John Penikett (1842-1868)
One of the host of Henfield-born and bred players to play regularly for both club and county in the mid-nineteenth century, Penikett is notable for scoring what was probably the first Henfield century. Along with many of the players of this period, his life is largely unknown, though we do know that he was a master hairdresser with premises in the High Street. There is no record of his death, but 20 years ago his great-grandson came across a tombstone in Alberta, Canada marked “John Penikett – farmer, died 1905”. Could this immigrant farmer have been the former Henfield cricketer? We have no way of knowing. Penikett is not a common name, so anything is possible. He scored 1,169 runs and took 256 wickets. CC
Richard Fillery (1858-1880)
Henfield born and bred, Richard Fillery was one of the outstanding players of the strong Henfield team in the middle part of the 19th century. A right-arm (roundarm) medium pacer, and a useful middle order batsman, he was a mainstay of a poor Sussex team of the period. Over 140 years later, he still holds, with Henry Charlwood, the record partnership for the 3rd wicket for Henfield. He also held the leading run scorer and leading wicket-taker records for the club for almost half a century after his death. CC/Cricinfo
Charles H. Smith (1861-1884)
One of several Henfield players to captain Sussex, Charles Smith was a right-handed batsman whose Henfield career was largely outside of the years he played for Sussex, where he was also captain. He was another local product, born in Albourne and passing away in Henfield. CC/Cricinfo
Henry Charlwood (1865-1873)
The only Henfield cricketer to have played Test cricket for England, a full biography can be found here
Charles L. A. Smith (1887-1908)
The son of CH Smith, and another who remained in Henfield throughout his life, Charles Smith also captained Sussex. He was a right handed batsman, and occasional medium-fast bowler. CH and CLA Smith were two of only five people born in the county to have captained Sussex. CC/Cricinfo
James Vinall (1921-1939)
A Henfield player in the 1920s and 30s, Vinall joined the RAF in the Second World War. After being shot down over Germany his tragic death is detailed in the book Tail-end Charlies. The first section is from one of his colleagues:
“‘Escorts sat on each side of me. One was a senior NCO, armed with a pistol, the other man had a rifle. We had been waiting about an hour when a dozen men came in and began talking among themselves. I realized they had come for me. My life was being threatened again. The senior NCO took off his cap and put it on my head, either to try and disguise me or to make it clear I was one of them. Then an array officer arrived and he confronted the crowd. He stood up in front of them and told them I was a prisoner of war and that I was protected by the Geneva Convention. Just then the train came in and I was hustled on board. My escort stood at the windows with their guns in their hands until we had left the platform behind and were on our way. The NCO gave me some schnapps and some bread. I asked him what had happened to my friends and he said; ‘Your comrades are safe.’ Eventually I arrived unharmed at a POW camp.’
“Later he would discover that the German NCO had lied, perhaps too ashamed to tell his prisoners the truth. The mob who had arrived at the station had come with blood on their hands and were thirsting for more. Tate was one of three who ran from Huchenteld when they realized they were about to be lynched. One of the others, Jimmy Vinall, the flight engineer, had been recaptured the next day in another village. He was held in the police station but then a mob of Hitler Youth came for him, dragged him outside and beat him up. Then a fifteen-year-old boy, half crazy with grief and anger, was given a gun. Just weeks ago he had dug through the rubble of Pforzheim and found his mother’s crushed body and those of five brothers and sisters. Egged on by the others, the distraught boy shot Vinall in the head.”
He scored 2,357 runs for Henfield. DS/”Tail End Charlies”
Vincent Musson (1921-1948)
An upright opening batsman in the style of WG Grace, Vincent Musson was a mainstay of the Henfield team between the wars. On the difficult pitches of the day, he nevertheless became one of the few Henfield batsmen of the era to score heavily, and was a sufficiently good fielder to take more catches than anyone else up to that time. CT
Nelson Thorns (1921-1957)
Perhaps the pick of the Thorns’ cricketing generations. Like most people of his era much of his cricket development was curtailed by the war but when cricket started again he was selected to play for Sussex Club & Ground as well as Henfield, this in the same era as the Landridge brothers, H.W.Parks etc.
He was a medium pace bowler rather than fast, and would bat in the middle order where his keen eyesight and reflexes allowed him to perhaps over attack the bowling rather more than playing the more correct defensive shot – he handed this form of batting down to the next two family generations!
He was vice-captain in 1947 and 1948 and captain in 1949 and played for the club through what many thought was the modern heyday of Henfield cricket. The story is told that when he appealed it could be heard in the High Street, perhaps a little extreme but many people will testify that if the ball was hit towards them in the air they would wait with trepidation for the dreaded bellow of ‘catch that ball, boy.’ In one second eleven game his own son was caught talking to a friend on the boundary and missed a catch. He was taken off from bowling and made to field at deep third man at both ends all afternoon, then batted at number eleven! But he was a fair captain and would always make up after the game with a chat while drinking a glass of his favourite Light Ale.
He will also be remembered for declaring when on 99 at Rottingdean, although to be fair nobody was too sure if this was a miscalculation or a cricketing decision. Henfield only drew the game, the following year he scored the one run needed for his hundred.
Nelson played from 1921-1957, and was captain in 1948 and 1949. He scored a total of 5,806 runs (4,182+1,624), took 534 wickets (358+181) and 131 catches (108+23) CT
Percy Groves (1927-1977)
Percy Groves played for the Club over a fifty year period and has a truly remarkable record. If it had not been for the period of World War Two when there were very few games, surely his total of wickets would have been unapproachable.
His performances can be seen by referring to the Club records, but it must be remarked that for seven successive seasons (1946-1952) he took over 100 wickets, the 170 taken in 1949 being the most ever taken in a season. In addition there were seven other years when he took 50 or more. In terms of Henfield or, most probably, any other club, this was extraordinary bowling. He scored over 8,000 runs, with four centuries, so by any standards you have a class all rounder.
Percy’s build belied his smooth, graceful run up to delivery, which was right arm medium, usually over the wicket. Movement off the pitch was not prodigeous, but just enough either way. It was in flight – from any crease position – the absolute classic variation of pace that deceived most batsmen. His slow ball was “on a piece of spring” – superb. For an insight into the skill of a bowler, ask his wicket keeper. Those that kept to Percy confirm he was a devil to keep to. As the keeper is several yards (sorry metres) behind the batsman, we have some idea of the problems he caused. By acute observation a batsman would be summed up, and frequently set up. Many fielders will testify to being placed in a precise position, given some signal that this was it, and it usually was, straight down the throat. As Percy was not too pleased with dropped catches, this experience could be a little daunting. He dropped few himself and was surprisingly agile and sharp at first slip.
Opening the batting Percy’s technique was orthodox and correct, with no trace of flamboyance. He worked the ball well off front or back foot, but his trademark – a sure sign of class – was the drive off the back foot through the on-side vee from straight to midwicket.
