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MONDAY 4 MARCH 2024

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Cricket star writer Pat Gibson dies aged 81

By PETER TOZER

Pat Gibson, who was a much-respected cricket correspondent of the Daily Express, followed by an innings at the Sunday title, has died aged 81.


Having crossed the Street from the Mail to the Daily Express as a sports sub in the early 1970s, Pat soon moved to reporting and was appointed by Ken Lawrence in the mid 1970s to follow the legendary Crawford White as cricket correspondent; it might have been a tough act to follow but Pat was more than equal to the task. He had a lucid, thoughtful writing style from which it could be difficult for a stone sub to cut a line or two in the days of hot metal.


Pat was presented with plenty to go at with the emergence of Ian Botham and then the breathtaking Ashes series of 1981. There was good copy to be had from diverse figures such as Bob Willis, Geoff Boycott and Mike Brearley in the team. Interestingly, Gibbo reckoned Boycott was the easier company of the two “Bs” because he could make him laugh, but not Brearley.


When Lawrence “moved upstairs” to edit the Sunday sports pages in the mid eighties, Pat followed him. However, his tenure there ended abruptly with the arrival of Eve Pollard as editor; ridiculously, she preferred to employ the non-journalist David Gower as her cricket writer.


However, Gibbo remained in the Press box as a contract writer for The Times, mostly chronicling the County Championship, with one keen eye on the cricket and the other on the Telegraph crossword. The precise word was always important to him in his dream job. He wanted to be honest to the players he wrote about as well as true to his employers, which meant his copy was rarely early. But that didn’t really matter as it could be quickly ticked up and sent “down the hole.”


Socially, he and I frequently enjoyed a pint with David Emery, also recently sadly departed, at a variety of Surrey pubs where old Fleet Street tales were greatly hyperbolised (I hope that’s a word) and embellished. Pat would chuckle and interject with “Now that’s not quite right”.


Pat Gibson passed away in Guildford Hospital on November 23. He is survived by his wife Enid, their son Sean and two granddaughters. Enid, whom he met when both were rookie local paper journalists in Nottingham, much enjoyed joining Pat for a sunshine break on his working Caribbean cricket tours. 


*The Cricket Writers’ Club, of which Pat was chairman for six years, has also posted a tribute on its site.


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28 November 2023