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BS: Cricket characters

The Sandman 05 Mar 21 - 03:59 AM
The Sandman 05 Mar 21 - 04:00 AM
GUEST,Sean O'Shea 05 Mar 21 - 05:58 AM
Steve Gardham 05 Mar 21 - 08:30 AM
Steve Shaw 05 Mar 21 - 09:51 AM
Raggytash 05 Mar 21 - 10:06 AM
The Sandman 05 Mar 21 - 10:58 AM
Steve Shaw 05 Mar 21 - 11:21 AM
The Sandman 05 Mar 21 - 01:02 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Mar 21 - 06:37 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 05 Mar 21 - 07:06 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 05 Mar 21 - 07:15 PM
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Subject: Cricket characters
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 03:59 AM

please feel free to contribute cricketers that entertained and had their charming eccentricities Ihad the good forune to see him play once
1 BomberWells One of county cricket's great characters, he bowled with no run up

Bryan "Bomber" Wells, the former Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire off-spinner who has died aged 77, was one of county cricket's genuine comic figures - in the physical way he played the game, and with the dry wit he imparted to many a captive audience for years afterwards. As a bowler himself, well fleshed and uncoordinated, he put the crowds in good mood with his quirky approach to the game and to authority in general.

Gloucestershire already had two off-spinners of Test calibre, John Mortimore and David Allen, but they still gambled at times by playing Bomber as well. His method came from no bowler's manual; he claimed he used the palm of his hand almost as much as his fingers. He didn't believe in run-ups. He might settle for one, two or three paces, sometimes none at all. "I liked to take the batsman by surprise," he would say.

He was rarely a man in a hurry, yet the speed with which he got through an over would irritate one captain in particular, Sir Derrick Bailey. "Play the game sensibly for heaven's sake. You're making it a mockery with that sort of token run-up," the skipper would rasp. The Wells response was extreme, insubordinate or funny, according to one's point of view. With great deliberation, he paced back another five or so steps and then tossed the ball at the other wicket from 27 or 28 yards. Those who watched swore it was on a perfect length. He also liked to throw leg-breaks into his mix - something else that irked Sir Derrick.

In all Wells took 998 wickets. Three times he passed 100 wickets in a season, well served by his close fielders and the sadly unfulfilled Peter Rochford, rated by Bomber as the county's finest wicket-keeper. He played from 1951 to 1959 for his native county, taking 544 wickets.

Wells came from Gloucester, and made his county debut against Sussex on a day's notice because Tom Goddard was ill and Sam Cook injured. He was badly prepared, having to borrow kit from his mates. He travelled to Bristol that day on the bus and arrived, with not much time to spare, clutching a bottle of lemonade and a doughnut. Sussex had only lost one wicket by lunch, but he went on to take half a dozen; his first victim was David Sheppard.

Although offered a new contract with Gloucestershire in 1960, and by then captaining the 2nd XI, the appeal of Trent Bridge for Wells was irresistible and he stayed with Nottinghamshire until 1965.

Despite his jokey exterior, he had strong views about the game and society; in the dressing room, he took on the reactionaries with his political opinions. His dad had worked the mills and barges, and it was a Labour party family background. Bomber had served a printer's apprenticeship, and he continued to pursue the craft in the winter months. As a rugby referee, he surprised his pals by an unlikely martinet approach. He claimed to have sent off "nearly 30 players, eight of them in one match" while remaining friends with the offenders afterwards.

His affection for the printed word persisted and he featured in two memoirs, Well Well, Wells (1982), written by himself, and One More Run (2000), with Stephen Chalke. His first wife died and he leaves his second, Mary.

Stephen Bates writes ... Bomber Wells was the most remarkable bowler I ever played with in 30 years of club cricket, when he turned out a couple of times for BBC commentator Pat Murphy's team in Leicestershire in the mid-1980s. Seemingly almost as wide as he was tall - and by then in his 50s - he stood at the wicket without a run-up and flicked vicious off-spin of startling variety and pace at the local batsmen, some balls turning an inch, others by a foot or more.

He told us proudly that he'd coached a bowler at his Nottingham league side also to dispense with a run-up, and together they bamboozled other sides by getting through their overs so fast that opponents' 40-over innings were completed in just over an hour.

Bomber had a famous aversion to running singles when he batted, and his county career was littered with the run-outs of his partners. On this occasion, I had scored about 40 when he strolled to the wicket as last man in. If not winning the match, we were certainly saving it. I immediately hit a ball to midwicket for an easy single, called for the run and found myself at the bowler's end, with Bomber waiting for me. "Oi'm not runnin' for that," he said. "'Ee dun you in the floight." I nearly got back to the other end before being run out.

