Brymbo Legends Interviews
Started playing competitive cricket: Nine years old for Willetton in Western Australia.
Teams played for in Australia: Willetton, South Perth (with Alan Mullally), Nedlands (Dermot Reeve), Wanneroo (Mike Hussey), Bayswater Morley (Ryan Campbell and Ed Giddins), Fitzroy Doncaster, Melbourne University, Point Cook.
Teams played for in the UK: Guisborough (with Phil Simmons), Billingham Synthonia (Michael Bevan), Hawarden, Marchwiel, Llay (Will Bosisto), Brymbo and Australian Universities (with Bosisto, Nick Buchanan, Tim David, Andy Delmont, Nathan Ellis, Josh Mangan, Michael Philipson, Scott Walter, Grant Stewart, Steve Reid and Charlie Wakim).
Personal mottos: “Focus on the things you can control”, “Underpromise and overdeliver”, “Talk about the best people you’ve played with. Never talk about the opposition; they’re just numbers on a teamsheet”.
Best Captain: Mike Scott (Hawarden). Mike was a dead-set genius. His captaincy was the biggest factor in Hawarden winning a North Wales Premier League title (more than any player’s on-field contribution). The saddest day for the culture of (and chances of ongoing success for) Hawarden was when Mike took up golf instead.
Wicketkeeper: Greg King (Brymbo). One of the main reasons I came to Brymbo was to watch this jet wicketkeep every week. His ability to stand up to the stumps to the medium pacers has been an inspiration to me and has played a massive part in me winning two grand finals in recent years with Melbourne University and Point Cook. Standing up keeps a batsman back in his crease, reduces his options, and increases the chances of bowleds and LBWs. Every stumping I get now off a medium-pacer is marked by me with a quiet nod to Greg.
Seam bowler: Phil Simmons (Guisborough and the West Indies). He rarely bowled more than 10 overs for the West Indies, but in the North Yorkshire-South Durham League where games went for 55 overs, Simmo would send down 27 overs into the wind. His pace, off a shortish-run, never let up.
Swing Bowler: Scott Walter (Australian Universities and Queensland). The most lethal left-armer I have ever wicketkept to. His inswing to right-handers was late and quick. My throat grew tired successfully appealing for LBWs, and middle stumps were often sighted cartwheeling dangerously towards me. Leicestershire and Durham both offered him contracts after he demolished Loughborough and Durham University, but he loved Brisbane too much to move.
Quick Bowler: Steve Reid (Australian Universities and Victoria). I made the terrible mistake of keeping to Steve only 20 paces back from the stumps in the first over of our match at Loughborough in 2015. By the end of the over, I was 30 paces back, nursing a right hand that I daren’t look at until 6pm, and with a slips cordon that was very relieved he hadn’t got an edge in that first over. On seeing the damage to my right hand at the end of play, Sarah Taylor gave me a new pair of GM wicketkeeping gloves. Steve would go on to terrorise Alex Hales in a T20 a couple of seasons later.
Best bouncer: Nick Buchanan (Australian Universities and Queensland). Day 1, Morning 1, of our first match against Loughborough in 2012 and Nick immediately let the students know this wasn’t a friendly. His bouncers were scary even watching from backward point. He snarled his way to 5/51, we dismissed Loughborough for 243 and Nick didn’t even have to bat on Day 2 as we won by six wickets.
Spin Bowler: Michael Philipson (Australian Universities and Queensland). His off-spin not only kept things tight, but he was always looking to dismiss batsmen. The classiest batsman I have seen and an astonishing fielder in any position. Special mention to James Bett (Melbourne University and Australian Universities) whose left-arm spin is always a delicious mix of control and deception.
Best batsman (finding gaps): Mike Hussey (Wanneroo and Australia). When Huss started at Wanneroo as a 15-year-old opener, club chairman Ken Oates came over to me at training before Round 1 and said “Michael is going to play for Australia one day, so I want you take him under your wing, show him the ropes and make sure no one in the team takes this p*** out of him”. We opened the batting together in the 4th XI then went up together as an opening partnership into the 3rd XI. Huss had no power but could always pick a gap, so I became an expert at running singles for him. The following season, Huss was in the firsts and I was treading water.
Big Hitter: Ryan Campbell (Bayswater Morley and Australia). Ryno and I started the season together in the 2nds at Bayswater Morley. He was slight, had the gloves and looked very good technically with the bat. Very early in the season as he was walking out to bat, he said: “I’m sick of giving bowlers too much respect” and 150 runs of the quickest runs later he was on his way up to the 1sts, Western Australia and Australia. I dropped down to the 3rds and made a century against Gosnells, which English teammate Ed Giddins would have seen if he hadn’t disappeared off to the local swimming pool halfway through the day.
