Tributes paid to title-winning captain Bob Cunnell

January 19, 2023

TRIBUTES have been paid to Bob Cunnell, who has passed away at the age of 80.

Bob was Suffolk’s most successful Minor Counties captain, leading the county to Championship wins in both 1977 and 1979.

He passed away on January 12th after developing pneumonia. Bob had been suffering from advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease in Orwell Nursing home.

Bob, who was born in Ipswich on July 16th 1942 and attended Northgate Grammar School, played club cricket for Ipswich side Browns, Saxmundham and Copdock. He was also a widely-respected cricket coach.

He was the first cricket coach of former Suffolk batter and current Suffolk CCC Chairman Andrew Squire, who said: “Bob or RE, as he was also known, was not only Suffolk’s most successful ever captain, but he was a fine cricketer too.

“Yes, he had some excellent players at his disposal as a captain, but because he was prepared to lose in order to win a game, Suffolk pulled off some remarkable victories under his leadership.

“He was a very good middle-order bat, who was often undefeated as the strength of the Suffolk side coupled with playing two-day cricket, meant he rarely got in early enough to play a longer innings.

“He was also a very good off-spin bowler who complemented the other members of the Suffolk attack.

“Together with his brother Cliff, better known as CJ, the Cunnells were big characters in the Suffolk cricket fraternity.

“Bob will be fondly remembered by all who knew him in cricketing circles and our condolences go out to his family at this sad time.”

Suffolk CCC President Tony Warrington, who played in both Championship-winning sides, said: “Bob was a very good captain both tactically and in managing his team.

“In two-day cricket you have to be prepared to lose in order to win which means you need to take risks and Bob was a risk taker. He would rarely set the opposition more than four runs an over to chase in their second innings to keep them interested and more often than not Suffolk would win.

“As a player he was a stylish and reliable batsman and a very good off spin bowler who probably did not bowl enough.”

Bob made his Suffolk debut in 1960 versus Lincolnshire and went on to play 167 matches in the Minor Counties Championship.

Only fellow former captains Phil Caley (220) and Simon Clements (184) together with the county’s all-time leading wicket-taker Cyril Perkins (181) have made more Minor Counties appearances for Suffolk.

In 262 innings, 56 of which he ended not out, Bob scored 5,376 runs at an average of 26.09. His highest score of 117 not out – his only century – came against Norfolk at Lowestoft’s Denes Oval.

He took 243 wickets with his off spin at an average of 23.03, with best figures of 8 for 14 versus Norfolk, also at Lowestoft.

Bob took five wickets in an innings seven times and ten in a match on one occasion – he ended with 13 in that Norfolk game after claiming 5 for 17 in the first innings. He also took 119 catches.

As well as steering Suffolk to two Minor Counties Championship titles after play-off wins versus Durham, Bob also skippered Suffolk to victory in the 1975 National Cricket Association Cup, where they defeated Shropshire by six runs.

He also captained Suffolk in their Gillette Cup tie away to Sussex in 1979 when they came close to causing a major upset, losing by just two wickets.

Bob taught at Chantry High School in Ipswich for 39 years and received a BT Teacher award for Lifetime Achievement upon his retirement in 2002.

He is survived by his wife Jennie, sister Wendy, son Nick and daughter Sophie and grand-daughter Julia Ann. His brother Cliff passed away in 2016.

Bob Cunnell’s funeral will be held at Seven Hills Crematorium on Thursday, February 16th at 11.15am. Donations in support of Parkinson’s UK can be made via


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