As 2nd XI captain in his latter years, Percy encouraged the next generation, all of whom one would imagine were aware that he really was something special.
Percy played from 1927 to 1977. He took 2,038 wickets (1,830+208), scored 10,927 runs (8,641+2,286) and took 327 catches (275+52). DS
Frank Mayston (1940-1964)
Considered by many to have done more than anybody to make the club what it is today. His playing career spanned over two decades and his direct involvement with the club lasted 55 years until he gave up the Presidency in 1995 and has continued to support the club from the boundary since then. In his time at the club he held nearly every position possible, including working on the ground as and when required.
As captain during the 50’s and early 60’s he led, with great awareness, perhaps the strongest Henfield teams in memory and this together with his knowledge of cricket helped make Henfield one of the outstanding and strongest club sides of the time. He would lead from the front, literally, as he used to open the batting and if required keep wicket. He was a very correct batsman who used to collect his runs rather than smash bowling around; never one to hog the averages he was always content to drop down the order to give somebody else a chance.
His love of Henfield cricket as well as the game itself was self-evident and even when well into his nineties liked nothing better than to reminisce about various past games and innings as well as the state of the game today. Frank played from 1940 -1964 and was captain between 1951 -1964. He scored 9,597 runs and had a total of 231 catches and 11 victims as wicket keeper. He was President of the club a record 14 years from 1981 – 1995.
Frank Mayston died in 2009. At his funeral, Club President Tony Adfield gave the following tribute:
“From the late 1940s until 1995, Frank Mayston was “Mr Henfield Cricket”. Up until that time, Frank was a Ditchling man and, according to many reports, he was showing great promise with Ditchling Cricket Club, in fact, I have been told that had it not been for World War 2, Frank could well have played for Sussex. He was that good!
“But it was not to be. At the outbreak of the War, Frank volunteered to join the Royal Engineers on the 4th September 1939. Later that year he was sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force and was stationed near Arras with a Field Engineer Bridging Unit.
“With the collapse of Belgium and France in May 1940, Frank was one of the many thousands of soldiers to be evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk. When talking about those days, Frank was unable to recall just how long he was on the beaches at Dunkirk. It must have been Nature’s own way of blotting out the memory of the dreadful trauma of continuous dive-bombing by the German “Stukas”. He could remember being pulled out of the water at Dunkirk but could not remember by what type of ship or vessel. He was eventually landed at Dover. From there he went to Aldershot, next Elgin, then Berwick and back to Eastbourne. Then on to Henfield, where Frank was with the first military unit to move into Martyn Lodge which had been requisitioned by the War Department.
“Through the next few years, with the very real threat of invasion by the Germans, especially in the South of England, Frank had the task of training small groups of saboteurs throughout East Sussex in the art of subversion, should the Germans occupy Sussex. He often referred to the underground bunkers at Tottington Manor, near Small Dole, which were part of a “hush-hush” operation, probably the seat of local government going underground. I can recall at the funeral of Ben Coleman, a past Chairman of the Henfield Parish Council, Frank, who was next to me in Church, proudly proclaimed, “He was one of my boys”.
“It was during the period when Frank first came to Henfield that he met Olive, affectionately known in the Cricket Club as ‘Auntie Olly’ and on the 8th April 1942 Olive and Frank were married. The marriage was blessed with the arrival of their son David.
“So it came to be that Frank had planted his roots in Henfield and had already taken an interest in the Henfield Cricket Club. Because of the War, there were no regular cricket fixtures on the Common from 1940 until 1945, but I feel sure that Frank had a hand in playing in some of the ad-hoc games that were played during the War.
“On demobilisation Frank joined the staff at Vinalls the Builders and it can be safely said that it was no coincidence that Frank’s association with Vinalls produced the excellent pavilion and facilities the Cricket Club enjoys today.
“Frank joined the post war cricket club and soon demonstrated his class as a fine opening batsman. Frank’s “late cut” at the pavilion end was poetry in motion. He would effortlessly lean into the shot and the ball would flash to the boundary. He was made Club Captain in 1951 and held that post until 1964. He was a modest captain, often placing himself at number nine or ten in the batting order and, because of the tremendous strength of the first eleven’s talent in those days, he would probably not “get a knock”. He also was a great tactician of the game with the ability to read a game, most of the time making the right decisions.
“Frank’s sporting interests were not only confined to cricket. At various times he held the offices of Secretary and Treasurer to the Henfield Football Club and was no mean footballer in his playing days. He was a Vice-President to both the West Sussex Football League and Henfield Football Club.
“Even after 1995, when he would sit in his car, watching cricket from the mound on the south side of the Henfield cricket ground, he would passionately follow matches and express himself quite forcefully to those within earshot on various facets of the game. Heaven help the fast seam bowler who never had a third man on the Common!
“In his playing career with Henfield Cricket Club, Frank scored 9,597 runs and took 231 catches but he was not just a player and a captain. At various times he occupied the offices of Secretary, Treasurer and Chairman, became a Life-Member and finally was Club President from 1981 until 1995. In addition, he was the prime architect in the development of today’s pavilion. Henfield Cricket Club owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Frank, a wonderful, wonderful servant to Henfield cricket and to cricket in general.
“On behalf of Henfield Cricket Club, thank you for your life of dedication and enthusiasm. There is so much to remind us of your service. You will never be forgotten.
“I am sure that you have already made your presence felt at the real Lord’s Cricket Ground.” CT
Hugh Rapley (1946-1957)
Hugh was one of the leading players in the strong Henfield eleven just after the Second World War. Although bowling left-arm leg-breaks, he often used to open the bowling, frequently causing havoc on the comparatively poor pitches of the day, and always economical. His partnership with Percy Groves was the stuff of nightmares for batsmen of the time (323 wickets between them one year), and Hugh twice took more than 100 wickets in a season, his 153 in 1949 remaining as the third highest season’s total on record. He batted down the order, but showed on occasion that he could bat.
Off the field he was known for his fondness of light ale, and a love of the card game halfpenny nap. CT
Tony Ralls (1946-1970)
An outstanding all rounder who played for Henfield for 24 years and an important part of the post-war teams; Tony opened the bowling preferring the ‘Henfield end’ and would bat number 4 to 6. He both batted and bowled with a very upright and correct action and his finishing high windmill-type bowling action and long last stride with its classic side-ways-on action would today be the yardstick for many coaches.
He was part of the Ralls trilogy with Dad umpiring, and sister Pam scoring, both giving many, many years to the club. In some people’s memory Tony will be remembered as the opening fast bowler who always wore a cap. It may seem funny in today’s game but the proof was in his wicket taking, which is comparable with anybody that has opened the bowling for the club.
Tony played from 1946 – 1970 he took 662 wickets (654+8), scored 7,846 runs (7,762+84) and took 168 catches (167+1). CT
Trevor Adcock (1949-1989)
Perhaps the most outstanding cricketer to have played for Henfield in living memory and acknowledged by most of his peers as the best club cricketer never to have played county cricket.
