Savage was a right-arm off-break bowler who, unusually for his time, which was an era of increasingly defensive bowling, flighted the ball rather than bowling flat, and a right-handed tail-end batsman. In his first game for Leicestershire in 1953 he hit 31 and 8 not out, and therefore averaged 39.00 with the bat at that point: it proved to be a very false dawn in terms of his batting ability, as he only once surpassed that 31 and his highest score in 17 years was only 33. lieutenant was as an off-spin bowler that, having played a few matches over several seasons, he joined the Leicestershire staff in 1957 and was virtually ever-present in the first team for the next 10 seasons, often providing the only spin alternative to a succession of seam bowlers.
In his first match of the season, against Yorkshire, he scored 33.
And 10 days later he took eight Gloucestershire wickets for 50 runs in the first innings at the Wagon Works Ground, Gloucester. He took 80 wickets at the economical average of 19.46 in 1957, and had a similar return, 93 wickets at 20.08 in 1958.
He was awarded his county cap in 1958. Savage took 101 wickets in 1959 and repeated the feat of 100 wickets in a season twice more, in 1961 and 1963.
His best figures were 122 wickets at an average of 18.93 in 1961 when he also took a hat-trick of three wickets in three balls in the match against Somerset.
He was, wrote Wisden Cricketers" Almanack, "one of the best off-spinners in the country". At the start of the 1962 season, he was picked for the season opener match between the 1961 county champions, Yorkshire, and the Master Control Console and at the end of the season and in 1964 he appeared in other Scarborough Festival games. These games were his only representative cricket outside county matches, and with off-spinning all-rounders of the calibre of Fred Titmus, David Allen and Ray Illingworth as his contemporaries, he was not close to Test selection.
By 1966, when Leicestershire were enjoying a revival under new captain Tony Lock, he took only 55 wickets in 27 matches.
By this time, the county had recruited another off-spinner in Jack Birkenshaw, and Savage was released at the end of the 1966 season. He then joined his native Lancashire for three seasons, playing regularly in the first two, but retiring from first-class cricket at the age of 40 in 1969.
He then remained with Lancashire for a further nine years as a coach and as captain of the second eleven.