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Child Okeford Cricket Club -part 2

Tom Hicks: “Bowlers Name?” Continued from last month.

The full chapter about Child Okeford can be downloaded here and the full book  Bowlers Name by Tom Hicks  is available to purchase from Amazon.

The seam attack was completed by Dave ‘Sid’ Hall, who had two false knees and played in an England rugby shirt. Lovely bloke that he was, I couldn’t understand a word he said, which was awkward as he moved in next door to us and loved a chat.

The undoubted hero in my eyes was Anthony ‘Lewie’ Lewis, whose moustache-mullet-and-medallion combo marked him out as an Achilles. On weekdays, a run-of-the mill builder; on Sundays, and on those glorious Tuesday nights when a cup fixture meant the bonus of watching a 16 eight-ball-over smash (we were doing T20 in Dorset long before it became a thing), Lewie transformed into a Goliath of the game.

The other real stalwart was Mike ‘Spuddy’ Murphy, a long-distance lorry driver who was the whole package: he kept wicket, bowled medium pace ‘as tight as a gnat’s arse’ and had an effective, if idiosyncratic, technique when batting. Left-handed, his front foot would typically splay in the opposite direction to the ball whilst his keen eye and beefy forearms would launch it over point, often into the school field next door or the stinging nettles. The irony was that Spuddy was the past master when it came to finding lost balls in the stingers and would happily retrieve them and hand them back to the hapless bowler ready for more destruction. Like half the team, he also turned out for the football team in the winter, and his missus made the best teacakes and jam in the business. 

Among the other key characters were Phil ‘Chevy’ Cheverton – a crabby, selfish batsman and local Bobby; Alec Angell – chain-smoking darting legend; Joe Cooper, who drove a car with a Status Quo banner across the windscreen; and Alistair Underwood who was known to don the whites when a late drop-out occurred. I awaited the day that a drop-out would see dad turn to me and say, ‘Do you fancy batting at 11 and fielding at fine leg?’

Eventually, my time came, and I was allowed to take my place in the pantheon. I’m sure I did OK, and I remember my younger brother even taking four-fer when he couldn’t have been more than 12. Looking out for our names in the Western Gazette (you were mentioned if you got 20 or more, which shows the quality of the pitches) was my first sense of ‘fame’.

Sadly, like a great many small village clubs, Child Okeford CC has gone the way of the church, the post office and the pubs. Occasionally, when I revisit Dorset for old boys’ weeks, I will take a trip down memory lane. Everything is smaller, and Spuddy’s sixes don’t seem so massive after all; the scorebox has gone, as has the playground, and there is no sign of a ‘square’ to speak of, not even a miserly rope to cordon off a space which would offer the hope of Jonah coming back on his roller, or the sound of leather on old Duncan Fearnley.”

 David Pope 861411 [email protected]