Trevor played for Steyning on Saturdays and Henfield on Sundays, this when Sunday cricket was the strongest of the two days. He was a hard-hitting left-handed number 3 batsman who could and did destroy most attacks. He was also a right hand opening fast bowler who bowled with a high smooth upright action that resulted in the ball coming of the pitch very quickly; he was also a more than useful leg-break bowler.
Trevor scored more than a hundred hundreds in club cricket scoring 13 of them for Henfield; he also took 5 wickets in an innings 49 times for the club, including taking all 10 against Cuckfield in 1960.
He was well known for always wearing his red Steyning Grammar School 1st XI cap; when this red cap emerged from the pavilion it never ceased to cause a lot of concern in the fielding side.
Trevor played from 1949 – 1967 (with one more appearance in 1989) he scored 8,119 runs, he took 701 wickets and took 92 catches. CT
Tony Robertson (1950-1964)
Tony ‘Nobby’ Roberson came up through the colts system and then played a very important part in the great Henfield teams of the late fifties and early sixties. He started his senior career with the second eleven in 1951 gaining a reputation as an outstanding wicketkeeper and good lower middle order batsman. He made his first eleven debut at the start of the 1953 season and after a few years of finding his feet he became, by 1956, the number one wicketkeeper at the club, a situation that carried on until 1963 when he moved to South Africa.
While his wicket keeping would always ensure his selection, especially as he was always prepared to stand-up to the fast bowlers whenever the need arose thus giving them that extra edge, he decided that given the batting strength that Henfield had at this time, batting in the lower middle order did not offer much opportunity. By working on his technique he was by 1961 opening the innings, which he did with great success until his departure.
‘Nobby’ was considered at the time to be one of the best wicketkeeper/batsman that the club had had – following in the footsteps of Denzil Barnes and Frank Mayston. He was awarded a special presentation by the club in 1959 for his all-round ability and scored his only hundred – 103 not out – against Balcombe in 1962; he was part of the Six-a-Side Horsham Tournament winning team of 1963 and still has the distinction of having the club record of 7 victims in an innings, 6 caught and 1 stumping achieved against Storrington in 1963. CT
Eric Wells (1953-1982)
Another outstanding all rounder who played for the club for 29 years. Eric’s importance to the team was that he was a left-handed batsman and bowler. His gave the team that extra dimension with his left arm around the wicket leg break bowling and caused problems to most opponents. Perhaps his one fault was that he tried to bowl too many different types of balls per over, instead of relying on a stock ball and a few variations. He was a hard hitting middle order bat that on his day was as destructive as anyone, although here again he probably tried to play too many shots too soon, too often.
He was well known for always having sweets in his pockets and he would eat them constantly during a game; did he know something about ball manipulating before the rest of the cricket world?
Eric played from 1953 – 1982 he took 1,029 wickets (954+75), scored 7,897 runs (7,202+695) and took 198 catches (187+11). CT
Conway Thorns (1954-2008)
One of a line – still continuing – of Thorns in Henfield, Conway was destined to play for Henfield CC. It can be safely said that his father was keen that he should do so, so he really had no choice.
From Poynings CC and the club’s 2nd eleven, Conway followed the normal progression into the first team. Both with ball and bat. Conway had a simple philosophy – attack. It says much for his talent that even at the higher level this policy did not need to be much modified. However the usual mayhem of the opposition being laid waste was somewhat curtailed.
Conway’s bowling style was classic: smooth run-up, high right arm action, braced left-leg and the arm coming across the body in full follow-through. It was meant to be uncompromisingly fast – and was! On one occasion a much-bruised opposition batsman not only proudly displayed his battle scars but also his shattered abdominal protector. Now if that is not fast, tell me what is? Unconventionally the ball was held across the seam, which, if it struck the pitch would cause it to lift sharply. Hence pace and lift took the majority of his wickets.
As stated previously, Conway’s batting was aggressive, which usually resulted either in domination of the opposition bowling or an early exit. As great drives from the high back-lift thundered into – usually over – the mid-on/mid-off arc, the cricket-wise observer could watch with amusement the safety conscious fielders gradually retreating.
In later years Conway made 2nd slip or gully his preferred fielding position, where he made catching look nonchalant. But he was a safe fielder and catcher of the ball anywhere, and possessed a first class throwing arm.
In what would certainly have been his prime years Conway’s employment took him abroad, where he played in Holland and Singapore, where he met a certain……no, I won’t spoil a good story – let him tell you himself. Again. His virtual absence from the club from the mid sixties to the mid eighties was a real misfortune for the club and this loss of runs and wickets means that his record is very much understated.
Conway has passed his experience and knowledge of the game by skippering the second eleven, where his stern cricketing upbringing caused many a chastisement of players, especially fielders. The “come on!” with agitated hand-clapping will always be – even by the recipient – fondly remembered. DS
Gerald Golds (1954-1986)
Gerald’s (Ged’s) introduction to Henfield cricket was in his teens as a wicket keeper. Phil White broke his front teeth, so, not surprisingly, he thought he would try something else – like bowling.
In the army for his National Service (if you don’t know what that was, ask grandad) he played for the camp team, which fostered his interest in the sport.
On returning to the Club, he soon became a first eleven regular, forming a great opening attack with David Pound. Built like a rugby prop, Ged could, and did, bowl for hours. He had good pace off a bustling run-up, which often took batsmen unfamiliar with his bowling by surprise. He bowled right arm over, and, on the Common, exclusively from the Pavilion end. The ball held with the seam just off upright, he got late away movement in the air from a smooth, conventional body action. Consequently keeper and slips were in a constant state of anticipation. For variation there would be an occasional slower delivery, or, with the seam held upright, a ball that held its own on the slope but did not deviate in the air – bowled just outside off-stump, left-handers would naturally find the ball going down the hill.
However there was no variation in intention, which was to “keep it tight” and Ged’s accuracy could fulfil this policy. All without a trace of show or flamboyance. The extravagance one sees in this era would be completely alien to Ged’s character – a pained expression from a near miss or lucky edge was all you would get.
Of course Ged had few opportunities as a batsman, but he had a good eye and could give the ball a fearsome belt. Much to his team mates’ delight he could execute a totally unique shot – which was termed the “anvil” – played off the back foot, with the bat coming down at an angle and powered by strong forearms, it went past an apprehensive mid-on like a rocket.
Memorable though this is, it is insignificant compared with his skill with the ball, and to that, his match winning 7 for 23 against Maresfield, with 4 wickets in one over, will always be a testament. The following week saw another 7 at Sunallon. In that year (1976) he took 93 wickets.
