Lord’s stalwart Norman de Mesquita has died

Cricket Writers’ Club Secretary JULIAN GUYER pays tribute to one of the club’s colourful members

Norman de Mesquita has died.

De Mesquita, the veteran broadcaster with BBC Radio London best known for his cricket coverage but also a noted ice hockey expert, died at his home in north-west London last week. He was 81.

Norman was the dominant personality in the Lord’s press box, even when the likes of his great mate Peter Byrne and Dicky Rutnagur, neither a shrinking violet, were present as well.

Norman de Mesquita, pictured last year with a prized souvenir from the 1948 London Olympics
Norman de Mesquita, pictured last year with a prized souvenir from the 1948 London Olympics

He could also be quite an intimidating figure and I remember Norman was somewhat less than enamoured of the decision taken by the Press Association to have the new boy from Hayters file on his beloved Middlesex, rather than him. You see, that new boy was me.

But the great thing about Norman was he mellowed once he realised you were serious, which was a huge relief in my case as some of my favourite relations were also his lifelong friends and members of a group who often welcomed reporters trying to work out how much the ball was swinging from a less than ideal vantage point in the Warner Stand to their post at the Nursery End.

It was a particular cruelty that a man renowned for his work as a broadcaster should suffer an illness that so badly affected a voice that was especially familiar to listeners of Radio London. To watch Norman simultaneously score, broadcast and report a match was to be disabused of the notion that men cannot multi-task.

That he managed to recover as much of his speaking voice as he eventually did was a tremendous tribute to his innate determination.

Norman was for many years Wisden’s Middlesex reporter, having succeeded his good friend Terry Cooper in the role. Now there was a double act to behold.

Norman’s other great passion was ice hockey, with his long and varied involvement in that sport culminating in his appointment as Ice Hockey Correspondent of The Times.

If Norman, Dicky and Peter are to be reunited all I can say is good luck to anyone else, including the late CMJ and Frank Keating, when it comes to getting a word in.

Standards mattered to Norman but beneath that stern veneer was a man who relished a laugh in the company of his colleagues, all summed up by that wonderful, almost mischievous, schoolboy grin of his.