After 37 years of playing for the club, picking an all-time eleven is no easy task. I have not selected any overseas players as typically they don’t stay long at a club and you could fill the eleven with overseas stars. My team includes two wicket keepers. Everybody can bat and has at least a Sussex League 50 to their name. Everybody bowls as well! So, to captain this lot and keep everyone happy will be a challenge.
1. Ken Chapman. Keeper of the LA team that won the Sussex League Cup. A very steady opening bat who will get the side off to a solid start. A wonderful athlete. Never injured. Ken has a great cricket brain and is quick to pick up on a batsman’s weaknesses and set a trap. For that reason he is both wicketkeeper and vice captain. I did once keep wicket to Ken’s bowling.
2. Geoff Cole. A serious sportsman in his younger days, playing squash, cricket and football. A very decent quick bowler who pulled off some amazing catches in the field. That’s before you consider his 100+ centuries, all scored with just one shot! A fantastic example to the younger players. You can’t score runs when you are sat in the pavilion. His shot selection is second to none.
3. Chris Kirkham. The best home grown Littlehampton player over the last 25 years. He has every shot in the book. His aggressive batting will capitalise on the sound start the openers will give us. Unlikely to bowl, but he will be patrolling the covers.
4. Rick Heberlein. The most technically correct player in my time at the club. Never quite scored the runs that he was capable of, but his innocuous looking bowling was highly accurate. Twice he took nine wickets in an innings and it is a great regret of mine that in both instances I took the other wicket.
5. Mike Askew. I had the great pleasure of managing the colts team that Mike was in. Mike has a good cricket brain and loves the game. His commitment to the club shines through. Whether it is playing, coaching or running the website. A serious batsman who I would personally put further up the order in the current first team.
6. Danny Horne. Not known as the wild thing for nothing. Bowled quick, even if sometimes a little wayward, and hit the ball hard. He unsettles opposition batting, coming on as a change bowler (no point giving him the new ball, leave that to people who can swing it). His destructive batting will give us some serious momentum in the later overs.
7. Matt Parnell. This player had everything. An opening bowler who could move it around at good pace. Keith Cannon from East Grinstead upset him and wished he hadn’t. After that if Matt was flagging or we needed a wicket, I would tell him that one of the batsmen was Cannon’s brother.
Matt could bat and hit the ball cleanly and hard. I had the great pleasure of being at the other end when he got his maiden Sussex League hundred after all the other batsmen including his sister had given it away.
Also a wonderful fielder. I always used to put Matt where I thought the catches would go. Normally off my bowling that was at mid off. He would take ten catches a season for me. I only ever saw him drop one.
8. Guy Souch plays as our spinner. Out of the same colts team that Rick managed with Baby Kirkham, Matt Parnell, Luke Vinter, Dazzler, Bruce Brogan, Dan Peach and Chris Hebs. Up until the age of 16, Souchy was still enrolled as a dwarf at school. His huge feet, which were half of his body mass were a clue that he was going to grow. When he did, he grew really quickly and lost the beautiful loop that he had to get the ball above the batsman’s eyeline. Nothing used to phase him. I would throw him the ball to bowl at the death. Typically he would pick up four wickets for around 40.
Another top fielder who will lend further athleticism to the side. However, my abiding memory of Guy is having to drive his car home after he got injured at Preston Nomads. It was like driving a skip. I had to have another shower as soon as I got home.
9. Rob Strickland came to us from Preston Nomads. Prior to going to University Rob was a much feared fast bowler. He made himself in to a very useful batsman who would bat in the top five for most teams.
10. Tim Peters. Clarkey made it a condition to pick yourself. Can bat and bowl a bit. Should have been a better fielder.
11. Graham Gain. If I was going to war I would want Gainy by my side. Aggressive opening bowler with a pure bowling action. Another fantastic fielder. Graham left everything on the pitch and you could always rely on him to tell you what was what. Always very loyal and always put the team and winning first.
Graham played at the highest level of any non overseas player at LA, having played many games for Warwickshire second team. We looked it up in Wisden at my house one night and found that Rick and Gainy are actually on the same page in Wisden (Rick made one Sussex twos appearance).The stories are legion. If anyone wants to know about what happened at East Grinstead with Howard ask Rivo. It’s a great story and demonstrates all of the above qualities.
12. As I say it has been very difficult to pick this team and many players came in for consideration. Special mention goes to Luke Vinter and Benn Challen who stuck with the club and tried to get us out of Sussex League Div 3 when they were clearly Premier League players. They got their reward at the Sussex League dinner with the Batting and Bowling awards and a full canteen of Sussex CC cutlery which despite going out clubbing only found in their jacket pockets the next morning.
Rivo misses out on fitness grounds. Mainly his injury after bowling 4 balls against East Grinstead which due to the thinness of our bowling meant that I had to bowl 26.2 overs in to the wind to Steve Pollard.
Apologies to Hugh Milner (an Ashes winning skipper), Chris Heberlein, Jimmy Askew, Chris Hanks, Tom Lee, Bill and Malcolm Lock and Daren Matura. Disco is twelfth man and will come in to the team as I strain a fetlock walking back from making the toss, having yet to pass the team sheet over. Disco was a graduate of the Haringey Cricket school managed by Reg Scarlett a future head coach of the West Indies. So, he grew up playing with many first class players including Keith Piper, Mark Alleyne and Carlos Remy. He hit the ball with tremendous power. You could cut down his bat and make three nice ones out of it. One of the nicest guys you will ever meet. For many seasons he drove down from Enfield to play for us every week. Watch out for the cockspur after the game!!!