Nobody watching cricket on the Common during Ged’s heyday will ever forget the fair-haired, ruddy-faced cricketer, the quintessential English seamer, coming in off that characteristic run, shirt saturated with sweat and clinging to his back. They knew then that all was well with Henfield cricket. Gerald played from 1954 to 1986. He took 698 wickets (574+124), scored 1,430 runs (992+438) and took 86 catches (65+21). DS
Keith Waldron (1957-2002)
Hailing from Yorkshire Keith has to shoulder the brunt of southern ribbing from club members. This is handled with a skill comparable to that he showed behind the stumps. From the start he took a liking to wicket-keeping and progressed naturally from schools cricket, where he once had seven victims all stumped, to the first eleven. However at no time has been coached and his ability is natural, honed by experience. All the oft-repeated adages that keepers set the tone for the fielding side and should be unobtrusive so that you are hardly aware they are there is true of Keith. But of more importance and seldom stated is the confidence that such a good keeper can give to the bowler. These attributes are not shown on the scorecard.
Being of slim build Keith was quick on his feet, so despairing dives were seldom necessary (although he could dive when the occasion demanded), his technique was perfection and although tested by a succession of spinners – right and left arm – from Eric Wells to Tim Parsons, Keith coped with consummate ease. One senses that this was his greatest pleasure; up to the stumps to a good spinner. A leg-side stumping he remembers nostalgically is that of Jim Parks in a game against Old Sussex – the stumper stumped. And a triumph he does not remember, a catch at Keymer & Hassocks when just for a moment Newton’s Law of Gravity was disproved. Brilliant!
Keith is the only wicketkeeper to have kept to the first five of the club’s leading wicket-takers and therefore has been a major contributor to their success. Keepers always have problems with the outswinger to the right handed bat. If pitched on or outside off-stump no problem, but pitched on or outside leg-stump the batsman obscures the ball’s flight as it goes down the leg-side. A bowler of this type therefore gave Keith most of his keeping problems. Now which club bowler was like that one must ask!
Keith has opened the batting and had a good defensive technique, but playing in a period blessed with batsmen, he had few opportunities to have an innings except lower down the order and thus often had the tail-ender’s problem of giving it the whizz or blocking out time. Either way, he did it wholeheartedly. His greatest moment was a classic last wicket partnership with Eric Wells to defeat the MCC, which has club folklore status. Unlike most keepers Keith was quiet, but this does not mean he was mute and he was quick to defend the club’s position with a verbal quip. His rapport with bowlers was interesting and usually humorous. His repartee with Andrew Lyon was well worth the match fee.
Because of their prime position keepers can assess both batsmen and bowlers. This knowledge and experience Keith has passed on to the club’s young players, both as colts and whilst captaining the second eleven.
It is only natural that comparisons are drawn between the club’s players and those of the opposition of the same discipline. It is of course the case – regrettable – that sometimes the opposition player was superior to ours. But when Keith was playing, this was never the case with the keeper. DS
Ken Stevens (1958-1975)
If you are one of the generation who can recall Roy Orbison, then you can picture Ken – he was a dead spit, including shades. However there is no doubt who was the better bowler!
Ken bowled right-arm – invariably over the wicket – and would be classified as a spinner, but he had a long run for this type of bowler. He appeared not to be a great spinner of the ball, but got deviation from the off by purchase rather than a snap of the fingers. Operating from the Pavilion end of the Common gave him natural assistance from the slope, but he was still able to take wickets on non-sloping pitches.
Tall, with a high action which gave bounce and surprising “pace off the pitch” Impossible? Anyone who witnessed his 6 for 1 at Storrington will swear it is not. Fast through the air for a spinner, batsmen found it very difficult to use their feet to create scoring opportunities. Although line and length were never sacrificed to experimentation, Ken would on occasion alter his pace or even put in a leg break – definitely rolled – as variation. But who can doubt his “bowl it tight” philosophy: 783 wickets at 12.87 seem a good endorsement!
In the period when Ken was with the Club, cricket was much more of a social event, and being a good host to the opposition was a skill that Ken performed brilliantly. Ken was a keen golfer and this was made apparent when batting, for his lofted drives into the “vee” from minimal – well none, actually – foot movement would sometimes provide useful late order runs and much merriment. Facing bowlers of medium pace would however produce a change in technique – with a straight face Ken would say “I was just giving myself room to hit through the off-side”. With the limitation of overs, this is now, of course, exactly what batsmen do. Ken would have loved the irony.
Ken played from 1958 to 1975 and was captain in 1967 and 1968. He scored 1,972 runs (1,936+36), took 787 wickets (783+4) and took 65 catches. DS
David Pound (1960-1977)
It is not surprising that living in the School House on the Common and watching cricket from an early age, that David should end up so prominent a Club player. From the smiling scorer clutching his scorebook in the photo in the Pavilion, he became, with normal progression through the 2nd eleven to the firsts, a class opening bowler.
He bowled at good pace left arm, exclusively over the wicket, and, when on the Common, from the village end. Without question his main weapon was the left armer’s arm ball of yorker length. On a humid day this delivery would come spearing in from mid-off direction, but he varied his pace according to the conditions of the day. With no movement in the air, he would bowl quicker. To get his swing the whole classic side-on action came from a smooth, languid run up with a high upright arm action coming right across the body, braced right leg. Perfect. The ball was held in the conventional manner with the forefingers across a slightly angled seam. For variation the seam was held upright with forefingers either side. The result was a ball which moved down the Common’s slope or held its own. If this delivery actually hit on the seam it would often lift. As the previous balls were pitched up to encourage a drive and probably swinging in, this made run scoring difficult. This is confirmed by the Club records: the opposition batsmen scoring at only 2.50 runs per over against him. In the top ten Club bowlers, this is surpassed only by Trevor Adcock. Twenty five times he took 5 wickets or more and his best 7 for 14 put Goring back in the hutch for 35. In that year, 1975, he took 95 wickets.
It is surely not fanciful to think that David’s impressive record would have been even more so, had he not – whilst playing football – chipped a bone and dislocated his ankle. Although he persevered and resumed playing again, it is fair to say he lost some of his previous zip and was never the bowler he had been previous to his accident.
Like his bowling David’s batting was equally correct in that elegant way left handers seem to possess. It was good enough that for a period he successfully opened the innings, and, if he had not been satisfied just to bowl, he could have been a genuine all-rounder. But then of course he would have been denied the number eleven’s prod to save the game, which he mischievously enjoyed.
David was a safe pair of hands and preferred to field in the slips, but captains wanted him at long leg or third man where his strong, accurate, and powerful throw could be utilised.
David would have been successful in the league cricket the club now plays because batsmen, as he intended, would have been looking to drive, but with his fair, gentleman’s approach to the game, would he have enjoyed it?
David played from 1960 to 1977. He took 808 wickets (609+199), scored 2,578 runs (1,926+652) and took 117 catches (106+11). DS
David Silverson (1960-2013)
Between 1960 and 1976 David was perhaps one of the outstanding all round cricketers in Sussex. David with Ken Sadler formed an opening batting partnership that proved to be the must successful opening partnership ever to have played for Henfield, as is proved by the records with a total of over 37,000 runs between them of which David’s part was over 20,000.