· Bryan "Bomber" Douglas Wells, cricketer, born July 27 1930; died June 16 2008


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Subject: RE: Cricket characters
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 04:00 AM

apologies could a mod put this below the belt


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Subject: RE: Cricket characters
From: GUEST,Sean O'Shea
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 05:58 AM

I always put vinegar on cheese on toast.


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Subject: RE: Cricket characters
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 08:30 AM

Dick
My eldest grandson's middle name is Hedley after Hedley Verity the famous Yorkshire bowler who died in Italy in WWII.


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Subject: RE: BS: Cricket characters
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 09:51 AM

When I were a little lad I used to go with me dad to the Racecourse ground in Radcliffe to watch Radcliffe Borough, who played in the Central Lancashire League. Each club hired a professional, and Radcliffe, at various times, got Frank Worrell, Sonny Ramadhin and Garfield Sobers, among others, when they were at their peak but out of season in their native lands. Everton Weekes had a terraced house in our street, about 25 yards down from our house, and he and the above-named, among many others, held rather raucous parties there. That didn't always go down well with the non-cricket-loving white neighbours... Wow, how times have changed...

Sir Frank died very young but Lady Worrell lived on in Radcliffe for many years and was a familiar local face about town.

Gary Sobers, when he wasn't batting (and getting a century), or when he wasn't bowling (and taking nine wickets) would field on the boundary and you could be six feet away from him. What a treat for this little lad! He was always very animated, giving everything, and it was wonderful to hear him screaming out his appeals in a very high-pitched voice, 'OWISSEEEE!


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Subject: RE: BS: Cricket characters
From: Raggytash
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 10:06 AM

Sonny Ramadhin used to run the White Lion pub in Delph on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border.


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Subject: RE: BS: Cricket characters
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 10:58 AM

Keith Pont bicycles across cricket ground while fielding
Keith Pont was an extremely popular character during his playing days because of his on-field antics, but on this day he surpassed even himself.
By Abhishek Mukherjee        

| Updated : July 3, 2016 1:02 AM IST

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Keith Pont was quite a character in his heydays © Getty Images
Keith Pont was quite a character in his heydays © Getty Images

On July 3, 1972, Keith Pont bicycled across the ground while fielding for Essex during a major chunk of the Derbyshire innings. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at one of the strangest acts by a fielder.

Keith Rupert Pont hailed from a family of sportspeople. His brother Ian Leslie Pont played for Essex as well (he also holds the record for the second-longest distance to which a cricket ball was hurled; threw the javelin over the Olympic qualifying distance; and had tryouts as a pitcher for New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies); another brother Kelvin played for Essex Second XI.

But this story is about the carefree Keith Pont. An all-rounder, Pont played for Essex from 1970 to 1986, and was an extremely popular character because of his on-field antics. On that day at Ind Coope Ground, Burton-on-Trent, however, he took things to another level. It was even more remarkable given that it was Pont’s seventh First-Class match, and he had not even received an Essex cap till then.

Day One: Essex restricted to 222

David Wilde struck early twice before Bob Taylor decided to bat. Keith Boyce, walking out at No. 5, flailed his willow to score a lusty 44 before falling to Mike Hendrick, while Brian Ward held up an end, helping Essex crawl along. Hendrick and Wilde contained the lower order as Ian Buxton kept on striking with his medium-paced bowling.

At 157 for 8 things looked a bit precarious for Essex, but Robin Hobbs batted grittily; Ray East and John Lever supported him well, and Essex eventually recovered to 222. Hendrick, Wilde, and Buxton shared all ten wickets between them. Peter Gibbs and Ian Hall saw things off until stumps as Derbyshire finished exactly 200 runs behind Essex.

Day Two: Pont bikes amidst Boyce-Lever onslaught

Gibbs (50) and Hall (49) gave Derbyshire a surprisingly good start, adding 95 for the opening stand. However, once Boyce and Lever began to strike, Derbyshire had no option but to bat out all day. They batted on and on, but could not capitalise on the opening stand; Buxton was the only other man to go past 15 as they were skittled out for 193 at stumps.

Meanwhile, Taylor, for some reason, was making Pont run from third-man to fine-leg if there was a right-left combination at the crease. It was not the coldest of days, and the course of play was dreary; Pont, bubbling in the vigour of his youth, did a few jogs from one end to the other. Then fatigue, and more importantly, boredom crept in.

A desperate Pont asked a spectator for his bicycle. Having acquired that, Pont kept on cycling between his positions, parking the vehicle just outside the boundary line once he reached there. This led to a general hilarity among his Essex teammates, who got an idea of the character that Pont was.

