Danny Hall Column: 40 years on, remembering the day snow stopped play at the cricket in Buxton

Buxton's infamous snowed off county cricket match, June 1975, Lancashire players Peter Lever, Clive Lloyd, Frank Haynes and David Lloyd with umpire Dickie Bird
Buxton's infamous snowed off county cricket match, June 1975, Lancashire players Peter Lever, Clive Lloyd, Frank Haynes and David Lloyd with umpire Dickie Bird

Clive Lloyd is one of the West Indies’ greatest-ever batsmen. He was one of the game’s greatest ever captains, too; standing at an imposting 6ft 5in, with a unmistakable mostache and trademark glasses he had been forced to wear since damaging his eyes breaking up a fight in school, aged 12.

He inspired his country to dominate world cricket for almost two decades, during a stellar career which has led him to West Indies’ chief selector. But amongst the centuries and countless Test victories, Lloyd will forever remember the day he visited the sleepy Derbyshire town of Buxton to play for Lancashire.

Les Payne - formerly of The Star parish - hung up his quill last year, after seemingly covering Rotherham United since the day football was formed.

But his knowledge and love of sport remains undiminished. He got in touch on Tuesday, the final day of the England v New Zealand Test at Headingley, to recognise the 40th anniversary of that game, when Derbyshire hosted Lancashire in a low-key affair back in 1975.

The only remarkable thing on the first day was Lancashire’s 477-5 in their first innings, from their 100 allotted overs. That would be an impressive score in 2015, but in 1975 it was almost unheard of. Lloyd smashed 167 not out.

On the second, Derbyshire were 25-2 when, first, the clouds came. Then the rain. Then, inexplicably, came snow. It was June 2.

Buxton looked like a scene from a Christmas card but Lloyd was in his element; he’d never seen snow before. He made the most of it, enjoying a snowball fight with Indian wicketkeeper Farokh Engineer.

Lloyd, staying with Lancashire in the Old Railway Hotel, said: “I pulled back the curtains and there was snow everywhere. I was rubbing my eyes in disbelief.

“I think I’m right in saying there are no ski resorts in Guyana, so I had never really seen snow before.

“I glimpsed it through a window in Moscow one night in 1966 when we refuelled there on the way to India, but I’d never made a snowball in my own hands.”

Derbyshire returned for the final day of the game expecting an abandonment. The legendary Dickie Bird was in charge, and told them to get on with it.

On a rock-hard pitch which had been left uncovered during the blizzard, Derbyshire were first bowled out for 42 in just under an hour, then made 87 second time round to slip to their heaviest defeat of the century - an innings and 348 runs.

Fast bowler Peter Lever, who had almost killed a New Zealand batsman with a bouncer the year before, refused to bowl anything above medium pace. He still took five wickets.

Ashley Harvey-Walker walked out to bat, wrapped his false teeth in a handkerchief and handed them to Bird. His ‘real’ set had been knocked out recently and he didn’t fancy that again. He was out three balls later.

Exactly a week later, the Daily Mail sent a reporter to Buxton in the hope of a similar scene. Instead, spectators were “stripped to the waist in the sunshine” as temperatures reached 75 degrees.

Derbyshire moved out of Buxton in 1990. But it will always have a special place in history. And, it would seem, in the heart of Clive Lloyd.