He was a very stubborn right hand bat that even in later life when playing in his 60’s hates getting out. Although he could play most shots his late dab sending the ball wide of the slips to third man was his trade mark shot closely followed by the half forward defensive dead bat with soft hands. This is not to say that when the situation warranted it he was not able to change gear; he could and would attack the bowling with gusto, and played many winning innings in this vein. Apart from his batting he was often asked to open the bowling, although he always said that he preferred first or second change. His slow looping run-up to the wicket was followed by a high left arm action, a slightly arched back followed by a low nearly round arm slinging style that made the ball skid through off the pitch catching many a batsman unawares.
If his batting and bowling was not enough he liked to field ‘just around the corner’ where he held many fine catches and earned the accolade of ‘buckets’
David started playing in 1960 and still turns out every week for the Sunday 2nd XI.
He was captain in 1965,1966,1974,1975 and 1977 and to date has scored more than 22,000 runs, taken nearly 1,400 wickets and over 500 catches. Some record! CT
Ken Sadler (1969-1990)
With a background of league cricket in Worcestershire, Ken (Saddles) had acquired an uncompromising attitude to his cricket. This approach was naturally manifested in his batting: play the ball on its merits and take no risks. If you have a virtually perfect batting technique, bottomless patience and concentration – all of which Ken had – then a bowler has a major problem.
Ken had no trademark shot, but was proficient in all the strokes, off front or back foot, and to limit chance played all along the ground. A good bowler could restrict Ken’s scoring, so perhaps at times he was not quite aggressive enough, but he was the foundation of the innings, and, as he batted at number one, he took on the opposition’s quicks, usually their best bowlers.
Reference can be made to the Club’s records to see a breakdown of Ken’s performances, so it seems pointless to reiterate them here. Let the captain’s report for 1974 speak for them all – “On a pitch of doubtful bounce and fast, he scored 70 out of his team’s 123 for 9, 14 extras being the next highest score and that by a player 7. Top score in Bognor’s 71 for 9 was 14.” That is it in a nutshell – class batting!
Ken was very knowledgeable on the tactics of cricket and, as a captain, manoeuvred his field placings with great skill. Compatible with his serious approach, he was intolerant of poor bowling and even less so of poor fielding. A good fielder himself at gully and short midwicket, he was a great judge of the distance to be from the bat to any given batsman.
Ken would have revelled in the League Cricket now played, with its semi-professional approach, and would have reacted quickly to any on-pitch repartee or “spurring-on”. What is more it would have provoked a steely resolve, which would have made him even more difficult to get out, Bad move! Ken played from 1969 to 1990 and was captain in 1971 to 1973, 1979 to 1981 and 1988. He scored 16,745 runs (16,701+744) and took 197 catches. DS
Ron Pavey (1970-1996)
Ron Pavey came to Henfield from Brighton Belgrave after playing in many games between the two teams.
Ron Pavey played for the Club between 1970 and 1996, was Club and Saturday 1st X1 Captain between 1989 and 1992, Sunday 1st X1 captain in 1993 and President in his last year 1996.
He batted in the middle order and his aggressive approach was ideal in a run-chase. Using his feet to get to the pitch of the ball against spinners and medium pacers, he consistently drove the ball through or over the cover fielders. In their effort to counter this the bowlers would often try to compensate and bowl short resulting in a pull through midwicket or little dabs between slips and gully.
Statistically, he scored nearly 8,400 runs in 584 games at an average of 23.6 with a top score of 90, but it was his “can do” positive approach that was the value of his batting. What was probley his greatest knock was an innings of 40+ on a “bowler friendly” wicket that no batsman on either side could cope with, until Ron overcame it with his nimble footwork and outstanding judgement – an innings for the connoisseur – great stuff.
Although mainly a deep fielder with goods hands, he kept wicket on occasions and had 10 stumping’s and altogether 188 catches. On even rarer times he did bowl, taking 48 wickets with “lobbers” that was mainly due to batsman completely losing it with a frenzied charge down the pitch. Having succeeded when the principal bowlers had failed, Ron would give an impish grin which said “that was not that difficult, was it?”
Captains of club sides have to accommodate players of all ages and abilities and tactical decisions with the manpower provided are not easy, but Ron did the juggling act with tact and diplomacy. Young players in particular were always given a part of the game. In this context of apportioning fairness, selection was taken very seriously by Ron. He endeavoured to attend all selection meetings, travelling from Hove every Monday evening to ensure this, even though players were in short supply.
This was a prime example of this thorough commitment to the captaincy and the Club, which made his departure from the Club, so sad. CT/DS
Andrew Lyon (1971-1975)
Andrew Lyon came to the Club having previously played for Buckinghamshire in the Minor Counties. There must have been a logical reason why he bowled fast for his first few games, but, good though he was, his true talent was as an off spin bowler.
Tall, with a fast run up and whippy action, he varied his pace, but his stock technique, was to push the ball through sometimes at medium pace, so it was difficult for a batsman to use his feet to him. Because his arm action was high, the ball tended to lift, frequently hitting the batsman on the gloves. Mainly bowling from the Pavilion end on the Common, the ball turned sharply down the hill, so the keeper’s skill was severely tested. Sometimes the turn could be such that it would be judged too excessive and he would change to the Village end.
The 1972 annual report says he was “at times unplayable”. It’s true. On any pitch, in any condition, he could dismiss the best of batsmen. It was possible to set and maintain attacking fields with a forward short leg, backward short leg and leg slip – the batsmen were under constant pressure, rarely being given what is now known as a “cafeteria”.
The ball was gripped in the conventional manner for off breaks, with the fore and index fingers on the angled seam. With long fingers Andrew could give the ball a tremendous tweak. So much so that the Captain’s report for 1974 says “I look forward to hearing from my position at short leg the buzz of the spun ball next season”.
With a good eye Andrew was a carefree, aggressive bat, but really did give the impression that bowling was the only thing that was worth his attention. As you would expect from a bowler, he had a great throwing arm.
Andrew played just five seasons for the Club, yet took 449 wickets, he won the bowling cup four times. In three successive seasons (1972-1974) he took over 100 wickets and on 40 occasions took over 5 wickets in an innings. If he had played longer for the Club what might have been? A captain’s dream and a batsman’s nightmare.
Andy played from 1971 to 1975. He took 459 wickets (449+10), scored 1,352 runs (1,314+38) and took 35 catches. DS
Tim Parsons (1971-2016)
With any amount of luck and events proceeding normally Tim is likely to become the Club’s leading wicket taker of all time. This is a remarkable achievement in itself, but is enhanced by the fact that many of his wickets were taken in the harsh competitiveness of league cricket. You don’t take over a thousand wickets, take more than five in an innings 77 times, or have a 9 for 59, without talent. To do so in such a quiet, unassuming manner is as much to his credit as taking the wickets, Tim’s path in Henfield cricket has been from watching in his early teens to schoolboy player (the last Henfield player to wear the distinctive red cap of Steyning Grammar School) to second eleven and finally to the firsts.