Day Three: More of Boyce

Essex needed quick runs on the last day, and Keith Fletcher rose to the occasion. Graham Saville played a cameo, but Fletcher took control once Essex were reduced to 68 for 3. Boyce was in the mood as well: he equalled his first innings effort of 44 (he had also taken 4 for 61). Fletcher eventually fell for 80 just before Taylor declared the innings closed, exactly 200 ahead.

Once again Boyce came into action, jolting Derbyshire with the early blow. Things looked under control at 62 for one, and even at 116 for 3, but once Boyce came back to have Ashley Harvey-Walker Derbyshire started sinking. They lost their last 7 wickets for 43 and lost by 41 runs.

What followed?

The anecdote is often attributed to East. However, to be fair to the rumour-mongers, East was another great character from the Essex team of the 1970s. In some versions Keith Fletcher is often named as the captain. In some other versions it is mentioned that the incident was an outcome of a punishment dished out to the fielder.

However, East himself put rest to all doubts at the Cricket Society Annual Spring Dinner, 2013. Philip Reeves reported: “Ray was asked about the infamous bike story. He revealed that the story was true but it was not him on the bike. It was at Burton-on-Trent and a young Keith Pont was situated on the third-man boundary and had to jog over to fine-leg every time a single was scored. It was a very slow day and Pont borrowed a spectator’s bicycle and duly cycled between third-man and fine-leg much to the amusement of the players.”

B


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Subject: RE: BS: Cricket characters
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 11:21 AM

Ah, Delph! It was up there, in about 1971, back of me dad's steamed-up Vauxhall Viva, just off the remote country road somewhere, that I first gave a girl an...


(Stoppit, Stephen, it's supposed to be a bloody cricket thread...)


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Subject: RE: BS: Cricket characters
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 01:02 PM

Bryan 'Bomber' Wells

Off-spin bowler with Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire who was celebrated for his eccentricities and took 998 first-class wickets

8:46PM BST 10 Jul 2008 Daily Telegraph Obituaries

Bryan "Bomber" Wells who has died aged 77, was an off-spin bowler for Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire, and one of the funniest and most eccentric county cricketers of the 1950s and 1960s.

Overweight and undertrained, Bomber Wells could hardly have looked less like a professional sportsman. This unathletic impression was confirmed by his bowling run-up, or rather his lack of run-up. As he himself explained, he took two steps when he was cold and one when he was hot; and sometimes he simply delivered the ball from a stationary position.

Bomber was ordered to start his run from eight paces back. He obeyed but then bowled the ball – spot on to a length – after taking only a couple of paces. "Sir Derrick went berserk," Bomber recalled with satisfaction. "He dropped me for two matches, but it was worth it."

Inevitably, many batsmen were unprepared for Bomber's delivery. Playing as a young man for the Gloucestershire Nondescripts against Witney, he bowled out a batsman called Len Hemming, who was immediately called back as he had not seemed to be ready.

With the next ball Bomber bowled him out again. "If you think I'm staying here for him to get his bloody hat-trick," Hemming told the fielders, "you've got another think coming."

Years later Hemming was asked about this story. "I've no recollection of it at all," he said, "but I'm all in favour of it."

Playing against Essex in the county championship, Wells encountered a young amateur who stepped away from the crease whenever he began to bowl.

So, in Bomber's own words, "I ran all the way round the square, past mid-on, square leg, behind the 'keeper, back to mid-off, and I shouted, 'Are you ready now?' And I bowled him first ball."

These, and many other stories about Bomber Wells are to be found in Stephen Chalke's wonderfully evocative memoir, One More Run (2000). The book also makes it clear, however, that Bomber Wells was a very fine bowler.

Oddly for such a thickset man, he had small hands, and seemed to spin the ball from the palm rather than the fingers.

"He was the only bowler I've ever seen," remembered his Gloucestershire colleague Arthur Milton, "that made the ball pitch further up to you than it looked. He had such a quick arm action that the ball would be on you, half a yard further up than you thought."

Many batsmen were trapped LBW on the back foot. It was Wells's misfortune, though, that in his time Gloucestershire had two other fine off-spinners in John Mortimore and David Allen, both of whom played for England. In order to be sure of regular county championship cricket Wells moved to Nottinghamshire in 1960.

Yet his bowling average for Gloucestershire – 544 wickets at 21.18 each – was better than either Mortimore's (1,696 wickets at 22.69) or Allen's (882 wickets at 22.13). Many county cricketers, including so hardened a professional as Brian Close, felt that Wells's unpredictability made him the most dangerous of the three.

