Doug Insole was probably better known for his influence on cricket after the end of his playing days rather than his exploits on the field. He was however, a fine batsman, who made over 50 first-class hundreds and had a modest Test career. His method as a batsman was unorthodox, with an open stance, and a dominant bottom hand. This made him vulnerable to the ball moving away from him, but an excellent eye, combined with great concentration and tenacity, made him a successful batsman. He adapted his methods according to the state of the game well, but his natural inclination was to score at a fast rate. An excellent slip fielder, occasional wicket-keeper, he was also an outstanding leader. He honed his captaincy skills at Cambridge in 1949, and took over the leadership of Essex from T.N.Pearce the following year. Essex finished bottom of the Championship that year, but over the next decade became a force in the Championship, in no small part due to Insole's influence. He understood the game well, and was popular with his players. He bowled occasional medium pace, and was good enough to take 138 first-class wickets.
His Test career consisted of nine matches spread over seven years. He made his debut against the West Indies in 1950, but twice was dismissed cheaply by Ramadhin as England were defeated heavily. Five years later he was given a second opportunity against South Africa, and played a single Test against Australia in 1956, without notable success. He was chosen as vice-captain of the England tourists visiting South Africa in 1956, and topped the England Test batting averages. He made an important century in the Third Test, and England won the series. He played for England just once more, making a duck in his final Test innings against West Indies in 1957. He continued to play for Essex until his retirement in 1963, having at that point made centuries against all the first-class counties other than his own, with over 25,000 first-class runs.
He served cricket with considerable distinction after his playing career (earning the CBE). He was on the MCC committee for over twenty years, and an England selector for nineteen. Notably he was chairman of the Test and County Cricket Board at the time of the Packer "crisis", and led English cricket through a difficult time with much common sense. He also managed the 1978/79 England tour of Australia, and became chairman of the European Cricket Council.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)