Tim is a right arm, usually but not always over the wicket, slow, off spin bowler. As you would expect he bowls mainly from the Pavilion end on the Common. From a very short run – well steps actually – the delivery is based on a classic side-on bowling action, with braced left leg, high arm action and complete follow through. The ball is gripped in the conventional manner for the off break. He does not bowl the floater away from the right hander, but gets the same variation with a seaming arm ball. This is bowled a little faster than previous deliveries and, if the batsman is set up for the off break, can be deadly. He can turn the ball sharply, but does not use this repeatedly, but rather as a variation along with astute use of the crease and slower balls. To be parsimonious he can bowl flat with a bit more pace, or – one feels more to his enjoyment – toss it right up to tempt the heave-ho, quite content to trade a few boundaries for a wicket. Any part of this repertoire is used after a skilful assessment of the pitch, batsman, and match situation – in other words sharp reading of the game and clever bowling.
In his youth Tim had a powerful throw, reaching the keeper on the full from any boundary position on the Common, and has always had a reliable pair of hands.
Initially Tim was an all-rounder, but as his bowling became more proficient his batting opportunities became fewer. However he can still make useful runs in the lower order, mainly from lofted drives into the “vee”, but, if the situation demands it, he can (and has) bat stubbornly for a draw. This though is against his nature, for he has – and this was demonstrated during his period of captaincy – a very positive approach to a game of cricket.
Tim started playing in 1971 and is still going strong. He was captain in 1978, 1985-86, 1992 and 1996. To date he has scored more than 6,000 runs, taken nearly 1,800 wickets, and held nearly 250 catches. DS
Nicholas Blake (1981-2006)
Nicholas came to the club via Bradfield College and Lindfield CC Colts elevens. From his upright stance at the crease, one can see the coaching of those formative years.
He had very correct defensive strokes and confidence in the execution of the attacking strokes, especially the cover drive, pull through midwicket and that difficult shot – the sweep. Unhurried, he always seemed to have time to play the ball; was relaxed and unfazed by any batting situation and seldom played an ungainly or ugly shot. Of his eight centuries the best was a match-winning innings against a strong President’s Eleven, but – though numerically smaller in comparison – an innings on a green pitch against Goring with an attack easily the best in the league at that time was one of the highest technical merit.
By chance he happened to mention that at colts level he once kept wicket and, as the captain at that time was in extremis to fill this most specialist of positions he ended up the club’s wicketkeeper. For such a tall player he became very accomplished and his 112 stumpings is a club record. This is despite not being totally enthusiastic about being the glove-man and is a testament to what can be achieved with commitment.
This commitment to the club in other fields will no doubt be acknowledged by a better writer in the future. The term “cricketer” is very ambiguous and is not surely exclusively concerned with playing ability – although of course Nicholas had this in full measure. It is the way you play the game. Nicholas was the very epitome of Kipling’s oft-repeated words about treating triumph and disaster the same. He greeted triumph with modesty, and disaster – the wayward legside delivery, the forlorn, despairing dive, four byes – with a wry grin. Priceless! DS
David Jemmett (1983-2013)
David Jemmett has been one of Henfield cricket club’s most destructive batsmen of the past 30 years since he joined the club from Rottingdean in 1983 and I have been lucky on many occasions to watch him from the other end of the pitch while he destroyed opposition bowlers.
David would be the first to admit that his batting technique was not learned from the pages of Sir Donald Bradman’s ‘The Art of Cricket’ but he was blessed with exceptional hand to eye co-ordination which enabled him to hit the ball with great power while his feet were not necessarily in the right position!! That is not to say, however, that he was a crude slogger of the ball. His first movement was usually a big stride of the left leg down the pitch followed by a solid defensive shot or a clean swing of the bat assisted by ‘fast hands’. His most prolific scoring areas were between mid-wicket and mid-on or through the cover region and back over the bowler’s head and he could score very rapidly. To judge by some of the remarks made by opposition bowlers he was an exasperating batsman to bowl at because it always seemed as though they were in with a good chance of getting him out, but on many occasions he prevailed. I recall one match against Steyning in the league, when we had heard on the grapevine that they had a rapid Australian bowler who was getting lots of wickets and we were filled with a certain amount of trepidation: much to his teammates’ delight David had one of his golden afternoons and the quicker and more desperately the Australian hurled the ball down in David’s direction the further it was hit back over his head. Needless to say the language was full of the usual fast bowlers’ expletives.
The statistics of David’s batting career at Henfield are very impressive. His total number of runs scored is 11,037 with nine hundreds in the 1st X1 and one in the 2nd X1 and he is one of the very few Henfield cricketers to score three centuries in a season, which is an exceptional achievement and he is number five in the list of Henfield run scorers. He has scored a thousand runs a season on four occasions and did it for two years running, 1987 and 1988. Apart from his wonderful record as a batsman, I think that one of David’s great attributes is that he played his cricket with a great deal of pleasure and always took bad decisions or disappointment with great equanimity and was never guilty of even the slightest show of dissent on or off the field of play. Because he took such a big stride forward with his left leg lbws would always be a highly unlikely mode of dismissal but on those occasions when the umpire’s finger was raised skyward David took it all with good humour and often a wry laugh.
Keeping wicket with David at first slip was always an enjoyable and amusing way to pass an afternoon even if the side was under the cosh and one of the more amusing sights would be David retrieving the ball from the third man area after a snick had bisected the slips and attempting to return it to the wicket-keeper with a mighty under-arm throw the height of which invariably exceeded its distance gained. Perhaps it was a cunning plan to ensure he always got the cushy first slip posting! NB
Kevin Thorns (1986-Present)
Statistically the greatest of the the Thorns dynasty, Kevin has been a mainstay of the 1st XI middle order throughout the nineties and noughties. A hard hitting right-hand batsman, he is certain to join that elite group of players with more than 10,000 1st XI runs. Never a technical purist Kevin has the ability to take apart any attack thanks to a remarkable eye and a rare ability to time the ball.
Kevin is another product of the Henfield youth set-up, playing for the club from an early age following father Conway’s return to the village in the 1980s. Since that time, few league sides have been without him. Batting between numbers four and six, Kevin’s talent has been to take the attack to the opposition, and when in form is one of those players to whom it is simply impossible to bowl. His trademark shot is the pick up over midwicket, the ball frequently disappearing into the trees or the road, to the admiration of other players simply incapable of playing such a shot, and the rage of opponents who find that irrespective of where they bowl he can still find a way to deposit them over the line. Nevertheless, he is perfectly capable of more subtlety, the ability to “work” the field once well set being key to his run scoring.
