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MEMORIES OF ALAN MOSS BY ANGUS FRASER

Memories of Alan Moss

"I don’t know how good a bowler Alan Moss was. He retired before I was born and I have never watched any footage of him bowl. All I have seen is the occasional black and white picture of him in full flow. But his magnificent record for Middlesex – 1,088 wickets at an average of 19.81 - and good one for England – 24 wickets @ 29.41 in nine Tests – suggests he was a bloody good one.

"As a young man he was tall, athletic and, I would imagine, aggressive. Mossy told me he had a good action and I could envisage him being quite an intimidating proposition when he was in his pomp, sprinting in from the Pavilion End at Lord’s and hitting an awkward length.

"What I do know, however, is what a wonderfully loyal, proud and committed man Mossy was. And it was these strong and valuable characteristics that he brought to Middlesex during the almost 50 years of service he gave the Club. Each sporting club is unique. Without knowing, every club has the fingerprints of previous servants all over it and Alan Moss’ are all over Middlesex CCC. He is the clubs DNA and one of the principle reasons why it has the standing and is respected as much as it is.

"Even though I replaced his son, Graham, on the Middlesex staff I always got on very well with Mossy. It was probably because we were two grumpy, fastish bowlers that didn’t care much for batsmen. I loved his honesty, his strength, and his mischievous sense of humour. A business life that included dealings and battles with Robert Maxwell meant he didn’t suffer fools for long or take a backward step when confronted. If you had Mossy on your side you knew that your back was covered.

"And I have been fortunate to have such cover during most of my working life. Mossy was always one of the few people I turned to when I needed advice. I sought it when I struggled with injury as a player, when I retired from playing to become the cricket correspondent with The Independent and when I returned to my current role as Managing Director of Cricket at Middlesex. On each occasion he never let me down.

"There are many Mossy stories I could tell and my first recollection of him came during a heated pre-season meeting in the home dressing room at Lord’s in 1987. Middlesex had won the county championship in 1985 but were poor in 1986, finishing 16th in, the then, 17 team league and 10th in the Sunday League. We had also crashed out of the B&H Cup and NatWest Trophy in the early rounds.

Mossy was Treasurer of Middlesex at the time and, needless to say, the squad had not been given much of a pay rise. Phil Edmonds, never a person to turn down a challenge or confrontation, had taken it upon himself to represent the senior players who, after several good years, felt let down by this decision.

"In the meeting Mossy, in no uncertain terms, told us that what we had produced in 1986 was totally unacceptable. As one of the young cricketers I was just keeping my head down and hoping that he wouldn’t look at me. After around 10 minutes Edmonds interrupted Mossy and said; ‘Alan, I have a suggestion.’ Mossy said: ‘and what that might be Philip?’ Edmonds then said: ‘I suggest you leave the dressing room for a minute, have a think about what you have just said and then return, because you have come in here today with completely the wrong attitude.’ I remember just sitting there and thinking; ‘Oh my god, get me out of here, at this rate we will all be sacked by lunchtime.’

"Mossy didn’t take too kindly to Philip’s interruption and a somewhat lively debate followed. It was like witnessing two huge stags rutting. But to be fair to Mossy and Philip, neither got personal or lost control. It ended as amicably as it could but we didn’t get a pay rise.

"Mossy loved bowling and bowlers. Being one he particularly liked tall, fastish bowlers. He was always willing to help, to come to watch you bowl in practice and to give advice. He was good with me, as he was with Steven Finn at the start of his career. I remember little things he’d say about injury: ‘If your backs sore go and kick a door as that will take the pain away from your back,’ was one of them. He got me working on a building site one winter after I had back problems during a season. He thought I needed toughening up, and I probably did. A winter in the concrete gang at BBC Shepherds Bush with NorWest Holst did just that.

"He was on the General Committee when I returned to Middlesex and his support during difficult periods was much appreciated. If he felt someone was being unreasonable, showing off or deliberately difficult with their questioning he would quickly knock them down or put them in their place. At the end of the meeting he’d come to check I was okay.

"Mossy never looked for sympathy as he became older and frailer. The years of bowling had taken their toll and he used to laugh at himself and the issues he had. The last time I saw him was at JT Murray’s funeral in August last year. He wasn’t well then and Sonia, his beautiful wife, was helping him get around. He didn’t like being pushed everywhere in a wheelchair. In the conversation we had he was only interested in my welfare and how things were at Middlesex. Not making the effort to see him during the winter is something I regret.

"Even so it is with a smile that I look back at my relationship with Mossy. Others may have scored more runs and taken more wickets for Middlesex CCC but few, if any, have given more time and thought to the Club. Mossy loved his wine, particularly red, and I will be drinking a glass of something special this weekend and making a quiet toast to a very special man and one of the true greats of Middlesex cricket. "

Angus Fraser

Managing Director of Cricket

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