Mr Consistent: Jimmy Day (Australian Universities). Two games for Australian Universities, two centuries. We beat Loughborough University by 150 runs then Cambridge University at Fenner’s by 240 runs. All class.
Favourite batting season by a teammate: James Claybrook (Brymbo): His 2015 season was brilliant. It was a pleasure to watch from the other end and admire from the pavilion. I hope James has another season like that in the locker.
Best Catcher: Phil Simmons (Guisborough and the West Indies). When he wasn’t bowling at the other end, Simmo would place himself at second slip and catch everything. I would regularly see catches coming towards me at first slip, then the ball would disappear as Phil dived across, performed a roll and underarmed the ball to the square leg umpire in a split-second. I would still be standing there, hands ready, waiting for the impact of the ball.
Top Fielder: Michael Philipson (Australian Universities and Queensland). An incredible arm with early release, power and accuracy to either end. Brilliant catching in any position, whether reflex or quickly running into position. When sliding, the ball would seemingly be back in the keeper’s gloves or in the bowler’s hand before you had time to realise he’d even slid.
Biggest Joker: Dermot Reeve (Nedlands and England). Returning from injury and playing in the 2nds for Nedlands as a batsman, Kermit was a laugh-a-minute at training and on gameday. Special mention to Gordon Kerr (Llandudno and Australian Universities) whose humour on Night 1 of the Oxford University match in 2011 helped create the feel of what it is to be an Australian Universities player. The legacy continues.
Nicest bloke: Will Bosisto (Llay, Australian Universities and South Australia). Boz by an absolute mile. Everyone loves him.
Inspiration: Greg King (Brymbo). He is the wicketkeeper I am always aspiring to be.
Best Innings: The day after Hawarden were bowled out by Brymbo for 45 and sent to the bottom of the North Wales Premier League, Hawarden played Denbigh in the Welsh Cup round of 16. Denbigh smashed 266 in 45 overs and the mood at the break was the darkest I have ever seen. I consumed an ordinary tea and went on to make a chanceless 125, seeing Hawarden home with three balls to spare. We would go on to beat Northop Hall, but then lose to Ammanford down in South Wales.
Proudest Cricketing Achievement (1): Starting the Australian Universities cricket team in 2011. We have played at Oxford (The Parks), Loughborough (ECB National Cricket Centre), Durham (Racecourse Ground) and Cambridge (Fenner’s). It became the only time that these players from Premier Cricket clubs around Australia would ever meet. Through the friendships created, there is now a pre-season tournament between four Australian universities in Brisbane every year. And players moving interstate to further their chances of first-class careers now often go to the University club in that State. Most recently, Adelaide University happily welcomed Will Bosisto (UWA) and Ben Wakim (UNSW) to their club. Australian Universities’ appointment with Loughborough is on May 28 and 29 this year, but COVID-19 may well force its postponement.
Proudest Cricketing Achievement (2): Being part of the Player Group taskforce with Robbie Jones (Menai Bridge) and Mike Forgrave (Marchwiel) that abolished Timed Cricket from the North Wales League and introduced 50-over cricket.
Proudest Cricketing Achievement (3): Receiving a NatWest OSCA for Outstanding Services to Cricket (in 2008 at Lord’s) and being named Sport Wales Community Coach of the Year (in 2012 at the Millennium Stadium) for starting the only two female cricket teams in North Wales. Cheshire (next door with the same population) already had 14 female teams!
Stand Out Memories: Recent Premierships with Melbourne University and Point Cook, and Brymbo’s miraculous final-day escapes at Northop and Pontblyddyn were incredible, but the stand-out under the severest of pressure (late in 2014) was our run of three 15-nils in a row against St Asaph, Hawarden and Llandudno. On 16 August 2014, Mold beat us by 8 runs to send us bottom of the League. Confidence was low and we were everyone’s favourite to go down. We then reeled off 575 runs for the loss of only 13 wickets, while taking 30 wickets for 360 runs. In that perfect three-game run, Joss Roberts peeled off a century and an unbeaten half-century, James Claybrook took 13 wickets, and Steve Kelshaw and I rescued us from 52 for 5 against Llandudno to post 210 for 9. Those 45 points took us from near-certain relegation to seventh in the League. No other club has managed a run of 45 points over three matches before or since.
Any Regrets: Not winning the North Wales Premier League title in 2015. Only playing 115 games for Brymbo: I’d love to be there and have another season with Gareth Boys, Dan Parry, Connor Davies, James Claybrook and Joss Roberts, and a first season alongside Mohamed Jayman, Dave Blackwell and Jack Oldham.
Promising Youngster: Max Rouvray (Point Cook). He is 16, the cleanest striker of a cricket ball I’ve seen at that age, and already bowls as quick as Ben Roberts.
Three most important qualities that make a cricketer stand out:
Always putting the team first, staying cool in a crisis, and genuinely enjoying teammates’ individual successes.