A small, somewhat frail man whose poor eyesight required him to play in spectacles, Charles Palmer was a fine bat, whose strong wrists allowed him to play forcing shots round the wicket, and was also a useful medium paced bowler. He made his debut just before the Second world War, and lost important years. Initially playing for Worcestershire (and also for Bombay Europeans in Indian domestic competition in 1946), he moved to Leicestershire in 1950 as club secretary, and captain. He led the county to their highest Championship finish ever - sixth - in 1952, and surpassed this with third the following year. He was selected to tour the West Indies in 1953/54, and played his single Test, making an entertaining 22 as England adopted passive tactics against the West Indies spinners. It was a difficult tour, and Palmer's appointment was described by E.W.Swanton as "just about the worst decision ever to come out of Lord's". Swanton also described Palmer as "charming, easy going and tolerant", and by no means the ideal man to deal with the numerous discipline problems that plagued the touring party. Palmer returned to the easier world of English county cricket, and in 1955 produced his best bowling in one of the more remarkable spells in history. Going on to allow his main bowlers to change ends, he bowled Peter May, and proceeded to take the next seven wickets without conceding a run (7 out of 8 bowled). If a difficult catch had been accepted, he would have finished with figures of 9 for 0 - but eventually returned 14-12-8-7. Overall he was more of a bat than a bowler, with 33 first-class centuries in his career, including two in the show-piece Gentlemen - Players match.
In retirement he continued to serve cricket, as chairman of Leicestershire, an MCC committee member, and as MCC President in 1978-1979.
(Article: Copyright © 2003 Dave Liverman)