It is perhaps true that with more technical refinement he could be and could have been an even greater player, but that it is to perhaps miss the point. Statistics do not always tell the whole story, and those lucky enough to play in the same team as him will testify that there are few more thrilling sights than a Thorns counter-attack. Indeed, when in this mood he is delightful to bat with, his partner merely having to take a single and watch the fireworks.
Perhaps one of the best examples of Kevin’s power and timing – especially when well set – was the occasion when he began the final over of the innings against Worthing Chippendale unbeaten on 110. With the aid of a couple of no balls, Kevin faced the final ball of the innings unbeaten on 144, having hit 5 sixes and a four. For those watching, there was the prospect of seeing the incredibly rare event of more than 36 runs off a single over (although 36 is not exactly common); but sadly it was not to be, though he can hardly be blamed for aiming to reach his 150! Nevertheless, that over is most definitely a club record, and one exceptionally unlikely to beaten. To find a player with the ability to wreck bowling figures to that extent is rare indeed, and it is to be hoped that we have many more seasons of it to come.
At various times, Kevin has also supplemented his batting with occasional stints behind the stumps, notably for the 1st XI during a period where the club lacked a natural ‘keeper. He let no-one down despite always being reluctant to do it, and certainly the alacrity with which he gave up his duties upon the arrival of a new wicketkeeper to the club suggested he’d been even less keen than he’d made clear. His father’s genes appear to have largely gone missing with regard to Kevin’s bowling, although he rarely misses the opportunity to gleefully remind people that he once won the 2nd XI Bowling Cup.
Kevin has captained both 1st and 2nd XIs, and off the field has been a focus of many of the club’s social events, both in terms of attending and more notably organising. The annual summer party is his personal creation, and has quickly become one of the most popular events the club holds. The arrival of a family curtailed his cricketing to some extent and he decided to captain the 2nd XI on Saturdays when still more than good enough to play league 1st XI cricket. CC
Martin Payne (1986-2012)
In 1986 Martin Payne made the short hop from Hurstpierpoint cricket club to Henfield, and in the ensuing 22 years has proved to be one of the most successful batsmen in Henfield’s long history. Bizarrely he spent his first summer with the club languishing in the second eleven At the present time he stands at third place behind those stalwarts, David Silverson and Ken Sadler, and should within the next season or so overtake Ken, the difference being a mere 505 runs.
The statistics of Martin’s career are very impressive, as follows: 619 innings with a remarkable 152 not outs, 16,196 runs at an average of 34.68, 10 centuries with a highest score of 119 not out and 91 fifties. In addition to these excellent figure he also has 233 catches to his name, which excluding wicket keepers, makes him number three in the all -time list.
Bare statistics do not, however, give the full picture of what a powerful and effective batsman Martin is, usually from number four to six in the batting order Few cricketers playing for Henfield or opposing teams have hit the ball as hard as he does. Three shots in particular stand out. His pull shot, usually hit high over mid-wicket’s head, is a massive blow and when Martin is batting at the village end of the square can put passing vehicles on the road in mortal danger if full connection is made. His lofted drive over long-off or long-on, often from a few paces down the pitch, goes a mighty long way and during one ferocious innings at Fletching he peppered the roof of a nearby barn with alarming regularity. The farmer must have been appalled at the damage to his barn’s roof tiles! Martin has in his repertoire one unusual but highly effective shot, also struck with massive power. To a short delivery outside the off stump he will strike the ball not with a vertical bat, nor with a horizontal bat, but with the bat pointing down at about 45 degrees. Fielders in the cover region are very relieved when he finds the gap in the field. His prowess with the golf club means that he can generate a huge amount of bat speed which means a cleanly hit shot goes an awfully long way.
In addition to his powerful hitting Martin has also taken a large number of catches, usually in the slip cordon, but also at long off or on, where he is a very reliable catcher of the lofted drive coming down from a great height. One aspect of Martin’s long cricketing career at Henfield which not many people know about was his ability as a medium fast bowler. On occasions he could generate considerable pace, and being a tall man with a high action, he could achieve awkward bounce on suitable pitches. A Lindfield batsman in pre-helmet days took a fearsome blow on the nose which required hospital treatment so he was quick enough to trouble good players. Alas, his back meant his bowling career was short lived but he would have been a great asset to the club as an opening or first change bowler.
Martin has been a great servant to the club for over twenty years and Hurstpierpoint’s loss in 1986 has indubitably been Henfield’s undoubted gain. NB
Robert Slaughter (1989-Present)
Robert’s cricketing statistics would make much greater reading was it not for the fact that he started his 1st XI playing career at such a young age. Pictures in the pavilion will bear testament to the fact that he played a large amount of 1st XI cricket when very young and then as he was starting to approach his prime Henfield lost his services for a number of years whilst he was living in Southampton. He still has a great many years of top quality cricket ahead of him and there are no doubts that he will find his rightful place right at the very top end of the club’s statistical history.
Having developed through Henfield’s colts set up Robert had been earmarked as a promising leg spinner during his time in the Sussex set up. The road to leg spinning glory never really took off and it has been as a fast bowling, hard hitting batting all rounder that Robert has really made his mark.
During the early years of his career he was often required to share the league bowling duties with only Tim and Silvo as support. A tough challenge for anyone but for a fast bowler at the start of his career a particularly tough ask. He never shirked away from this and put his all into every game even when getting little joy. His bowling will always be remembered in the history of the club for the day he took all 10 wickets at Dorking. His 10-41 is the 3rd best bowling analysis in the history of Henfield Cricket Club.
The weight of expectation of Robert’s bowling certainly inhibited his batting talents during the early years of his career. Since his return from Southampton he has shown his true batting abilities and has cemented himself as a key player in the 1st XI batting line up. A most destructive player who has the ability to take any bowling attack apart if he is in the mood. He holds the record for the highest league score for the club with 133.
As a fielder Robert was often under employed in key areas whilst he was taking well-earned breaks at long leg between overs. In recent times he has grown into a fantastic 1st slip fielder and rarely does he miss anything in the field.
His on field talents have spoken for themselves and as his career progresses there is no doubt that he will continue to add to his wonderful club record.
Off the pitch though his reputation as a valued member of Henfield Cricket Club is perhaps its greatest. His off field partnership with Chris Garcia in the mid-noughties providing some of the best social stories and events in club history. This is perhaps not the place to provide detail but I’m sure that Robert will share more in exchange for a pint of his favoured “Turbo Shandy” and anyone who saw the growling Tiger thong will never be able to forget that spectacle.
Always a headline writers favourite and at the end of his career the chance to reflect how many teams have fallen foul of the following headline types would be an interesting exercise: “…. Taken to the Slaughter”, “….Slaughtered”, ” Slaughter on Henfield Common” etc. KT
Mark Smith (1992-2011)
Mark was one of those people who epitomise a cricket club. Always there to share a drink with friends and opponents alike, quick to offer help and assistance, quick to volunteer for anything that needed doing. He joined the club in the early 1990s, having not played since school. >From that time on, he could be found playing for Henfield most Saturdays and Sundays, bringing his keen wit and sense of fun to proceedings every game. But it should never be thought that Mark didn’t take the game seriously, he hated losing – especially if the team had underperformed.
