Bert Lock

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Bert Lock
Personal information
Full name Herbert Christmas Lock
Born (1903-05-08)8 May 1903
East Molesey, Surrey, England
Died 19 May 1978(1978-05-19) (aged 75)
Honor Oak, London, England
Batting Right-handed
Bowling Right-arm medium
Domestic team information
Years Team
1934–1939 Devon
1931–1935 Minor Counties
1926–1932 Surrey
Career statistics
Competition First-class
Matches 35
Runs scored 93
Batting average 4.22
100s/50s –/–
Top score 20*
Balls bowled 6,407
Wickets 81
Bowling average 32.81
5 wickets in innings
10 wickets in match
Best bowling 4/34
Catches/stumpings 10/–
Source: Cricinfo, 18 April 2011

Herbert 'Bert' Christmas Lock (8 May 1903 – 19 May 1978) was an English cricketer and prominent groundsman. Lock was a right-handed batsman who bowled right-arm medium pace. He was born in East Molesey, Surrey.

Playing career[edit]

Lock made his first-class debut for Surrey in the 1926 County Championship against Glamorgan. He played first-class cricket for Surrey from 1926 to 1932, making 32 infrequent appearances.[1] A tailend batsman, Lock scored 89 runs for Surrey in first-class cricket at a batting average of just 4.23.[2] His position within the team was that of a bowler. He took 75 wickets for Surrey at a bowling average of 31.74, although he never took a five wicket haul, with his best figures being 4/34.[3] His best innings bowling figures came against Leicestershire in 1928.[4]

Lock played a handful of first-class matches for other teams besides Surrey. He toured the West Indies with Baron Tennyson's XI in 1927, playing just a single first-class match against Jamaica. He took just a single wicket in the match, that of Charles Morales for the cost of 118 runs.[5] While playing for Surrey, he represented the Second XI in the Minor Counties Championship,[6] which entitled him to represent the Minor Counties cricket team in a first-class match against the touring New Zealanders in 1931. He took 4 New Zealand wickets in their first-innings, those of John Mills, Cyril Allcott, Ken James and Jack Kerr.[7]

Lock joined Devon in 1934, making his debut for the county in the Minor Counties Championship against the Kent Second XI. He continued to play Minor counties cricket for Devon until 1939.[6] While playing for Devon, Somerset and Gloucestershire offered him terms, but Lock joined neither.[8] While playing for Devon he played his second and final first-class match for the Minor Counties against Oxford University.[1] While still a player, Lock stood as an umpire in a single first-class match in 1928 between the Army and the Royal Air Force.[9]

Groundsman and later life[edit]

The Oval, which Lock famously prepared in time for the 1946 season following six years of military use

Lock was for many years the groundsman at the Oval, and was following the Second World War tasked with getting the Oval match ready again following six years of disuse and maltreatment.[10] He gained a reputation as a pioneer of groundskeeping and as one of the best in the world.[8] His career as a groundsman began in 1922 when he was on the groundstaff for the Sandhurst Military College. He joined the Surrey groundstaff in the same year, an association which lasted until 1932 when he joined Devon, becoming their head groundsman at the County Ground, Exeter.[8] The war brought a break in his career as a groundsman, with Lock serving in the Royal Air Force. This was to prove a lucky twist of fate, when in May 1942 a Luftwaffe bomb hit his home, killing a guest staying there and several neighbours.[8] Demobilised in 1945, he returned to the Oval.

During the course of the war the Oval was used by the military. Originally prepared as a prisoner of war camp, the ground never saw this use fulfilled. Instead it was used for anti-aircraft guns, barrage balloons, searchlights and an Army assault course. These had all destroyed the outfield, littering it with barbed wire, pits, cement posts and over 900 wooden posts.[8] Lock started the daunting task of repairing the ground in October 1945, in order to prepare it for the start of the 1946 season in April. Clearing the ground, Lock and his small staff levelled the playing field, resoiled it and finally laid some 45,000 turfs, working from dawn till dusk.[8] They successfully achieved their aim and the ground was prepared in time for the 1946 season.

Lock continued as Surrey's head groundsman until 1965, seven years after Surrey had been county champions for seven straight seasons follow. He had to give up being a groundsman due to an arthritic hip, which required an operation.[8] He was soon after empoloyed as a sports consultant with Berk Chemicals. He later became the Official Inspector of Pitches for the Test and County Cricket Board.[8] Outside of his work as a groundsman, he ran a course at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. A year before his death, Lock was intending to go into business as a sports turf consultant, but died the following year in Honor Oak, London on 19 May 1978.


  1. ^ a b "First-Class Matches played by Herbert Lock". CricketArchive. Retrieved 18 April 2011. (Subscription required (help)). 
  2. ^ "First-class Batting and Fielding For Each Team by Herbert Lock". CricketArchive. Retrieved 18 April 2011. (Subscription required (help)). 
  3. ^ "First-class Bowling For Each Team by Herbert Lock". CricketArchive. Retrieved 18 April 2011. (Subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ "Surrey v Leicestershire, 1928 County Championship". CricketArchive. Retrieved 18 April 2011. (Subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ "Jamaica v LH Tennyson's XI, 1926/27". CricketArchive. Retrieved 18 April 2011. (Subscription required (help)). 
  6. ^ a b "Minor Counties Championship Matches played by Bert Lock". CricketArchive. Retrieved 18 April 2011. (Subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ "Minor Counties v New Zealanders, 1931". CricketArchive. Retrieved 18 April 2011. (Subscription required (help)). 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (1978 ed.). Wisden. ISBN 0-354-09079-8. 
  9. ^ "Bert Lock as Umpire in First-Class Matches". CricketArchive. Retrieved 18 April 2011. (Subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ "Wisden - Obituaries in 1978". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 

External links[edit]