian Roe,one of cricket's great sons,for whom the game was a philosophy.I learnt so much from him just by being on the same field!
— Peter Wright (@GourouxPete) June 28, 2014
NDCC would like to offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Brian Roe who has joined the Elysium cricket fields.
— NDCC (@instowcricket) June 28, 2014