- Born 26 November 1934 Pudsey, Yorkshire
- Educated Primrose Hill Secondary Modern School, Pudsey
- Occupation Professional Cricketer; Textile Industry Worker
- Debut 3 September 1966 v MCC at Castle Avenue
- Cap Number 508
- Style Right hand bat; right arm fast medium.
- Teams Farsley, Cork Wanderers, Cork County, YMCA, Phoenix.
Dennis Leng was a strongly built fast medium bowler, with a rich cricket heritage as his background. His birthplace, Pudsey, was also where master batsman Herbert Sutcliffe, double Ashes winning England captains Sir Leonard Hutton, greatest of all Yorkshire batsmen, and Raymond Illingworth, to name but three, first saw the light of day. Dennis' first professional engagement was with Farsley in the Bradford League, a club for whom Illingworth played before and after his first class career. In 1964, Dennis took 48 wickets for them at 20.00, with an economy rate of 2.88. The following summer found him in Cork, playing for Wanderers and Cork County, and, when the Guinness Cup began in 1966, he was an obvious choice to lead the Munster attack.
His interprovincial career lasted until 1971, with a transfer to South Leinster from 1970, when he began playing for YMCA. During these five seasons, he played 26 matches and took 70 wickets at 17.30. These figures included seven "5 fors." He took a wicket in his very first over, dismissing Ulster Town opener, Charlie Corry for a duck and obtained his first five wicket haul against North West two matches later, when his victims included Aubrey Finlay, and future International, Billy Millar. All to little avail, as Scott Huey and Roy Torrens bowled Munster out. 1968 saw him joined in opening the attack by former Birmingham League medium pacer Wally Booton. Together, they made a formidable attack, bowling a strong Ulster Country batting side out for 127, with Wally taking 3-47. Dennis, however had 5-39, including Deryck and Roy Harrison, to say nothing of Alfie Linehan! Regrettably for the Mardyke faithful, the hosts batting collapsed, the visitors winning by 56 runs.
Then following summer saw some remarkable returns. He was unable to prevent a defeat by North West at the Mardyke, as the home batting collapsed after, he had destroyed the visitors batting with 6-45, moving the ball off the wicket and through the air. Later in the season, he was the principal reason for a 31 run victory over South Leinster. Good batting by Leo Durity and Pat Dineen saved Munster from collapse, then Dennis removed leading home batsmen Sandy Smith and Ginger O'Brien, before returning to demolish the tail, and finish with his best figures of 6-33. A further two "5 fors" followed for South Leinster in 1971, his last season.
He also had an impressive bag of victims, taking 4-40, in the "local Derby," with North Leinster in College Park. His haul comprised David Pigot caught behind for 24, David Ensor clean bowled for 0, as was Gerry Murphy for 24. He rounded this off by dismissing Alec O'Riordan! His last two wickets at this level, against Ulster Country, were those of Dermot Monteith and Alfie Linehan, both caught behind by Harry Hill, "the best wicket keeper never to play for Ireland." This was not a bad brace with to end his interprovincial career.
He had also appeared for Munster against the star studded Pakistan International Airlines team at The Mardyke in mid August 1969. He took two wickets in the first innings, including test keeper Wasim Bari.
Dennis played six times for Ireland between 1966 and 1968, as well as the non cap match v International Cavaliers at Sydney Parade in 1969. In the cap matches, he took 11 wickets at 37.36. Some thought that he might have played rather more often, but Ireland was rich in pace bowling at the time with O'Riordan and Dougie Goodwin established as the opening attack, and Torrens and "Podge" Hughes vying for the third seamer spot.
His debut for Ireland was in the MCC match at Castle Avenue in 1966. This was a game that Ireland should have won, the batting collapsing on the final morning to the fast medium Jack Bailey, a former Oxford captain and future MCC Secretary. Dennis was one of his 8-24 haul. Earlier, Dennis had taken 1-36 in the visitors first innings, Ossie Colhoun catching Mike Eagar, Oxford Blue and former Irish cricket and hockey international, for 8. Dennis did not get on in the second innings as O'Riordan, with support from Ivan Anderson's off spin, ran through the visitors to set up what should have been a victory.
The following summer, opening the attack in the absence of O'Riordan, he had 3-60 in the first innings of an exciting draw with Worcestershire at Sydney Parade. He began by removing left handed opener Ron Headley, son of the great George and father of England paceman, Dean for 0. Ron was to be a Test player himself, appearing twice for the Windies in 1973. Dennis other two wickets were both of well known footballers, in the days when it was possible to combine both careers. Middle order bat Ted Hemsley of Sheffield United and Doncaster Rovers, and medium pacer Jim Standen, the last county cricketer to win an FA Cup, the long standing West Ham goal keeper, whose bowling had helped Worcestershire to the Championship in 1964. Missing out on the India match, Dennis returned for the short English tour, but failed to take a wicket v MCC at Lord's.
However at Aldershot v Combined Services, he had his best bowling return for Ireland, with 3-60. His wickets included the hosts captain, Berkshire all rounder DS Williams, and wicket keeper/opening bat John Baskervyle-Glegg, who was to have a distinguished military career, finishing as a Brigadier. The match was drawn, Dennis took no second innings wickets. His last official matches for Ireland were the two Australian matches of 1968. He took two wickets. Left hander Les Joslin, who had a poor tour, having previously gained one Test cap, at Castle Avenue and leading off spinner Ashley Mallett, later to become a well known writer on the game, at Ormeau.
Edward Liddle, June 2008