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over 3 years ago | Interviews


I was at school in Norfolk and got to the stage of doing GCSEs. That year I got picked to play for Norfolk County Cricket Club. At that time the captain was a bloke called Bill Edrich who had finished playing for England and Middlesex. He was still on the Middlesex committee and just on the strength of about three or four games at Norfolk, he recommended me to the Middlesex committee, and on the strength of his recommendation they gave me a three-year contract. It really is a case of being in the right place at the right time. In this day and age you’d have to at least go for a net or a couple of second XI games and a lengthy trial to get a three-year contract. They went on the strength of WJ Edrich’s recommendation.


Gatt [Mike Gatting] and Brears [Mike Brearley] were both top drawer, in different ways. They both won plaudits for their brilliant captaincy, both were Ashes winners. Gatt would lead very much from the front. You always wanted Gatt in the trenches with you, he would lead very much by example. Brears would make you feel part of the team by asking what you thought about the situation. But at the end of the day he would make his own decision. He made you feel as if you were part of it by asking for your advice.


The one I remember the most would be the one against South Africa, the last time they toured [England before their suspension from the ICC]. They’d just come off the back of a win at Trent Bridge [in the second Test against England], and we’d lost five quick wickets. Myself and Fred Titmus put on 227, what was then a record Middlesex sixth-wicket partnership. I remember that one because the South Africans were a very good side. There was Peter Pollock bowling at the speed of light. They took the second new ball and he took it, and I took three fours of that over, I remember. He was very hostile and one of the quickest in the world at that time.


We got 187 [196] and they were coasting at about 125-1 after [Graham] Gooch and [Brian] Hardie had smashed it around the park. But we ended up winning it. If it happened to be a club match I would have probably remembered it, but it happened to be a Benson & Hedges Cup final in front of a full house on the telly and it was amazing how they collapsed. As much as it was a 55-over game, we had everyone around the bat just to try and get a wicket. I caught [Keith] Fletcher out [at silly mid-off] and in 20 years of playing against him I’d never done that – because he was such a good player of spin you never caught him out at short leg or silly mid-off. It was just one of those days where everything went our way and they totally collapsed.


It would probably be the year [1980] we had Wayne Daniel and Vince van der Bijl. He made a difference to any side he played in, Vince van der Bijl. You’ve got him bowling one end, you’ve got Wayne Daniel bowling the other, you’ve got Selve [Mike Selvey] knocking around and spinners of the class of [John] Emburey and [Phil] Edmonds. When you’ve got players of that class and you’re taking your catches, you’re going to be a difficult team to beat.


I played in five Championship-winning sides. We had some wonderful finals at Lord’s – a couple were quite close, a couple were quite easy. Those were the days you used to have the cups presented with all the crowd on the field as well. And then they started presenting it on the balcony where you could see the crowd on the field. Those are the days that you really remember.


In the first 10 years we didn’t have that much success and with the team we had you would have thought we would have had more. I just enjoyed the game all the way through because we were winning games. You can enjoy your cricket if you’re winning games. I remember a game at Swansea where we had a really close game and I probably got nought and one or hardly got any runs at all but still enjoyed the game because we won it. After we got into the swing of things in the Seventies, I can’t remember too many downtimes, really. Obviously you’re disappointed about getting stuffed by Surrey at The Oval when you shouldn’t or the one time at Blackpool when we needed a bonus point and we would have won the Championship instead of sharing it with Kent. You do have your downtimes, particularly when you’re an average player and you’re going through a bad spell and you think your career might be over, but then again you keep going and bounce back, and I enjoyed it right the way through till the end when I finished.

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