He was always changing his pace, and would mix off-spin with away swingers and leg breaks. "It used to bore me silly to bowl two balls the same," he said.

What counted against him in some eyes was his inability to be anything but his own man, or to play the game for any other reason but enjoyment. A man capable, during tense moments on the field, of creeping up behind his fiercely disciplinarian county captain George Emmett in the dressing room and saying "Boo", was never going to be entirely acceptable in the grim grind of professional cricket.

Bryan Douglas Wells was born in Gloucester on July 27 1930 into a radical Socialist household. His father, ostracised after leading a strike at the local Wagon Works (which made coaches and trucks for the railways) worked on the barges. Though calm enough at home, he would, as Bryan recalled, "fight the world" when he had been drinking. His wife, for her part, fought injustice by giving away her last penny to whomsoever elicited her sympathy. Bomber would be a lifelong member of the Labour Party.

The family lived in New Street, Gloucester, a road of two-up, two-down terrace houses. A peculiar system of nomenclature prevailed among the Wells: Bryan was called "Bronc"; his older brothers David and Geoffrey were addressed as Jerry and John, while his sister Jean was known as Sally. The nickname "Bomber" was bestowed on Bryan in homage to the boxer Bombardier Billy Wells.

Bryan grew up to hear his father and brothers talking about Gloucestershire cricket; no one doubted that Walter Hammond was the greatest batsman who had ever lived. Later, in 1951, Bryan would play in Hammond's last match for Gloucestershire. Alas, the maestro, long, long past his prime, scraped around for a miserable seven.

Wells first played cricket in New Street, using a tennis ball and a makeshift bat. Windows were frequently broken; to acquire glass to replace the shattered panes, he and his friends used to buy huge Victorian pictures for a song at the local junk shop: "we had enough prints of shaggy Highland cattle to open an art gallery."

At St Paul's Elementary School Bryan took part in a trial for a cricket match, and found himself reprimanded for hitting the ball out of the playground. His attitude to batting never changed. He had one shot – the slog. "If I hit the ball," Bomber explained, "it went a long way and the crowd and I were happy. If I missed it, well, I was that much nearer bowling."

Team mates were frequently driven to fury by his running between the wickets. "Can't you say anything?" Sam Cook once shouted, stranded in mid-pitch by Bomber's failure to call. "Goodbye," Bomber volunteered.

Though there was little cricket at Linden Road Secondary School, the headmaster lent a bat which the boys used for knock-abouts in the park. The problem of obtaining a ball was solved by pinching missiles from the local coconut shy and wrapping them with insulating tape to make them the same size as cricket balls.

During the Double Summer Time of the Second World War Bomber would bowl from five to 10 every evening. Since his companions, having no pads or gloves, objected to his bowling fast, he slowed his pace, and dispensed with a run-up in order to maximise the number of deliveries.

At 13 Wells left school and was apprenticed to a printer, though all his spare time was still given to bowling. It was a lucky day when some American GIs who had been stationed in Gloucester presented their baseball before leaving for D-Day. Soon afterwards Bomber played his first properly organised game, for St James's Youth Club, and for the first time in his life bowled with a real cricket ball. He took nine wickets.

By the late 1940s Wells was turning out for the Gloucestershire Nondescripts, and in 1951 he was selected for the county's second XI. He did well, taking six wickets. Soon afterwards, he recalled, "I was out in the park in Gloucester, "It was a lovely evening, about half past nine or 10. We were eating fish and chips, and this huge chap came across, old Tom Goddard. 'Are you Bomber Wells?' Goddard demanded. 'Get down to Bristol tomorrow, you're playing against Sussex'."

Evidently Sir Derrick Bailey did not have much confidence in the newcomer, for Bomber came on as sixth change bowler. Almost immediately, however, he claimed his first victim, David Sheppard, the future bishop of Liverpool. At the end of the innings his figures were six for 47. "Well," he told his new team mates in the pavilion, "I can see if I'm going to play for this side, I'm going to have to do a lot of bowling. I shall have to cut my run down."

Two years National Service, in the Royal Ordnance Corps, followed in 1952 and 1953, but in 1954 Wells took 95 first-class wickets and won his county cap. He was even more successful the next two seasons, with 122 and 123 wickets respectively. Now a seasoned professional cricketer, he used to play his gramophone in the dressing room, until someone threw it out of the window. "I took the hint," he observed.

Many counselled against the move to Nottinghamshire, arguing that the wicket at Trent Bridge was too favourable to batsmen. But Bomber found he preferred it to the slower pitches at Bristol, and claimed 120 wickets in his first season at Nottingham. He also preferred the food at Trent Bridge, finding it a great advance on "the little salads we used to have every day at Bristol, one slice of cold meat so thin you could see through it." Eating, he confessed, was his second pastime.