Despite actually being left-handed, Mark was a right arm seam bowler, and right-handed batsman. His bowling was by far the strongest suit in his game, and many a team-mate would insist to new members and opponents alike that Mark could do more with a cricket ball than anyone else they knew. Certainly it’s true that even on the flattest of surfaces he’d make the ball apparently pop off a length and have puzzled batsmen seeking out the apparent imperfection on the pitch. Naturally, this also caused much debate about how deliberate this all was, but Mark would always just look at his interrogator with that slightly lopsided smile of his on his face, shake his head and never answer.
Much (but not all) of his league cricket was played in the 2nd XI, with his Sunday cricket in the 1st XI. For that reason, his wickets are shared between both elevens, much to his frustration as he took well over 900 wickets in his Henfield career, a figure that puts him right up there with the most successful bowlers in club history. Indeed, his ambition was to reach 1,000 wickets for the club, and preferably over 500 for the 2nd XI as he’d already managed for the 1sts. There is little doubt he would have achieved that, and would probably have gone on to take several hundred more.
Mark enjoyed his batting in true tailender fashion, and the glint in his eye after he’d scored runs made it very clear that any batsmen who had failed were going to hear about his knock in great detail in the bar. When he put his mind to it, he could bat too, and was well capable of more fifties than he actually scored.
Mark also brought his son Anthony into the club, and as Ant grew up a healthy rivalry between the two of them took hold. Ironically, it was more in the batting than the bowling that this applied, but Mark was a proud man when Ant appeared on the club’s leading player lists for the first time.
Mark was only 49 years old when he was taken from us. In one of his last games he equalled his best ever haul of wickets in a game, taking seven at Rottingdean. He was a wonderful club member, a dear friend and a fine cricketer. His legacy remains in the hearts of those who knew him, and in his family who are integral to the club in many different ways. A player is more than his statistical record, and Mark was one of the very best. Henfield’s victory in the 2011 White Hart Twenty/20 Cup was felt by many players to be in tribute to this lovely man. CC
Chris Crampton (2000-2013)
The combination of opening batsman and wicketkeeper is one which is often considered to have a detrimental impact on a players ability to perform both tasks to the best of their ability. Chris however has managed to combine both roles very successfully and since his arrival at the club has proved himself to have been a vital cog in the modern Henfield CC machine.
His insatiable appetite for the game means that he always plays Saturday and Sundays and any mid week games which are available. It is a very rare weekend that you can’t find Chris performing for Henfield CC on a cricket pitch somewhere in Sussex. As a left-handed opening batsman Chris has blunted the attacks of many teams. His approach has always been one of attack, but a measured attack. He is capable of shots all round the wicket but not for him the mindless slogging of a middle order player (or at least that’s what he says). He will put the bad ball away very hard and tries to ensure that the scoring rate stays high. Never is he happy to let the bowlers feel that they are ever on top of him.
His batting has improved greatly in recent years and the coaching sessions he invested in at Hurstpierpoint College and the many hours of throw downs he’s received in the nets have contributed to his very rapid rise up the all time run scorers league table. He stands 4th with his batting average and has joined the elite band of players to score ten thousand or more runs.
He has been part of a number of successful opening partnerships over the years, none perhaps as rewarding though as his relatively short but very productive one with Chris Garcia. None of us who were there will forget the run chase at Crawley Eagles on a minefield of a wicket – Chris’s batting highlight of his Henfield career to date. His attacking approach has paid great dividends over the years but has also contributed to the one area of criticisms with Chris’s batting. A player of this calibre should have turned a higher percentage of his fifties into hundreds.
Chris’s wicketkeeping can be somewhat of an enigma. One wonders sometimes how it can be that someone who has such great skill at standing up, can make the task of standing back appear so arduous at times. Chris has seen off a number of contenders to this role over the years and remains the number one glove man in the league side. Not only does he do a fine job week in week out it also allows him to regularly adopt his signature tea pot stance when yet another throw from a fielder arrives at high speed around his ankles or flies over his head.
The remaining discipline of bowling is the one where one senses Chris would dearly love to contribute more. Whether this is on the basis that he’d like to get his own back after all those years of keeping or just because he’d love to bowl properly, it seems this ambition is destined to remained unfulfilled. Known to occasionally “chuck some filth” down when required in friendly games, the aim of one day having a bowl in a league game may be a cricketing target too far.
Chris’s on-field performances certainly stand him out as one of the club’s greatest players, however it could be argued that Chris’s greatest legacy will be found off the field of play. He has developed the club website over the years and has taken on the roles of (un)official club historian and statistician. Over many hours and with some help from others Chris has been piecing together the most comprehensive set of data about the club and its history. One day it may well be that this research will be rewarded and the club will gain its rightful place in the evolution of England’s cricketing story. As well as looking after the web site, Chris plays a very active part in all social events and his skill in the club quizzes (not only by knowing far too many answers but also for setting devilish questions, always with a twist) is well known. He has hosted all our overseas players at some time or other and we can be grateful to him for that as they have all brought something different and interesting to the club.
Overall the contribution Chris has made both on and off the field would clearly mark him out as one of this club’s true legends. I suspect he’s not at all close to calling time on his playing days and will have his eyes firmly set on climbing a great number of further notches up the all time performers list before he does so. KT
Chris Garcia (2003-2006)
Although his statistical record does not bear comparison to most of those players on these lists in terms of volume of runs or wickets, Chris Garcia is important in the club’s history as the first overseas player ever engaged by Henfield. He was a left-arm swing and seam bowler from Melbourne, who bowled at a brisk pace, and could bring the ball back in to the right hander late on. In his first season with the club in 2003, he took 93 1st XI wickets, and was instrumental in the club winning the Invitation League 3rd Division that year.
He made an immediate impression on arrival when he skittled a strong Three Bridges side, swinging the ball prodigiously into the right-handers, and terrifying the slips who saw the ball initially heading straight for them, before curving in to take the stumps. He returned to the club for the following two seasons, with more success. Having arrived as very much a tail ender, he worked hard on his batting, finishing his Henfield career by opening the innings in the league side. Indeed his finest moment with the bat came with his partnership with Chris Crampton against Crawley Eagles, one of the most memorable run chases of recent years. His all round contribution to the club in the three years he spent here was outstanding, whether in terms of his on field ability, his keenness to assist the younger players, or what became a quite remarkable social life. It is fair to say Gus was a lot of fun to be around, although those he stayed with still talk of threatening murder as he would attempt to play Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water on his guitar when drunk and fail at EXACTLY the same place every single time. CC
Profiles written by Conway Thorns, David Silverson, Nick Blake, Kevin Thorns & Chris Crampton.