150 not out and still with plenty of gas in the tank would be the best way to present Brighton College Cricket today. We as a school have had an enviable record in cricket since the early 1980’s and it is great to see that this still the case in 2005.
The College 1st XI celebrated the day with a comprehensive win against Tonbridge and the OBA with a first round Cricketer Cup win against Ampleforth the weekend before.
I always look forward to spending time at the college because it has been part and parcel of my life since I can remember and I was filled with nostalgia even before I arrived for the celebration dinner. Meeting up with old friends and remembering old times and old battles won is what we cricketers love more than anything.
I arrived late as usual but had the excuse of playing cricket at the other end of the county for my club and a winning match to boot. I was soon brought up to par with the general banter of the evening as I was sitting next to Neil Lenham (D. 79-84). Neil is the most successful cricketer the college has produced (in excess of 20 first class centuries to his name including one against Pakistan) and it was fantastic that he honoured us with his presence, although the knowledge of free alcohol all night might have tipped the balance. Neil is currently the market manager at Sussex CCC and a mighty fine job he is doing too. All the 20/20 competitions being completely sold out. It will be interesting to see if the current crop of ex-college county players namely Prior, Hopkinson and Young can match or better Neil’s achievements. The College and the OBA I know would send their congratulations to Matt Prior and Basid Khan for making their International One-Day Debuts. No longer is it enough to have county players among our ex-pupils because now we have 3 current internationals. The standards are now set very high and I feel privileged to have played with and against both of them at the college. The first time I saw Basid play he wandered out to bat and John Spencer had told me he was a rare talent. He took his guard left-handed and after blocking the first couple of balls he belted the next two for glorious boundaries. What a player I thought. Patrick Spencer was batting at the other end and was literally wetting himself. Pat what’s the problem I asked him at the end of the over. His reply between sniggers was that Basid normally batted right-handed! My first experience of Matt also included Pat as he was bowling to me in the college v. OBA annual match. Having not played Pat particularly well on this occasion Matt chipped in with a few choice comments as he was keeping. Well not to be out done by a young up start I stopped Pat as he was about to bowl and gave Matt a piece of mind. Perfect I now felt in control again, the only problem was that next ball I didn’t read Pat’s googley and was clean bowled. How embarrassing but to Matt’s credit he didn’t say anything as I walked off.
The Dinner moved on through the coarses and was a fantastic success with all of us exchanging stories and memories just like I have done with Matt and Basid. Most of the talk was about cricket but on a night like this where you meet up with people that you have not seen for many years it is a chance to catch up on what life has brought us all. From my era I keep in regular contact with people I still play cricket with, namely, Mike Edmonds, Sam Chettleburg, Julian Withers, Chris Gates and Chris Long, but it was great to see Daren Panto, Mark Simmonds, Andrew Pett, Russell Piper and Mike Brown.
Daren Panto was another great player that the college produced. Left arm spinner and devastating middle order batsman. If I see any other left arm spinners these days and are asked what they bowl, I simply say Left arm Darens but not as good. Daren also gave me my best memory of the college Langdale Final against Lancing in 1984. We needed 3 to win off the last ball and My Son, as he was known to one and all hit the ball cleanly to the square leg boundary. Coach (JS) jumped for joy and all his money came out of his pockets. He was a picture not knowing what to do, eventually leaving the cash to run on the field and congratulate My Son.
It was also great to meet up with Andrew Pett and his fabulous wife. He is a schoolmaster still but I had not seen him for many years. He has managed to keep his youth intact and still favours a full head of hair that alas is not the case for all and sundry. I still remember his immortal words on returning from one away trip when asked for directions, “Left and left again for my scrambled eggs”.
Mike Brown (Biffer Braun from Troon) was as always in mighty fine spirits and has promised to play in the newly formed OB Vets Rugby for the following season. Mike was a Jack of all trades bowls bats and wicket keeps. I remember many a six being bashed at the home ground from his willow in cricket week. He is always fantastic company and it was great to catch up with him again.
One of the Simmonds brothers was present, namely Mark and his lovely wife Mel, and Michael was absent preparing his body for the rigours of the London to Brighton bike race. Mark too has promised to play for the OB Vets. Hopefully he may persuade Michael to play as well.
Russell Piper brought his entourage of OB’s from St. James cricket club namely Derek Pickering, Roger Green and Nick Betteridge. Russell is still in the top five highest run scores in the Cricketer Cup with his 185 not out against Halibury Hermits. More sandwiches were heard time and again as Russell deposited yet another ball into Walpole Terrace.
Once the dinner was cleared away we were entertained by three very different but equally amusing speeches. First up was John Spencer who presented college cricket and how it had developed in his time. He thanked various people including Horse for his organisation of the evening and presented him with an extra desert with added red wine sauce. JS then introduced the main speaker for the evening John Troutbec Barclay. From the stories JS told about his early days at Sussex and Cambridge with Trout I am sure that professional cricket was more fun and less serious than it is today, although when on the field the competition of the game is and was the same.
Trout spoke like the modern day Magnus Pike using exaggerated hand movements to stress and emphasise points he had to make. He was highly amusing and kept us enthralled with his stories of his times with JS and also with Neil.
JS then introduced Dr. Seldon who gave us a genuine off the cuff speech about how he had and was still enjoying the college and all that it represented. He has certainly expressed himself and influenced the college tremendously in his headship here and we wish him well in his new endeavours as Master of Wellington College.
After the speeches the celebration spilled over into the master’s common room and together with the hospitality of JS, Julian Withers, Philip Robinson and David Lowe we regaled our stories until the early hours.
Thanks to all who made the night special and remember always play straight in life and in cricket.
Those attending included:
Sam Murphy (S. 1998-2002)
Anthony Merrifield (H. 1953-58)
Richard Ibbett (D/B. 1967-72)
Mr & Mrs Joey Appleton (D. 1979-84)
Michael Thomson & guest (S. 1962-67)
Gordon Smith & guest (B. 1946-52) & Master i/c 1960-63
Warwick & Merie Sabey (B. 1959-65)
Norman Wilson (C. 1934-39)
Roger Green (S. 1959-64)
Russell Piper (B. 1972-77)
Nick Betteridge (D. 1956-61)
Derek Pickering (L. 1953-58)
John Crosthwaite (H. 1946-49)
Andrew Nichol (H. 1993-98)
Alastair Nichol (H. 1996-2001)
Bill Blackshaw – HM 1971-87
David Gold (S. 1986-91) – OBA President
Julian & Alison Withers (H. 1976-81)
Mike & Sally Edmunds (C/H. 1980-85)
Peter & Mary Rumney (H. 1937-39)
Mike & Sarah Browne (L. 1976-81)
Andrew & Mary Pett (H. 1966-71)
Chris Long (D. 1984-89)
Tim Loadsman (L. 1951-57) – OBA Secretary
Anthony Seldon - Headmaster