Wells retired in 1965, having taken, as he was told, 999 wickets in 302 first-class matches. Offered a game against Gloucestershire to make up the thousand – "somebody down there will give you their wicket" – he demurred.

"Plenty of people have got a thousand wickets," he reflected, "I bet no one's got 999." Later, however, it was discovered he had only taken 998. They cost him 24.26 apiece. His career batting average was 7.47; he did, however, once hit a hundred in 35 minutes when playing for Stinchcombe.

Wells's autobiography, Well, Well, Wells (1981) became a prized item on the second-hand book market, while his zest for anecdote made him a popular speaker at charity dinners.

He did not look with favour on many of the developments in cricket since his day. In 1998 he suffered a stroke which left him dependent on a wheelchair, but failed to dampen his spirit. He died on June 19. His first wife predeceased him; he is survived by his second wife, Mary.

On his death PWT wrote about Bomber

It must be nearly 30 years since Bomber Wells began to talk me into writing his ‘autobiography’. The precise circumstances elude me. Bomber was a talker. I spent hours at his home in Ruddington going through the essays that he had written for The Cricketer magazine and then more hours trying to match his stories with actual events on the cricket field.

I can’t remember whether he ever was a fisherman, but some of his yarns belonged to the angling fraternity. Not that they were in any way boring, his soft Gloucester tones were heard at a thousand cricket lovers gatherings over the whole of the U.K. and his popularity was such that he would be invited to the same venues again and again.

Listening to a well-told yarn is entertaining, but putting those yarns down in cold print inside hard covers is a different matter. Brousing through the pages again after a lapse of more than quarter of a century, I can see the validity of John Arlott’s comment at the time, that I hadn’t really got to the bottom of Bomber. Twenty years later Stephen Chalke had a second go and made a better fist of it. But neither book covered Bomber’s 25 years in Nottinghamshire – it had been intended that my effort would be only volume one of two and the reason volume two never appeared was certainly not due to the lack of sales for the initial effort – one winter circuit of the cricket societies by Bomber cleared the shelves of volume one.

Bomber Wells was born in Gloucester in 1930, his father, perhaps aptly, worked at the Wagon Works – the firm’s ground was used for County matches. After playing for several local clubs and picking up a host wickets with his off breaks, he made his debut for Gloucestershire in 1951, taking the place of the injured master-spinner, Tom Goddard. The following summer saw him serving his country in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and in 1953 being stationed in Nottinghamshire at Chilwell Ordnance Depot, he played for the Army and the Combined Services, as well as sneaking off for the occasional Gloucestershire county game.

His first full summer with Gloucestershire came in 1954 and in that season, plus the two which followed he took 95, 122 and 123 wickets. They were to proved the most productive of his career. In 1959 he lost his place in the Gloucestershire side to David Allen – at that time the county regularly fielded three spinners together – Allen, Cook and Mortimore. In 1960 therefore Wells elected to move to Trent Bridge. In that first summer he took 120 wickets and bowled 1,354.3 overs.

Most readers will recall that he bowled with virtually no run-up and many batsmen complained he bowled before they were paying attention! During his first winter in Nottingham, he went with Jim Swanton’s side to West Indies, but he never looked likely to play Test cricket for England. His batting comprised a heave for six, which too often resulted in a miss and a bowled. Well built he was not the most athletic of fielders and rather too fond of chatting to spectators on the boundary.

In 1961 and 1963 he took in excess of 90 wickets, but in 1965 his wickets were costing over 30 runs each and he was left out of half Notts games. In 1966 he was appointed as mentor to the Notts Colts side which played in the Notts Amateur League. His task was to act as captain and help the youngsters develop their full potential; unfortunately Bomber couldn’t resist the temptation to bowl himself as soon as the youngsters found the going a bit tough.


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Subject: RE: BS: Cricket characters
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 06:37 PM

Jaysus, Dick, your bloody great huge posts are overkill. The great thing about describing real characters is that you can keep it witty, pithy and brief...


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Subject: RE: BS: Cricket characters
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 07:06 PM

Growing up in Australia in the 1970s, Doug Walters was a popular character; I think it was Ian Chappell (a more controversial character) who told how Doug would often be playing cards while waiting to bat and, when a wicket fell, would say something like - hold your hand, I'll be back in a minute.


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Subject: RE: BS: Cricket characters
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 05 Mar 21 - 07:15 PM

...and I seem to recall that David Gower (very elegant batsman), after being dismissed, went out and hired a plane which he flew quite low over the ground where they were playing.


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