As anyone who’s ever reflected upon my sporting achievements will testify, they are few and far between. No glittering half centuries, few catches, no bowling at all. In consequence my respect for those who have made substantial achievements is unbounded. The club – and I’m talking about Bells Yew Green Cricket Club of course – has been built, since 1947 upon the achievements of individuals. There have been glittering innings, spells of bowling and stunning catches seen over the years at this quirky little dome of a cricket pitch, forged through the physical efforts and financial commitments of many men.
I could pay tribute to many here. That’s the thing with achievement. It never stops. But I want to pay tribute to one individual. This is the story of a bowler. A bowler who was not six foot three tall, with terrifying pace and steepling bounce. A bowler who had none of those physical advantages. Short, and not blessed with a skidding action particularly. For many these would be insuperable disadvantages.
And let’s be honest, he has often been the subject of gentle teasing, making fun of his diminutive height. He has always been the first to laugh, often the first to joke.
But for him, these were less disadvantages than challenges. For many seasons now, he has demonstrated the value of sheer persistence coupled with a nagging line on off stump. A simple distillation of the “you miss, I hit” approach. He has played in every XI the club has put out, representing BYG at the highest levels.
And last week he became only the second player in the club’s history to take 1000 wickets. A massive achievement. Not achieved overnight, not without setbacks. But achieved by sheer dogged persistence, a nagging bowling line and an absolute and overwhelming commitment to the sport he loves. As for his ‘slower ball’, perhaps we can gloss over that.
Jockey, I raise a glass to you! Respect, my friend.