Don Bennett: Middlesex mourn former player and coach

Don Bennett
Bennett played 392 first-class games for Middlesex and won seven County Championship titles as a coach (including one shared)

Former Middlesex player and coach Don Bennett has died at the age of 80.

Wakefield-born Bennett, a middle-order batsman and fast-medium bowler, made his first-class debut for the county aged 16 against Lancashire in 1950.

He went on to play 392 first-class games for the first XI, scoring over 10,000 runs and taking 748 wickets.

After retiring Bennett became Middlesex coach in 1969 and won seven County Championship titles, one of them shared, before leaving the job in 1997.

Bennett, who passed away on Thursday, also served as Middlesex president between 2007 and 2009.

On Friday, the Middlesex flag flew at half mast in place of the Marylebone Cricket Club flag from the Lord's Clock Tower on the second day of the England v Sri Lanka Test match.

Bennett was a fixture in the Middlesex side from 1951 to 1965, passing 1,000 runs in 1953 and 1955 and regularly taking more than 50 wickets in a season.

In 1964, he made the highest of his four centuries, an unbeaten 117 against Yorkshire, and his best bowling figures came in 1956 when he took 7-47 against Sussex at Hove.

After retiring from cricket in 1968 Bennett became hugely successful as a coach.

Don Bennett, back row on left, with Middlesex's 1982 County Championship-winning squad
Bennett, back row on left, with the Middlesex squad in 1982 which won the County Championship

With Mike Brearley as captain, Middlesex won the title in 1976, 1980 and 1982, and shared it with Kent in 1977.

Three more titles followed in 1985, 1990 and 1993 under the captaincy of Mike Gatting.

The club also won seven limited-overs trophies during Bennett's time as coach.

A Middlesex statement said Bennett "will long be remembered as one of the club's finest ambassadors".

It continued:external-link "Don Bennett goes down in history as one of Middlesex's most celebrated servants.

"His loss will be mourned by all at the club, many of whom will fondly remember him, and our deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends at this terribly sad time."

Bennett was also a footballer who was on Arsenal's books between 1951 and 1958, playing for the second team, and then moved to Coventry City, where he made 73 appearances over three seasons.

Don Bennett, seated on ground bottom right, with the Arsenal squad ahead of the 1950-51 season
Bennett, seated on the ground bottom right, spent eight years on the books at Arsenal FC